The Beach Cities Health District has released its draft of an environmental study that analyzes potential consequences of a proposed development in Redondo Beach that could break ground next year.
That state-mandated study, called a draft environmental impact report, is for the proposed $370 million redevelopment of the Healthy Living Campus, 514 N. Prospect Ave., which is largely in Redondo but has a sliver in Torrance. The report will be under public review until June, at which point the board of directors for the Beach Cities Health District could make changes to it and ultimately vote to certify the final EIR.
That certification would be a major step forward in seeing the project — plans for which first went before the public in 2017 before being redone in a revised 2019 master plan — become a reality.
The 90-day public review period is double the normal length, underscoring the controversy the project has prompted. Opponents succeeded in getting the health district, which covers the South Bay beach cities and Torrance, to scale down the project by $160 million last year.
As we move forward with the whole campus,” said health district CEO Tom Bakaly said, “we want to look at how we can redevelop it to meet our health needs, address safety issues (like the old hospital building not meeting seismic requirements,) and generate funds for our programs in a way that impacts the neighborhood to the least extent possible.”
Potential, but “less than significant” community consequences of the project, according to the draft EIR, include pollution, glares from light, shade on surrounding properties, obstructed views because of building heights, increased traffic, noise in nearby residential neighborhoods and ground vibration during construction, and the removal of trees that could harm some wildlife.
Many of these consequences, however, fall below the threshold at which California environmental law requires efforts to reduce those impacts. And for those that don’t, the EIR offers specific solutions. To prevent the project from obstructing the views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula hills, for example, the health district could reduce the height of the proposed elderly residential care building. To minimize pollution during construction, the district could require special equipment that produces less-harmful emissions. And, to prevent birds’ homes from accidentally being destroyed during construction, it could require surveys of nesting areas before work begins.
The report, as required by state law, also offers several alternatives to development, including moving the project on another site; building only a new hospital, medical offices or assisted living units, rather than all three; or not pursuing the project at all.
The health agency could also nix access to the facility from Flagler Lane.
While those alternatives seem unlikely, given the years of work the health district has put into planning the development, the board of directors will likely weigh the EIR’s suggestions for how to minimize the various environmental impacts the project could have.
The development’s plans, in their current form, would have two phases.
Phase one would include the 203,700 square-foot elderly residential care building, with 157 assisted living units; a Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly; and 60 memory care units. There would also be space in the building for community services and a youth wellness center. The center would be demolished and replaced with nearly 115,000 square feet of open space and an 86-space parking lot, with spots for those with disabilities and electric vehicle charging stations.
At least five years after the first stage, phase two would begin. That phase would create a community wellness pavilion, with an indoor aquatics center, fitness center and a detached parking structure.
The health district has scheduled multiple virtual public meetings, at which people can comment on the plan and the EIR. The first is set for 6:30 p.m. March 24. There are also meetings scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 13 and noon on April 17. Information on accessing those meetings is available on the BCHD website.
The public can also submit written comments on the report to the Beach Cities Health District online, at https://bit.ly/2P1bbvH, or by emailing EIR@bchd.org.Folks can also send comments via mail to “Nick Meisinger, re: Healthy Living Campus, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc., 9177 Sky Park Court, San Diego, CA, 92123.” The deadline to comment is June 10.
Comments received by the deadline will be included in the final environmental impact report, along with the health agency’s responses to them.
That final report and a vote by the health agency’s board of directors on whether to certify it are expected this summer. The board will then make a final decision on approving the project in the fall. Construction could start in spring 2022.