Los Alamitos planners review hospital expansion plans

The Los Alamitos Planning Commission reviewed the Los Alamitos Medical Center’s Specific Plan during a Monday, Nov. 8,public hearing.

The planners didn’t make a decision on the plan. The hospital is proposing a three-phase expansion over the next 25 years. That will include the proposed construction of a 75,000 square-foot medical office building, a second four-story building to house 128 beds and a 1,000-space parking garage. Upon completion, the hospital will gain more than 140 beds, many of them private rooms which LAMC officials say are needed. About 65 percent of the current rooms are occupied by two or four patients.

Once the new beds are completed, the number of beds in the main building will be cut.

Critics of the plan say the proposal is moving way too fast and want the city to slow the process down. Some critics are worried that if the hospital plan is approved, retail development along the Katella corridor will be curtailed and parking, already an issue, will become worse.

Community Development Director Steven Mendoza said the second hearing before the Planning Commission would not be the final hearing as residents would have the chance to go before the council before it makes a final decision on the plan.

The results of an Environmental Impact Review was presented before the hearing.

Collette Morse, Project Manager with RBF Consulting, said the team looked at such matters as traffic, air quality and noise. Paul Martin, a traffic consultant with RBF, said the proposed expansion would only amount to about 4,000 daily trips, from 10 to 14,000 trips in the area.

He said would amount to about one-third the trips made to Old Ranch Town Center or similar to 2-3 fast food restaurants. Martin said a number of improvements will be made to Katella to help traffic flow more smoothly.

Resident J.M. Ivler asked if any study had been done on the expected increase in traffic coming from the West County Connectors project.

“Katella will become a parking lot,” Ivler said.

Martin said the best equipment will be used to mitigate noise and that construction will be subject to the city’s noise ordinance, which has a limit of 55 decibels inside and 70 decibels outside.

Seventy decibels is considered average street noise such as cars traveling.

Mendoza said the expansion, if approved by the council, would provide about 1,600 construction jobs as well as provide more than 650 doctors and hospital employees with state of the art facilities.

He said that with a number of area hospitals closing, having a modern hospital would attract business.

The commission next meets on Monday, Dec. 8.