Members of the Planning Commission turned down Huntington Memorial Hospital’s application to facilitate the construction of a medical office building within the South Fair Oaks that is drawing increasing ire from the community.
With a 5-2 vote against, the commissioners on Wednesday denied the request of Huntington for conditional use and minor conditional use permits that would have allowed construction of a 100,285 square-foot medical office building at 758 and 766 South Fair Oaks Ave.
Commissioners Steven Olivas and Jason Lyon were absent during the meeting.
The proposed development included a four-story building and three levels of subterranean parking with 251 on-site parking spaces and 45 off-site shared parking spaces
Huntington Hospital’s President and CEO Dr. Lori Morgan said the development would assure Huntington’s long term viability in Pasadena.
“Our mission is to provide compassionate high quality health care to our community and this project bears that mission in mind,” Morgan said. “For better health care access, we need to move more of our care into the outpatient arena and this building is critical to that effort.”
Neighborhood associations and concerned citizens who spoke during the public hearing expressed their opposition to the development.
The majority of them asked the applicant to continue to dialogue with the community as they raised concerns on the project’s design, potential increased traffic in the neighborhood, and increased noise and air pollution, among other worries.
Dan Beal, President of West Pasadena Residents Association stressed the need for the continuation of the community outreach for the project.
Beal also expressed the need for the development to conform to the updated South Fair Oaks Specific Plan, which is now being developed.
Erika Foy of the Madison Heights Neighborhood Association concurred with Beal.
“I know that Huntington Hospital is disappointed in the pushback on their project from the community. To many of us, it’s not easy because we love the hospital,” Foy said.
“Those of us that have been diligently working on these plans and the future of the area have just put in so much time and energy that we are certain that this project could better conform to the vision being created,” Foy added.
“It would be great to have continuance because we want to help bring this issue to closure. Organizations like Huntington Hospital should not be facing roadblocks like these,” she continued.
Commissioner Mic Hansen concurred with the public, specifically on the need to address design issues to conform with the specific plan and to conduct further study on the project’s impact on traffic.
“Im baffled by the traffic study. I have a great deal of concerns and I lament the fact that the applicant is not willing to have a continuance so that all these neighborhood associations and various stakeholders could sit down with them and come to a good resolution because we revere Huntington Hospital. It’s an extremely important community member.”
“It’s a shame that a dialogue can’t be continued with the neighbors and the organizations so that we’d give it another month to have a really good project,” Hansen said.
Commissioner Lambert Giessinger agreed that more community outreach is needed.
“To sort of have this friction at this point seems odd to me that it would seem like this kind of project, properly designed with everyone on board will sail through the system, it wouldn’t have people speaking against it at this point in the process.”
The commissioners who voted in the negative to the motion to deny the project are commissioners Julianna Delgado and Tim Wendler. The two voted no as they reasoned out that the most of the issues raised can be refined during the design review process.
The five commissioners who voted yes to the denial are commissioners Hansen, Giessinger, David Coher, Carol Hunt Hernandez and Andrea Rawlings.