Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cottage Hospital EIR

I'm not sure whether I agree with all the comments below from "city watcher" but thought it would be a good post:

How about having another post, for instance, on how the Planning Commission is going to push through the EIR on the Cottage Hospital - St. Francis property.

There were 6 weeks to review the draft EIR last year. Now the final one, responding to comments and issues, was issued during Fiesta, 8/3, with but two weeks before the PC hearing on the 17th.

"Issued" is a sort of a joke since there are few copies and it is buried on the PC web site.

First glance reports indicate that there is NO consideration being given to the neighborhood requested adaptive reuse of the existing building. This, despite architects and builders saying such reuse is indeed feasible.

What's the rush on this? Are they trying to push it through while many folks are on vacation? Why not delay the PC hearing until after Labor Day?

Why won't city administrator J. Armstrong, dev. director P. Casey, and Mayor Marty Blum plus the council members willing to give the public a chance to read this EIR ... and comment? It certainly makes one very curious....


Blogger Bill Carson said...

Why does this surpise anyone? The Cottage Hospital board members control this city. They could propose a nuclear power plant at Stearn's Wharf and the City Council would approve it. And the project would get a Negative Declaration to boot.

8/07/2006 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shocking, shocking! They're probably taking advantage of the fact that there's little coverage in the N-P of what's going on in the city. (And what there is is a (bad) joke: see today's reference in a story about the NPO hearing tonight at the city council by Vladimir Kogan to the "Agricultural Board of Review".)

But as for the St. Francis EIR: I think it IS shocking that the watchdogs of the city, the Planning Commission, should be rushing this through with but two weeks, well, less than that since Blogabarbara's is the first public notice I've seen of the availability of the EIR. (Way to go, Blogabarbara!)

Other cities across the country have re-used hospital buildings; why not here - and why not have a thorough study of that issue? Wasn't that supposed part of the EIR - I find it hard to believe it is not part of the study.

I've wondered what the tie-in to MarBorg is on the proposed and wonder if that is covered. Anyone know?

Yeah, Cottage makes everyone quiver as it gobbles up everything -- all for those proposed 125 housing units, of which 34 will be market rate units, with who knows how many to come in the future in the upper section of the property.

8/08/2006 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to bring up an EIR... you know, the EIR process is already underway for new offshore oil drilling in State waters in Santa Barbara County.

Yes, new offshore oil drilling just off our Coast. From the last remaining Platform, here, Holly just off Isla Vista.

There is upward of 100 million barrels there, in the South Ellwood Field south of IV. Drilling from Holly over the years has exacerbated oil seepage from the ocean floor, and causes a continuous, slow motion oil-spill that soils our beaches. Venoco, owner and operator of Holly, likes to point out that seepage has existed for 100's of years there, but they omit the fact that the seepage got much worse after oil production started in the 1960's.

The scoping meeting for the EIR was July 24... just about no-one publicized it, not the Independent, not the News-Press.

Well, let's hope we do better on commenting on the EIR.

8/08/2006 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim Strongarm wants this done - it's done!

8/08/2006 8:16 AM  
Anonymous salsipuedes said...

Cottage plans to knock down a perfectly good institutional building that could be, what, senior housing, perhaps? And build 34 market rate Luxury Condos while chanting the mantra "workforce housing" and another 81 for their nurses...while Cottage's own UCLA health consultant admitted in public "Cottage has a serious problem on their hands" in regard to the health effects of the project.How's that for good business--get rid of the competition, house the dependent workforce in what used to be called a "company town, and sicken the surrounding community to keep the customers pouring in. Oh, and make sure you hire the hapless administrator of the former competition, the "failed" St. Francis to be your Vice-President of Real Estate Development. And guarantee no messy historic issues by hiring the consultant (to write the Hisotic Structures Report) who's married to a top doc at, guess where, Cottage. Get the City Council on board by reminding them it's Marborg that gets to recycle the entire hospital. Conflicts? Nah, this is called good business in America's Riviera.

8/08/2006 9:26 AM  
Anonymous John McKinney said...

On behalf of our Bungalow Haven Neighborhood Association I sent pleas to the Mayor, City Councilmembers, Planning Commissioners and Community Development head Paul Casey.

Mr. Casey responded by insisting that after three years of study, the plan could only be released on Fiesta Thursday and the only date it could be heard was two weeks later--a time when everyone is out of town--indeed whole countries go on vacation during this period.

The Mayor responded that she consulted with Jim Armstrong and Paul Casey and that the date just couldn't be changed because, among other reasons, the applicant did not want to change the date.

Read on to find out just how seriously the city takes the concerns of its citizens. And remember it at election time when they come to your door claiming to stand up for neighborhoods.

July 24, 2006

Paul Casey
Community Development Director
City of Santa Barbara

Dear Mr. Casey,

As chair of the Bungalow Neighborhood Association’s EIR Response Team, and on behalf of that association, we urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to re-schedule the Final EIR hearing before the Planning Commission on what your staff terms the Cottage Workforce Housing Project.

The scheduled release of this massive document on August 3 during Santa Barbara’s Fiesta week and scheduled hearing just two weeks later betrays either an ignorance of the calendar or a callous indifference to neighborhood respondents and the democratic process—or both. We neighbors and all fair-minded Santa Barbarans are incensed that your staff would schedule the release of this document during Fiesta week--what is a de facto civic holiday—and then schedule a hearing on it during the last two weeks of August, a time when most families are on vacation. No municipality conducts its most important business during the last two weeks of August—unless its business the city doesn’t want its citizens to participate in.

All the more distressing is that your staff, after promising to work closer with the citizenry and with neighborhood associations, is repeating the same behavior it displayed exactly a year ago today when it attempted to release the Draft EIR during the dog days of summer and hold a hearing before neighbors could return from vacation and have time to formulate the best possible response. A year ago, neighbors had to press City Planning Commissioners and ask City Council members to intervene and ask your department to do the right thing: roll back the hearing and give neighbors 30 days to respond to a massive document. Thankfully, after a flurry of letters and calls, your staff did do the right thing and reschedule the hearing to a later date. As you might recall from a year ago, there was widespread consensus, among both those who support and oppose the project, that democracy was better served by allowing adequate study of the document and scheduling the hearing on it at a time when most Santa Barbarans are back in town.

We insist in the name of fairness:

1) The Final EIR be released no earlier than the first week in September.
2) Citizens be granted a minimum of 30 days to review the document and prepare a response before the scheduled hearing on the final EIR. As you know, thorough analysis of the document require consultation with experts in several disciplines in locations across the country; 45 days is really more of a realistic minimum review period for a document that took a year to prepare.
3) A sufficient number of hard copies are prepared (unlike last year) so that the many respondents and groups of respondents can review the document.
4) That the Final EIR be released electronically in the form of a PDF simultaneously with its availability in hard copy. We do not want to be forced by your department to wait for weeks, as was the case for the draft EIR last year, to have access to the document as a PDF.
5) The final EIR have the correct release date on the title page and not be back-dated as was the draft EIR to suggest citizens had more time to respond to the document than they actually did.

Thank you very much for your timely consideration of our requests.


John McKinney, Chair
Final EIR Response Team
Bungalow Haven Neighborhood Association

8/08/2006 9:54 AM  
Anonymous city watcher said...

So..... half a win, undoubtedly thanks to here!

The Cottage demolition of St. Francis hearing reamins on the 17th, but public comment has been extended until Sept. 24 (or so.)

Somewhat confusing: there'll be the PC hearing in 9 days where there can be public comment on the intention to build the 115 condos, 30% market rate, on 5.94 acres where now stands the hospital building.

So, will there be another hearing after the public comment - or is the comment just whistles in the wind? I'd like to think that what the people have to say has/should have some significance to the Cottage bulldozers, but I've always been an optimist.

CheriRae of Bungalow Haven spoke at the city council's public comment was tossed the scrap, informed of the change. Even more important, I see that the Cottage EIR has moved to a link on the main Santa Barbara web site:

Good going, Blogabarbara, and thanks. (Kudos, too, to SB public access!) As CheriRae perhaps overstated with the "demise of the daily", as she said, Blogabarbara becomes even more important! Keep the council and government feet to the fire, keep them honest and remembering that they are public servants, not public gods and goddesses....

Why not postpone the hearing until the close of public comment?

8/08/2006 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't think you're out of the woods yet on this one. The City has to prove it can be trusted, watch what they do, not what they say.

On the face of it, all is being done to push this through in spite of the concerns of the citizens of Santa Barbara.

This council acts as if they are some kind of gift from the gods, and we are just annoyances.

8/08/2006 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without this venue, do you think they would have listened?

8/08/2006 7:03 PM  
Anonymous salsipuedes said...

So the neighborhood gets to beg for the right to participate in a hearing/planning process that's completely slanted against them from the word go? And "Cottage" (maybe it should be re-named "Condo") finally agreed to allow the public to participate? Whoa, who elected the powers-that-be at Cottage to run this city?

8/08/2006 8:26 PM  
Blogger tech98 said...

This is not surprising to anyone familiar with Cottage's and CHW's sleazy doings that led to the closure of St Francis --

The 'exclusive' negotiations that ensured that a boutique luxury hospital couldn't purchase the facility, as was expected by many medical industry sources (Bakersfield supports such a hospital, so don't you think SB's wealthy population could make such a facility viable if not lucrative?);
The crappy way St Francis employees were treated;
The pathetic rate of hiring of laid-off St Francis employees by Cottage -- if Cottage's hiring situation is supposedly so dire that they need to build their own condos, why did they hire (between all 3 of their facilities) only about 70 of 330 hospital staff looking for work who were already living here?;
The nothing-to-see-here instant transition of St Francis' CEO to Cottage to oversee the demoliton and redevelopment of the hospital he ran into the ground...I'm *sure* this blatant conflict of interest had no influence on the negotiations which resulted in the elimination of Cottage's only competitor for 40 miles.

All this while the council washed their hands and wailed that there was 'nothing they could do' to prevent St Francis closing. Too bad we didn't have a mayor with guts like Morgan Hill -- when CHW shuttered their hospital to make a killing on the real estate, he refused to rezone the property for anything but hospital use, so it has sat there mostly empty for half a dozen years, burning a hole in the pocket of the CHW hospital destroyers who screwed the town over.

Cottage own the media and the local government in this town and accordingly act like bullies, and I wish them every delay and obstruction in the world on this project.

8/08/2006 11:35 PM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...

The Planning Commission meeting for 17th August is now cancelled, and the Cottage Hospital stuff is now re-scheduled to 14th September. You can look up the Cancellation Notice at the Plan Commission web site of agenda materials, just posted within the last half-hour.

Their meeting for 24th August is still on, with the Veronica Meadows housing proposal still on that agenda. See you there! (And no, try as you like to bait me, I still will not be debating that proposed project outside of a City government meeting.)

8/09/2006 11:56 AM  

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