California Northstate University appears to be giving up on Elk Grove hospital, in talks with Rancho Cordova

One of CNU's mailers sent early this year claimed the Elk Grove hospital would be built by 2022. |  


According to a statement issued this afternoon by the City of Elk Grove, California Northstate University (CNU) appears to be backing away from its plans for a hospital in the city's Stonelake neighborhood.

The statement from Elk Grove's public information officer said CNU officials have entered into discussions with the City of Rancho Cordova to locate their proposed hospital there. 

The statement said in part, "This announcement may well conclude the review process for the CNU Medical Center Project originally proposed for Elk Grove in December 2018. This project was reviewed by the Elk Grove Planning Commission on February 18, 2021, who recommended its denial. At CNU’s request, this project has not been presented to the Elk Grove City Council for a final determination."

The apparent abandonment of the project in Elk Grove ends a contentious issue since the project was unveiled.  At the time, the project was hailed by the Elk Grove City Council as a significant victory in its economic development efforts.    

“This is an important project for the Sacramento region, and we wish California Northstate University much success in establishing their teaching hospital in the area,” Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen said in the statement. 

Not long after being presented, opposition quickly formed in the Stonelake community on the city's far westside questioning the wisdom of placing the 13-floor hospital in an established neighborhood. Along with staging protests and generating opposition via advisory petitions, the group pressed councilmembers with their concerns.   

During the February 18 planning commission meeting, project proponents were flummoxed by planning commissioners on environmental issues and by questions on various claims made by the school. After the planning commission denied their request by a 3 - 0 vote (two commissioners recused themselves from the proceedings), CNU said it was temporarily pausing its plans.

The statement posted on the City of Rancho Cordova's website said, "Officials from the City of Rancho Cordova and California Northstate University (CNU) today announced the broad framework of an agreement that, if finalized, could bring a teaching hospital to the City of Rancho Cordova. The valuation of the project at full build-out could potentially reach $1.2 billion dollars."

In what could be considered a parting shot at Elk Grove, CNU's Alvin Cheung said the school was contacted by several regional jurisdictions expressing interest in their project. Cheung noted that it was "gratifying to feel included in the community and in the process.” 

Throughout the process, CNU, Cheung, and their spokespeople, including former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, were repeatedly criticized for the outreach efforts, with many people saying they displayed a condescending attitude. Davis, who is now running for the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors at one point called opponents of the project childish on social media. 

Primary opposition came from an Elk Grove-based neighborhood group calling itself Neighbors Ensuring Stonelake Transparency, or NEST, and a host of environmental groups, including the Environmental Council of Sacramento. Along with questioning placing the facility in an established neighborhood, questions arose about building a hospital in a flood plain and its proximity to the Stone Lake National Refuge. 

In reaction to today's announcement, NEST issued a statement saying "We are cautiously optimistic, based on the City's statement, that this 2+ year nightmare is over, and that Elk Grove is finally ready to engage in more thoughtful and proper planning practices.  This has been a clear lesson that any future project proposals involving CNU need to be carefully vetted and researched to ensure a transparent and beneficial outcome.  Furthermore, we strenuously encourage the City to help mitigate the damage that has been done by CNU to our small business neighbors and our community as a whole.  The City needs to see the destruction of small businesses as more than a private transaction, and we hope that all involved can work together to restore vibrant and valuable small businesses to Stonelake Landing." 

Since the project's introduction, the project became a politically volatile issue in Elk Grove. Steve Ly, who lost his reelection bid for Elk Grove mayor to Singh-Allen, was a proponent of the project, and that support is thought to have hurt him in last year's mayoral contest.  

The Rancho Cordova statement did not identify a location for the hospital, nor did it confirm if CNU's pharmacy and medical schools would leave Elk Grove. CNU's proposed hospital would have been build on the site of the Stonelake Landing shopping center, which the for-profit school owns. 

To make way for the hospital, the shopping center would have to be demolished and rezoned. Neither CNU, Elk Grove, or Rancho Cordova mentioned plans for the shopping center now that that site appears to have been abandoned.  

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Karma. As I recall, Elk Grove had poached CNU's pharmacy shool or the medical college away from Rancho Cordova. Karma.

BSA's press statement, “We appreciate their continued investment in our community and we are committed to continuing to work with the university to bring great projects to Elk Grove", sounds like a veiled plea for CNU to please not fold up their entire tent and leave town completely!

We can probably assume that CNU privatley polled the three eligible Councilmembers and the votes were just not there. By opposing the CNU project, two or three Councilmembers have demonstrated that they are 'all-in' for Dignity Hospital, and they have preserved their political capital with the Stonelakes voters to assist in any future political ambitions they may have.

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