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Judge tosses CAHS/SCOPE lawsuit over hospital expansion

Posted: February 15, 2010 12:02 p.m.
Updated: February 15, 2010 2:52 p.m.
On Thursday a California Superior Court Judge ruled against The Community Advocates for Healthcare SCV (CAHS) and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) in public interest litigation filed in opposition of a massive office expansion.

This challenge was brought to ensure that promised hospital facilities would actually be delivered, and to protect our community from the horrendous impacts of three large office buildings to be developed in a residential zoned area.

On voting against this controversial project last year, then-Mayor Kellar stated from the podium, "The real issue is building three massive medical office buildings by a private developer in the middle of a residential area that was never intended for this kind of high density office building."

He added, "Overriding consideration could be given to inpatient hospital expansion, but not to a Beverly Hills developer, I feel strongly about that.

"This is not 21st century planning, we're back to the 20th century with this."

"We joined this suit to ensure that needed hospital facilities would actually be built," said Dr. Gene Dorio, "As a doctor who treats our seniors, I have long been concerned about healthcare in our community. We wanted appropriate mitigation."

"The terrible impacts of additional traffic from three multi-story office buildings and the new helicopter pad should not be imposed on any residential community," said Cam Noltemeyer, SCOPE Board member. "We wanted to ensure that promised hospital facilities would be forthcoming, while lessening the severe impacts that this residential neighborhood will suffer.

"We also wanted to ensure that the office buildings would be as energy efficient as possible," Noltemeyer said. "New facilities at Holy Cross are being built to green LEED1 standards to reduce energy use and air pollution; why should Santa Clarita accept less? Santa Clarita has some of the worst air quality in the nation. We must require such standards for new buildings in this valley."

In statements from the bench that contradict official state policy, the judge indicated his belief that the science supporting climate change was not settled.

He implied that the petitioners' argument that the city should require adequate mitigation of global warming impacts was therefore not valid. He did not feel that adequate feasible mitigation measures, such as improved energy efficiency, needed to be required. He stated that massive campaign contributions were legal, therefore no one could argue bias in this matter.

"A company that would come into our community and attempt to buy our elections, is hardly the kind of a company that I want to have involved in the medical healthcare and protection of our community in the future." Mayor Kellar said during the project hearing.

"In typical special interest style, G and L Realty, developers of the three multi-story office buildings and parking structures, has tried to imply that our community efforts interfered with hospital expansion," he said. "This is the same large realty company that contributed $30,000 to the campaign for Laurie Ender in the last election. This $30,000 was the single largest campaign contribution in the City Council race."

It should be noted that at no time did our community groups take any action against the hospital itself.

We continue to believe that the failure to ensure promised benefits in the development agreement and failure to fully mitigate impacts to the extent of the law, are a loss not just to us, but for the entire Santa Clarita Valley.

Upon issuance of a final judgment, we will consider our options for appeal.

This story is posted in The Signal's SCV Raw section. Click here for more information about SCV Raw.


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