Elk Grove residents express concerns, question California Northstate University's hospital project manager

By DeAna Melilli | Special to Elk Grove News | 

Ed. note - On Tuesday, February 11, a Pizzeria Town Hall meeting was held at Fat Mike's Pizza in Elk Grove regarding California Northstate University's proposed hospital. Ms Melilli's story expands the topics covered in EGN's story posted on Wednesday, February 12. | 

California Northgate University Hospital (CNU) Project Manager Paolo Diaz laid out plans for the proposed project and solicited community feedback. The proposed three-phase, 12-story hospital, medical college, helipad, and dormitory project would be located adjacent to Elk Grove Boulevard and West Taron Drive would replace various existing businesses and create new impacts on surrounding residences. Construction on the projects is scheduled to start by 2022.

Residents raised questions of concerns about lost jobs, small businesses, traffic, levee, and bird strikes. The project and its pending Environmental Impact Report (EIR) have not yet been approved by the City of Elk Grove nor has the needed funding of $900 million of tax-exempt bonds been approved from the California Public Financing Authority (CPFA). The CNU school is proposed as a for-profit institution but the hospital is planned as a non-profit serving low income, medical and homeless patients.

At the Tuesday meeting, Elk Grove residents expressed their concerns of the effect on small businesses and jobs lost at various businesses that are currently thriving in the Stonelake Landing Shopping Center. It was stated that businesses are doing so well that owners want to expand and ask for more square footage for their small businesses, which would be denied by the CNU proposal. A resident asked about impacts on one of the existing small businesses without receiving an answer. Mr. Jan Smutney-Jones chimed in mentioning Dreaming Dog Brewery and other businesses are still thriving despite the hospital plans.

Additional participant comments included the following:
  • Regarding I-5 and Elk Grove Boulevard response about transponders near the on and off-ramp. Diaz indicated he met with Caltrans about having a medical emergency entrance and exit and this is under review by Caltrans. A traffic study is underway for the intersection of Harbor Pointe, Elk Grove Blvd, and the on and off-ramps of I-5 from Elk Grove Boulevard. Caltrans expects thousands of additional project vehicles at this intersection. One resident indicated this will affect current Elk Grove commuters.
  • Regarding bird strikes, a question was made regarding being adjacent to a National Wildlife Refuge and within a major flyway. Diaz only responded that the hospital building plans were changed to put slanted shields to prevent bird strikes, but if this doesn’t work they can use hawk sounds or other methods to keep birds away from the hospital. This is despite the fact the hospital is planned across from the Stonelake National Wildlife Preserve, a major flyway.
  • One resident asked about trees for the project since there are a lot of trees there now. Diaz indicated that this is a hospital complex there aren’t plan for many trees, but there is a plan for enhancing the bike trail on West Taron Drive. The Project Manager stated that hospital is far enough away from the Stonelake levee trail system, so it won’t get impacted.
  • Another resident stated that residents could get signatures to put the project on a ballot for a City vote, if it were approved. It was stated that In other cities residents voted out projects that weren’t well conceived by a ballot measure.
  • Another resident indicated the TEFRA, Tax Equity and Fiscal Act, for tax-exempt bonds, the City of Elk Grove approved for CNU to pursue with the CPFA has yet to get approved. A public hearing for the $900 million has not yet happened for the CNU request. You can request to get placed on the notification list to respond to CNU’s request for bond funding by calling: 
California Public Finance Authority
2999 Oak Road, Suite 710
Walnut Creek, Calif. 94597
Direct: 925-478-4912

There are three additional Pizzeria town hall meetings:

February 18,  6 p.m. Steve’s Pizza, West Stockton Boulevard 

March 2, 6 p.m. Round Table Pizza on Bruceville Road

Councilmember Darren Suen will hold the third meeting in District 1 but details on that event have not been announced. 

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