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Old Westlake Hospital Property: Your Chance to Speak Up

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Express Your Opinion: It will make a difference

Over the past couple of years, people have expressed an interest to speak up on Westlake Village issues ... but sometimes, they are far too late in the game to make a difference.

Here's your chance to express an opinion, and have it count.
Read below ... and then we'll explain the straw poll Westlake Revelations is putting together.

Synopsis

HCA would like to sell the land that the old Westlake Hospital is on. But, there's very limited zoning and use allowed on this property. Sunrise Retirement would like to build 210+ independent/assisted living apartments on this property, but unlike most properties, the city council must make significant changes to the zoning for this to happen.

We as citizens need to voice our opinion to the city council as to whether we would like to have an independent/assisted living facility on this property, or if we would like to have a different use. As a result, Westlake Revelations is putting together a straw poll ... and the results will be publicly presented to the city council.

Bottom line: Just read the article. :)

Overview

In the mid-1990's, HCA (the parent company of Los Robles Hospital), closed Westlake Village's hospital, and patients were diverted to Los Robles in Thousand Oaks. Over the past several years, the property has had a variety of uses including an urgent care facility, and currently as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and information systems for Los Robles. These remaining uses are all moving out by this summer.

The zoning of this property is something very unusual -- Public Institutional. This is a very limited zoning type, and does not have the usual rights for the landowner. For example, this zone is permitted to have publicly owned libraries, museums, government offices, public services, auditoriums and theaters, hospitals, etc... See more on this below.

Now, HCA would like to sell the land to a developer (Sunrise Retirement) who is asking for a change to the City of Westlake Village's General Plan. The change would be to change the definition of "Public Institutional" zoning to include independent/assisted living.

With this change, Sunrise would be able to build a 210+ unit complex (similar to apartments but with specialized facilities for the elderly). This is not a nursing home, but an extended independent/assisted living facility (more on this below). The vast majority of the units (170) are independent living. To put this in perspective, 210+ apartments would add about 7% to the number of households we have in Westlake Village today (currently, approximately 3000 households).

The facility would have different types of housing, some with more services, some larger. For example, a single bedroom apartment is expected to start at $3500-4000 per month including utilities but not the other services. A two bedroom might be closer to $5000/mo. The facility would offer a wide array of services to its residents, including those that need a great deal more care/assistance, but these services would be at an additional cost above and beyond the rent mentioned above. See more on this below.

This complex would differ from Sunrise's existing facility in Westlake Village which has no independent living facilities, only assisted living, alzheimer's care, and nursing home services. The independent living units proposed are closer to traditionaly "apartments" with ammenities.

In short, the developers have gone to great lengths to present a well thought out plan for this 6-acre development, and the city now needs to decide if this is the type of use it would like to have for this unusual Public Institutional zoning.

While amending the general plan is likely the best way to accommodate this type of development, it is beyond the scope of the originally conceived Public Institutional zoning. That's not to say it's good or bad, it just means that this is a significant change to the zoning and general plan.

Obviously, HCA would like to have more options in zoning as it would make the land worth considerably more. We've heard values of approximately $5 million for the property with the current zoning, and that if the zoning changes occur, the property could be worth as much as $15-25 million.

Sunrise believes that it is responding to the desires of the community, and is looking to outreach to create the independent/assisted living facility that, in Sunrise's words, Westlake Village residents want.

There's more details below, but before we get to them, here's what you should think about.


  • Do you want this property to be used for independent/assisted living?
  • Do you like the idea, but want the developer to consider a different approach for parts of the proposal?
  • If you do want something different for this lot, what would that be?

This is what the upcoming straw poll will address. If you have suggestions for what you want to see, email them to me ... and we'll try to include in the straw poll where reasonable.

Now onto more details...

Can we have a hospital again?

In short, all the experts I've spoken to say no.

Everyone remembers restrictions on this property the last time HCA sold it. But, there does not appear to be anything on the deed to restrict a hospital. We asked HCA for comment on whether we should expect restrictions again in the future, but while they did respond to other queries, they would not respond to our more direct queries on this question. We interpret this non-answer as you should expect there be non-compete clauses for a hospital to any new owner.

Now, in addition, if there were to be a hospital here again, the current facility would have to be leveled, and we'd start over as it does not meet current seismic requirements for a hospital.

Everyone I spoke to says that a hospital is not economically viable in this location. And, that it would take at least $200 million to build a new one.

Public Institutional Zoning

According to the municipal code for Westlake Village, "the Public Institutional Zone is intended to apply to land which is used for public or quasi-public purposes."

This is a very limited, very simple to define zone. The whole section is only about a page long, and you can read it in full here.

In short, the code says that it can be used for:


  • publicly owned libraries or museums
  • governmental facilities
  • public service/utility structures

and there are conditionally permitted uses, subject to the City's approval:

  • civic auditoriums and theaters.
  • structures for religious purposes (e.g., churches)
  • fire and police stations.
  • hospitals and nursing homes, and related heliports.
  • schools
  • utilities structures including uses for water obtainment, storage
    and distribution
  • satellite earth stations, or other wireless facilities
  • special needs housing if designated by the general plan

Sunrise Retirement Facility

Sunrise has made an application to the City of Westlake Village, and this will go before the full city council for the first time on February 28, 2007. You can read the text of their application at the link below:

But to summarize, they have a comprehensive plan if this type of development were to go forward.

Some details of the plan:

The current property would be completely leveled, and new buildings would be put in their place. The buildings are within the height limits of Westlake Village, but would be 3 story instead of the permitted 2 story. There would be substantial underground parking for the residents, in addition to above ground parking that would be shared with the church next door.

The buildings themselves would be designed to avoid long facades close to the sidewalk and frontage, and a great deal of effort has gone into screening and privacy for both the development and its neighbors.

The buildings would be 272,000 sq. feet and cover 35% of the of the lot. It's an apartment type setup, resident ownership is not proposed. Sunset is looking to provide the following amenities:

1) Formal Dining
2) Casual Dining/Bistro
3) Library/Living Room with computer stations.
4) Multi-purposed room for activities such as dancing and seminars.
5) A multi-media/theater with fixed seating and a large screen.
6) Exercise area for weight training and aerobics.
7) Swimming pool
8) Spa/massage therapy room
9) Hair and nail salon.
10) Card room
11) Arts and crafts room
12) Valet
13) Sundries store.

Their proposal is a quick read, and you can see the full text, in their words, by clicking here.

In addition, Sunrise representatives gave us contact information "they have set up for the community to contact us with questions, comments and concerns." You can contact them at: (805) 633-5011 or info@SunriseofWestlake.com and their web site will be available in the next week at http://www.SunriseofWestlake.com

Other Options

Unlike many properties, the city has a great deal more control because of the Public Institutional zoning. One option is the Sunrise Retirement facility described above. There are also those that have suggested other uses such as:


  • Community Center (Teen, Senior, etc...)
  • Cemetery
  • Community Pool
  • Park (People)
  • Dog Park
  • Skate Park
  • Public Garden
  • Exploratorium, Museum, etc...
  • Leave it for future development

which may be possible with the City's approval.

What's the next step? How do you voice your opinion?

The city council cannot talk to every resident in Westlake Village, but we together, can easily express our opinion through a straw poll.

Over the next week, take a moment and think about three things.

1) Do you want this land used this way?
2) If you do, are there changes you'd like to see to Sunrise's plan?
3) If you don't, what other uses would you like to see?

Other than the suggestions here for Sunrise's plan, or other alternatives, do you have other ideas for use of this property? If so, please email them to me ... and we'll add to the straw poll if reasonable.

To avoid ballot stuffing or other nonsense, only those subscribed to Westlake Revelations will be allowed to vote. So, forward this email to anyone you think would want to vote.

To subscribe to Westlake Village, use the link at http://www.westlakerevelations.com/subscribe.php

To be clear, we're not voting yet -- we're collecting options for the straw poll so that we're not overlooking community based ideas for Sunrise, or for other uses. The straw poll will take place later this month.

Once the straw poll is ready, we'll send out an announcement to the list so that you can vote.