Initiative won't likely affect medical clinic
Publication Date: Wednesday Sep 20, 1995

LAND USE: Initiative won't likely affect medical clinic

Palo Alto Medical Foundation plans wouldn't be delayed

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation's plan to start building a new campus of buildings probably wouldn't be delayed if Measure R is passed by Palo Alto voters Nov. 7.

But City Attorney Ariel Calonne, who has written an impartial analysis of the initiative's effect, declined to say what definitely would happen to certain projects.

"Would it affect (the clinic)?" Calonne said. "Probably not."

There were fears at the Medical Foundation that the initiative could delay all building permits for six months after the election because of something Calonne wrote in his ballot analysis.

He wrote that city officials would have six months to bring all city laws into compliance with the terms of the initiative.

But since many city zoning regulations cited in the initiative would remain exactly the same, passage of Measure R would not likely mean much in terms of delays. And Calonne said it definitely would not mean a blanket moratorium on all building permits.

"That's a gross overstatement of my analysis," he said.

The one scenario under which passage of Measure R could delay projects would be if the city staff, Planning Commission and City Council could not modify the zoning laws for the California Avenue business district within the required six months.

That could mean a citywide moratorium, Calonne said. But it's also very possible that the city could change the California Avenue regulations within the six months.

California Avenue figures prominently in the possibilities because it is the one area that the initiative calls for a significant down-zoning, from the current 2:1 floor-area-ratio (FAR) to a 1:1 FAR.

Jay Thorwaldson, the director of public affairs for the Medical Foundation, said that clinic officials concur that passage of Measure R would not have an immediate effect on their plans.

Measure R was never intended to affect the medical foundation plans, said Emily Renzel, a member of Citizens for Affirmative Planning, which is sponsoring Measure R. "There's nothing in there that prevents the medical clinic from moving," she said. "We went to Ariel (Calonne) to make sure it wouldn't interfere."

The Foundation is in the process of obtaining permits to build 305,000 square feet of new buildings off Urban Lane near El Camino Real, between the Town & Country Shopping Center and the Holiday Inn. The Foundation would then vacate its current facilities south of downtown.

Thorwaldson said the current schedule, unless there are delays, is for the City Council to consider final approval of the clinic's plans in mid-December, well after the election.

--Don Kazak

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