Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boise Residents Not Alone in Facing Threats From Corporate Hospital Expansion

Some folks buy into a well-promoted myth that this is an issue involving a few dozen cyclists. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is about neighborhood and community integrity; it's about the suburbanization of a historic residential district; it's also about boundaries and values.

As the Keep Boise Connected network has grown, we're learning more about St. Luke's and the U.S. corporate health care industry than any of us ever wanted to know...mainly from St. Luke's employees, physicians and contractors. We're also learning that Boise is not alone; communities and historic residential neighborhoods across America have been or are being decimated and isolated by unchecked private hospital expansion.

Here are a few stories that seem eerily familiar:

Defend Urban Neighborhoods - Rochester, NY
"We are Rochester, New York city residents who believe urban neighborhoods thrive when residents, visitors, businesses, institutions and parks share space wisely. We are not anti-growth; rather, we urge government, businesses and institutions to consider the value of balance and scale to keep neighborhoods vital. Growth should be efficient, appropriate and intelligent – in other words, the opposite of sprawl. We urge all parties to practice thoughtful development and economic growth."

"We don't believe we are overreacting. Hospital expansion into urban neighborhoods is happening all over the country and this is the way it begins: the purchase of homes, rezoning to commercial and the demise of the neighborhood. 
Like other urban communities faced with this threat, we want the hospital to respect our boundaries. Like those communities that have been successful, we need an interested public and political will to support us."

Portland, Oregon — "Fifty years later, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center attempts to make amends for razing neighborhood"
"People who lived in the area were totally in the dark about what was going to happen," she said. 
The hospital submitted its plans. And the city, the Portland Development Commission and a Model Cities Citizens Planning Board approved them—all without hearing from residents. 
The council finally allowed residents to speak in a July 1970 meeting. But it approved the plans, with only one minor change, in the same meeting."

"Substantially increased traffic associated with the proposed expansion would make the existing congestion on Cherry Street and James Street (especially as it connects with Interstate 5) even worse. Four additional intersections in the neighborhood would operate at extreme congestion during peak hours.

The intensity of development proposed by Swedish and Sabey could translate into additional conversion of residential-zoned property into commercial uses.
Bottom line: The proposed expansion simply cannot be accommodated at Swedish’s Cherry Hill hospital without posing an existential threat to an established, lively and diverse Seattle neighborhood.

The proposal that Swedish and Sabey have presented ignores the city’s own Land Use Code. It should be rejected.

RIDGEWOOD — In a surprising and resounding defeat for The Valley Hospital, the Planning Board on Tuesday night voted against the hospital’s plan to nearly double in size.

“It’s a great decision for Ridgewood,” said Thomas McAndrews. “It would have strained our quality of life if it were allowed to go through.”The audience erupted in cheers after each vote against a master plan amendment that would have allowed the expansion. When the voting was done, the count was 5 to 2 against and residents who have opposed expansion for eight years were rejoicing in the auditorium of Benjamin Franklin Middle School, where the meeting was held.
Most of the board members who rejected the plan used the same word — “detrimental” — in explaining the impact of the proposed expansion on the village. 
“It’s Valley’s burden to show that change is warranted and I don’t believe Valley has met that burden,” said Mayor Paul Aronsohn, who is also on the Planning Board and cast a vote against the amendment. “I don’t think the proposal will serve the best interests of the community.” 
Kevin Reilly, another board member who voted against the plan, agreed. “The impacts from this amendment are detrimental to the community,” he said.

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