Environmental meeting for controversial proposed Elk Grove hospital draws dozens of questions, concerns

Elk Grove's planning manager Antonio Abalog and environmental consultant Patrick Angell attempt to answer dozens of questions at the environmental scoping meeting. | 
A so-called scoping meeting covering the environmental impact report (EIR) for a proposed hospital was held tonight in Elk Grove.

That facility, a 400-bed $750 million trauma level II hospital proposed by the for-profit California Northstate University will be located in Elk Grove's master-planned Stonelakes neighborhood. Since its introduction last December, the project has become a source of contention for many Elk Grove residents.

The purpose of Monday's meeting was for the city of Elk Grove and an environmental consultant to explain the process for the EIR for the CNU hospital. That report is expected to be completed, certified in about one year and the Elk Grove City Council is anticipated to approve CNU's project. 

Additionally Elk Grove city planning manager Antonio Abalog and Patrick Angel, with Ascent Environmental, who was hired by the city for the report, attempted to answer questions from the audience.

After Abalog and Angell's opening statements, the audience at the well-attended meeting were invited to ask questions. Both representatives told the audience the EIR would not address many of their concerns such as decreased property values from the construction of the hospital and the completion of the EIR does not mean the project will be approved.

For the next 90 minute, close to 50 questions submitted. The issues included inquiries on traffic, noise, the length of the process, the effects the hospital would have on the Stonelake neighborhood, and several others that Abalog and Angell could not answer.

The first question came from Stonelake resident Jan Smutley-Jones who immediately seized on Abalog's comment that that CNU submitted an incomplete application.   

"When you say it is incomplete, how is it incomplete" and "why are we doing an EIR that is not complete," he asked.

Abalog acknowledged that even though the school did not complete the application, it was deemed sufficient to start the report. 

"We have determined we have adequate information to proceed," Abalog said.

Elk Grove resident Randy Bekker commented that the project already seems to have the full support of the city. He also asked if CNU was getting preferential treatment. 

"It seems this specific project already has the blessing of the city, and also is being fast-tracked by the city," Bekker said. "Is this project as it stands today, similar to other projects, regardless of the size...is this project any different from other projects in the past?"

Attempting to answer Bekker was Abalog who dodged the question and did not say whether or not the project was getting preferential treatment. He did say it was one of the larger EIRs undertaken by the city and "is treated as a project on its own." 

The controversial project has the support of Elk Grove Mayor Stev Ly, Council Member Darren Suen and has former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis performing as a community public relations and goodwill representative on behalf of CNU. Davis attended the meeting but did not speak or submit a question for the representatives.

Another question the representatives did not answer was about changing the designation of the flood plain area where the proposed hospital lies. Elk Grove resident Lynn Wheat noted there was a discussion of changing the flood area in the city's 2020 budget - a financial document - suggesting taxpayers may pay for the change in the designation for the benefit of CNU. 

"Being in the budget makes it sound like we as taxpayers are going to be paying for that process through the agencies that do that," Wheat stated. 

Abalog said he could not answer and would have to confer with the city's public works department to determine who is liable for that cost. 

With regards to materials used in the hospital should it be built, Elk Grove resident Amrit Sandhu said a 12-story structure in a residential could have negative microclimate health effects if it is not carefully designed. Sandhu referenced the reflective glass at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas that acts as a giant reflector, nick-named the "death ray," that increases nearby ground temperatures.   

"That is something we can look into," Angell said in response.

Another comment from Elk Grove resident David Melilli who warned the audience even if there are adverse environmental effects revealed in the EIR, the city council can override them at will. That process, which the Elk Grove City Council has generously used to overrule adverse effects on items like traffic congestion on several projects, is known as overriding considerations.  

"There is action the council and planning commission can make" Melilli stated. "Even though there is an identified mitigated need, that should be addressed; there is action the council can take...they can overrule that impact."

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2019. All right reserved.















   









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3 comments

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Before the first gurney rolls down the hallway and the first bed pan is cleaned, I wonder...

How many city "incentive" tax dollars will have been spent to support this project; how much behind-the-scene plotting the construction lobby will have done in coordinating a seek and destroy (the opposition) mission; what source will the $750 million dollar seed money come from; how long will it take N.E.S.T. to flutter away due to attrition and "combat fatigue"; and how much money Gary Davis will have made off this project!

To the current N.E.S.T. birds I say, don't look up, because that big bird circling above you is not Mama bird bringing you a worm!

Unknown said...

To me it seems as though the city could make every negative things in the report eligible for overriding concerns. It makes the entire process nothing more than a charade. Shame on the City of Elk Grove!

Unknown said...

You know who wasn't at the scoping meeting? District 1 Councilmember Darren Suen. I've noticed that the only time he shows up is when there is something in it for HIM.

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