Legal issues cause Vallejo staff to pull appeal

La Clinica de la Raza, Inc., is seeking to open a newer, bigger downtown clinic at 415-417 Georgia St. JOHN GLIDDEN — TIMES-HERALD file

POSTED: 06/20/17, 6:44 PM PDT
Planning commissioners and audience members were left with questions Monday night after city staff requested the commission delay a public hearing regarding the relocation of a clinic in downtown Vallejo.

The commission was set to hear an appeal from the Central Core Restoration Corporation (CCRC), which objected to City Hall’s approval of an application from La Clinica de la Raza, Inc., to establish a large clinic at 415 and 417 Georgia St.

Brian Millar, the city’s planning consultant said staff needed to pull the appeal from planning commission consideration because of a “critical process-related issue that has come to our attention.”

Inder Khalsa, a legal consultant hired by the city, concurred with Millar, stating there were legal issues that needed to be researched.

“(I) believe we don’t have any other choice,” she said, when asked if removal was the only option. Her response caused murmuring from those in attendance to hear the appeal.

Khalsa declined to elaborate further on the legal issue.

Reached by phone Tuesday, City Attorney Claudia Quintana also declined to give specifics. She also couldn’t confirm when and if the appeal will be heard before the commission.

In late March, city staff approved the La Clinica application, which seeks to relocate an existing health care facility. La Clinica currently has a medical center in the downtown at 243 Georgia St. That location, along with a dental clinic, would be consolidated into one health center at 415-417 Georgia St. The new clinic is expected to operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Saturdays.

It’s anticipated at full operation, the project would employ about 100 full-time individuals, serving up to 220 patients each day.

The CCRC, a downtown organization funded from tax assessments on local property owners, filed an appeal citing concerns over parking and the placement of a medical facility in the downtown.

“The CCRC and many members of the community do oppose the placement of the clinic in the downtown area and Georgia Street Corridor. This small area, including its parking and traffic circulation, is vital to the existing business community of Vallejo,” according to the appeal filed on March 31. “There are many other areas, within only a few blocks of the downtown/Georgia Street Corridor, which are available and suitable for La Clinica’s proposed consolidation of its clinics.”

CCRC has also expressed concern the project will harm the downtown long-term. The Vallejo City Council in 2011 approved an interim measure allowing medical services to open along the Georgia Street Corridor. The move was in response to the economic downturn and sought to revitalized the area.

La Clinica submitted its application last August, months before the interim measure expired in December 2016.

“From a long-range planning standpoint, allowing medical services uses to dominate a small area and its parking in the core downtown will hurt existing commercial, retail, office and residential uses in that area,” the same March 2017 appeal contends.

In its appeal, the downtown organization disagreed with a parking report prepared by a third-party hired by the city.

The February 2017 report authored by TJKM Transportation Consultants analyzed the downtown parking availability concluding “that there is ample parking available to satisfy the demand for La Clinica as it relocates to 415-417 Georgia Street in downtown Vallejo.”

According to the CCRC, “TJKM does not account for the special events and activities that are held in the area. When the events are held, the lot fill up quickly, and such lots (and street parking) need to address the needs of existing businesses.”

The CCRC also expressed a belief the project requires an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because of issues of parking and circulation.

In a letter dated last October, La Clinica officials stated many of its clients live in downtown Vallejo and the clinic will attract less traffic than a retail business. Thus, the demand for parking will be less, clinic officials added.

Contact John Glidden at (707) 553-6832.