VA Clinic house owners are interesting town’s approval for the proposed new clinic in northwest Bakersfield Information
The owners of a veterans clinic in Bakersfield have filed two appeals – one to Bakersfield City Council and one to the Planning Commission – over a proposal to build a new veterans clinic near Olive Drive.
Progress for Bakersfield Veterans, LLC, which owns the existing clinic operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Westwind Drive, has been against the new clinic for years, and the two appeals filed on Friday have the potential to further delay the project.
“The proposed location is not ideal for Bakersfield veterans,” Allen Hubsch, one of the current owners, said in a press release this week.
“Our organization is concerned about the hugely flawed process that has resulted in poor siting for our veterans and unnecessarily high costs for taxpayers,” he said.
Congress approved the construction of a new facility in 2010, but for years the local frustration grew as other areas built new facilities as progress slowed in Bakersfield.
In 2018, the VA awarded San Diego-based SASD a lease to build a $ 40 million facility near the Olive and Knudsen drives. The deal collapsed a year later when Progress for Bakersfield Veterans protested.
PBV has long argued that renovating the Westwind Drive site would be cheaper for taxpayers and better for veterans.
In a unanimous decision on Jan. 7, the Planning Commission issued a mitigating negative statement to the project, a requirement under California’s Environmental Quality Act that essentially means that the city believes the project will not have a significant impact on the environment.
At the January 7 meeting, the commissioners of the employee analysis appeared to agree that the new location would have no significant environmental impact.
However, in its appeals, PBV included a long list of complaints in response to the planning commission’s acceptance of a mitigating negative statement and the development service manager’s approval of a review of the site plan for the new site.
PBV claims that the city’s rush to approve this project resulted in numerous procedural and material deficiencies, including the city’s failure to provide PBV with a notice of the application for a review of the site plan or a notice of the preparation of the declaration.
The appeal also alleges that the project was “hastily reviewed”, that the environmental document was distributed over the Christmas holidays to make it less accessible to the public, that the proposed site is plagued by pre-existing traffic congestion and that the proposed clinic has done so would have less usable space than the existing clinic.
Urban Planning Director Paul Johnson, reached on Tuesday, said the city had taken all necessary steps to review the application for the proposed project, which was submitted in May by the San Diego-based SASD. The developer stated that he had resolved his problems with the VA and was back as a developer.
“We make public notifications as needed,” Johnson said in response to PBV’s allegations.
The spread of the environmental document over the Christmas holidays was simply due to the timing of the process, he said.
And urban traffic engineers and area traffic censuses are routinely included in the analysis of a proposed project.
Regarding PBV’s argument that the current location is superior to the Knudsen Drive location, Johnson said it is the job of city staff and the planning committee to consider applications at their own discretion.
“An application has been submitted,” he said. “We checked that.”
At the same time, PBV filed its second appeal on Friday against the approval of the review of the site plan. Although they believe the two issues are related, they had to file separate complaints, the press release said.
At future hearings, the city council will hear the complaint against the mitigating negative statement and the planning committee will hear the complaint related to the review of the site plan.
Reporter Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @semayerTBC.