Kaiser Permanente explores plan for parking, new emergency department at Terra Linda campus

Kaiser Permanente is planning big changes at its Terra Linda medical center. 
Hospital officials this week went before the San Rafael Design Review Board for preliminary review of conceptual plans that include seismic retrofit of the four-story parking structure and demolition of the two-story portion to make way for a new four-story structure that will add 290 on-site parking spaces.

Early plans also include demolition of a 14,740-square-foot portion of the one-story general services building and construction of a new 17,550-square-foot structure for the emergency department.

"The new emergency department, a replacement of the existing department, will better accommodate today's advanced medical technology and help ensure that patients continue to receive superior health care and service," according to a statement released by Kaiser officials, who declined to be interviewed.

"Kaiser Permanente strives to be a good neighbor, and these plans also include a seismic retrofit and addition to an existing parking structure on campus that will add 290 parking spaces," the statement read. "This portion of the project will be built in phases to ensure continued parking access during construction, and Kaiser Permanente will continue to provide designated offsite parking until the parking structure is complete."

Should the hospital decide to proceed, a formal application would return to the Design Review Board for a recommendation and then to the city's Planning Commission for final approval, city officials said. If approved by the city, the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and the hospital's board of directors, construction could begin next year.

"I think so far from the preliminary plans it seems like it's on the right track definitely," said Raffi Boloyan, a senior planner with the city. "In concept it seems like a good solution."

Parking has been a hot potato in the community for years as neighbors have complained about staffers and patients who park their cars on neighborhood streets. The hospital has sought a solution beyond using valets to maximize the top floor of its parking garage, moving some patient services from Terra Linda to Petaluma and setting up a shuttle for 170 spaces leased at the nearby Northgate mall.

In 2008, Kaiser scrapped plans to build a 270-space lot on a field owned by the Dixie School District. The hospital had sought a 15-year lease for a 2.5-acre space at the corner of Montecillo Road and Nova Albion Way in exchange for new soccer and baseball fields for the district.

"Kaiser Permanente San Rafael decided to withdraw its request to lease the Dixie School property because an agreement could not be reached," according to a hospital statement released at the time. "As a good neighbor, Kaiser Permanente is committed to promoting alternate transportation at all of our campus sites as we continue to investigate alternatives to alleviate the parking situation at the medical center."

So far, the most recent scheme appeals to residents, said Reuel Brady, president of the Terra Linda Homeowners Association.

"As far as we can see the improvements are all on their complex and we think that's a good place to start," he said.
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