Pushback - Elk Grove City Council hears objections on proposed $750 million hospital

Clockwise from upper left, Dr. Alvin Cheung, Northstate California University, Ms Brown, co-owner
 of Dreaming Dog Brewery; Randy Bekker; and Stonelake resident Barbara Patterson.
At the December 20 announcement by the Northstate California University on their proposed $750 million hospital, it was widely hailed by the Elk Grove elected officials and bureaucrats as a step in the city's economic development. While the announcement gained widespread coverage, the afterglow of the started to wear off almost immediately as more details emerged on the proposed facility by the for-profit medical school.

Some of the criticism of the project and the Elk Grove City Council's role came during last night's first meeting of the year. Although the proposed 250-bed facility has not yet appeared on the agenda for the city council, several Elk Grove residents spoke in opposition to the project.

Among the more pointed comments came from Randy Bekker who implied the city council members were used as props by the medical school officials. That news conference was widely covered by local media outlets. 

"I watched the dog and pony show, and quite frankly, afterward, all I can say is that you were all propped-up and became props," Bekker told the council members and Mayor Steve Ly. "There was no interaction with citizens, not one, other than the ones invited."

Another person speaking against the facility was Stonelake neighborhood resident Barbara Patterson. Stonelake is the high-end housing development directly adjacent to the existing school on Taron Drive on the city's far southwestern corner and site of the proposed hospital. 

"As a homeowner in Elk Grove, I am adamantly against putting a hospital on West Taron," Patterson said. "If the mayor of this city really had our best interest at heart he would be steering these types of businesses to the eyesore area of the abandoned building at 99 and Grant Line."

As the proposal stands now, the Stone Lake Landing shopping center on the southwest corner of Taron Drive and Elk Grove Boulevard, which is owned by the Northstate California University, would be demolished to make way for the hospital. To facilitate that action, the Elk Grove City Council would have to approve a rezone of the area.

Also speaking during public comments was the for-profit school's president and chief executive officer, Dr. Alvin Cheung, MD. Cheung who was one of the first speakers but left immediately after finishing his comments was criticized by Patterson for not staying to hear the comments from Stonelake residents. 

"We are looking forward to including many people and organizations as we go forward," Chung said. "We are taking concrete steps to reach out and work with [the] business community, neighborhood leaders, and local organizations." 

Chung also said his organization "has a process established to work each and every business impacted" by the possible demolition of the shopping center. Many of the business owners in that shopping center have expressed dismay with the proposal that would affect their businesses.

One of those businesses is Dreaming Dog Brewery which has 13 years remaining on its lease with the school. Appearing during before the city council was Elizabeth Brown, who along with her husband David Brown owned the increasingly popular brewery and criticized the city council.

"I, As a small business owner feel completely betrayed the city of Elk Grove," Brown said. "I trusted you to watch out for us. I believed that the city encouraged and wanted small businesses, but you said that is OK until a bigger business with more money and more tax revenue comes in and we'll just find a place for you. There isn't a place for us." 

She added if the brewery is forced out of business by the city council's decision to rezone the shopping center at the behest of the school, "I will look back at my time in Elk Grove with sadness instead of joy, and regret instead of fulfillment."


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Unknown said...

Looking into my crystal ball...hmm, I see a big storm on the horizon. I see the City hosting token public meetings out in Stonelake for PR sake...I see a bogus project review process with a decision already pre-determined. Hmm, I see the City playing the nice guy part and offering some business relocation money directly or indirectly thru the university (i.e the Pappas method). I see the university admitting that it does not accept major insurance plans, and so the hospital is not truly serving the community, but well-heeled foreign cash-paying customers. I see the Mayor having to explain his trip(s) to China where he discussed this project. I see the Economic Development department offering cash awards for each job created and taking ample credit. And I see Darren Suen voting NO on the project just to protect his re-election.

That is one mighty big storm headed our way! We're not in Kansas anymore. This is GroveTown!

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