Lytton Casino paves its way towards DMC

on November 1, 2014

A lease agreement in May between Doctors Medical Center and the Lytton San Pablo Casino netted the beleaguered hospital $4.6 million. The deal kept the hospital doors open, but was also the beginning of what may become a land grab by local investors.

In the agreement, the casino leased property that overlaps with almost 150 feet of DMC’s land. According to plans submitted to the San Pablo Development Services Department on Sept. 22, the casino intends to tear out the existing parking area, which sits outside the J. C. Robinson, M.D. Regional Cancer Center behind DMC, paving the way for a new 164-car parking lot for the casino’s high rollers.

The easement agreement between DMC and Lytton is a 20-year deal that allows the casino to begin laying the foundation on acquired DMC property. Lytton’s construction plans would beautify the existing parking area in-between the buildings. Four city permits have been issued for the project.

 

An advertisement for DMC's land sale. Photo by Gabriel J. Sanchez

An advertisement for DMC’s land sale. (Photo by Gabriel J. Sanchez)

 

Though DMC has emerged from bankruptcy, the sporadic infusions of cash by the state and local agencies have been unable to stop the financial bleeding while it maintains its operations as a safety net hospital. DMC’s decade long fiscal problems may lead to its closure, shutting down the county’s largest emergency room and sending patients across Contra Costa, Marin and Alameda counties for medical care.

At city hall, San Pablo officials have begun a rezoning effort to take the 2000 Vale Road address, which DMC sits on, and convert the area to a C-1 Light Commercial zone. The “I” zoning facilitates hospitals, post offices, fire stations, schools and parks. The “C-1 Light Commercial” zoning would allow retail and commercial use of the property.

 

san Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez discussing the zoning issue. Photo by Gabriel J. Sanchez

San Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez discussing the zoning issue. (Photo by Gabriel J. Sanchez)

 

At a recent community meeting at San Pablo’s civic center, city Development Services Manager Michelle Rodriguez presented the city’s plans to the public, including development scenarios that the new zoning could facilitate, like a 100-room hotel, office space or a facility for “indoor recreation,” according to her presentation. But City Manager Matt Rodriguez assured those in attendance that the zone change “will only be triggered if the hospital stops being a hospital.”

DMC was officially put on the market last month with an asking price tag of $30 million. The purchaser will be able to choose to keep the property running as a full functioning hospital or take advantage of the new proposed zoning parameters to create a commercial space or expand on a 164-space parking lot.

Lytton Casino's plan for a new parking lot on DMC land. Photo by Gabriel J. Sanchez

Lytton Casino’s plan for a new parking lot on DMC land. (Photo by Gabriel J. Sanchez)

 

In order for a development to occur, there are certain criteria that must be met. The first, an internal environmental review, found that the change from hospital to mixed commercial use would have a “Less-Than-Significant impact” on air quality, noise pollution, and traffic congestion.

The second hurdle is providing an opportunity for the community to submit public comment. But when Michelle Rodriguez facilitated a recent meeting, few attended as the Bay Area was fixated on the final World Series game.

Public Comment Forms, which can be found here, will still be accepted by the City of San Pablo and the Development Services Department, before the planning commission meeting Nov. 18.

The city council will vote on the issue at the council meeting on Dec. 1 determining how the land that DMC sits will be zoned if the hospital is forced to close down.

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