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Hospital's expansion plans trigger traffic concerns

Council eyes El Camino's proposed new medical offices and parking structures

The growing Bay Area population is putting the squeeze on El Camino Hospital, maxing out parking and pushing maternity and outpatient services to the limit. The cure, according to hospital officials, is a new seven-story medical building and two new parking garages.

On Tuesday, Mountain View City Council members reviewed the proposed project, which has yet to begin a year-long environmental review. The plans call for a new 230,000-square-foot, seven- or eight-story tall medical office building next to the main hospital in the center of the campus. Next to it would be a new, 320-stall parking structure.

The project also includes an expansion of the northwest parking structure, and a new two-story Behavioral Health building with nearly three times the square footage of the current building. El Camino Hospital, all told, would increase the number of parking spaces by 485 -- a 25 percent increase -- and hospital officials expect the new office space to bring hundreds of new patient visits every day.

Council member concerns were focused squarely on traffic. Council member Mike Kasperzak said he didn't have any real issues with the overall plans proposed by the hospital, and that his biggest concern was on managing traffic in the area.

The only way to get to the hospital is along through Grant Road, which connects to North and South Drive on the hospital campus. Grant Road is congested throughout the day, and more hospital employees and patients could make it even worse.

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"Grant Road is a subject we should be talking about. It's a fiasco out there," said council member Ken Rosenberg. "It's as bad as Shoreline going into North Bayshore in the morning."

Rosenberg said the city's new shuttle system, which currently makes a stop at the hospital, could be part of the solution. If initial ridership data is minimal, he said, the city could work on outreach and advertise the shuttle as a way to get to the hospital.

About 20 of the hospital's 1,300 employees are using the shuttle in "varying ways," according to according to Ken King, chief administrative services officer at El Camino Hospital. King said the hospital would be willing to figure out ways to expand use of the shuttle service for its employees, patients and visitors. Alternative forms of transportation may not be a good fit for everyone visiting the hospital though.

"If you're sick or injured, I don't know if you're going to get on your bike or take the shuttle," said council member John Inks.

Council member Lenny Siegel said Grant Road is a special case in that traffic is bad in both directions, unlike North Bayshore, and boosting the number of parking spaces by 25 percent indicates the hospital is going to be exacerbating the traffic conditions.

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Strained facilities

Inadequate space in the Women's Hospital is one of the primary problems fueling the need for the project, according to King. He said the young, high-tech workforce drawn to the area are defying population projections, which originally predicted the number of women of child-bearing age would decrease in the coming years.

Instead, the number of births are increasing, and the hospital delivered an average of 4,300 babies each year for the last three years. King said the building was only designed to handle 3,600 deliveries a year.

"There are days where we are virtually busting at the seams with the higher number of births," King said.

There actually is enough space in the Women's Hospital to accommodate the higher demand, but the second and third floors of the building are currently occupied by medical and physician offices. The indirect solution, according to King, is the relocate those upper-level offices to the new medical office building. He said the shifting means that of the 230,000 square feet of new office space, overall hospital office space would increase by only about 60,000.

Parking is also tough on the hospital campus right now. A parking count last year showed 92 percent occupancy of its thousands of parking stalls during peak hours. The project would add a four-story, 360-stall addition to the north parking garage as well as a 320-stall parking structure near the main hospital building.

Council member Chris Clark cautioned the hospital to consider pedestrian circulation at the hospital. The hospital is already "kind of a pain" to get around, he said, and the north garage addition means there needs to be a good way for pedestrians to get where they need to be.

"Once you're actually on the campus its really hard to get from one end to another without running into a building or having to go through a building," Clark said.

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Kevin Forestieri
Kevin Forestieri is an assistant editor with the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac. He joined the Voice in 2014 and has reported on schools, housing, crime and health. Read more >>

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Hospital's expansion plans trigger traffic concerns

Council eyes El Camino's proposed new medical offices and parking structures

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 6:07 pm

The growing Bay Area population is putting the squeeze on El Camino Hospital, maxing out parking and pushing maternity and outpatient services to the limit. The cure, according to hospital officials, is a new seven-story medical building and two new parking garages.

On Tuesday, Mountain View City Council members reviewed the proposed project, which has yet to begin a year-long environmental review. The plans call for a new 230,000-square-foot, seven- or eight-story tall medical office building next to the main hospital in the center of the campus. Next to it would be a new, 320-stall parking structure.

The project also includes an expansion of the northwest parking structure, and a new two-story Behavioral Health building with nearly three times the square footage of the current building. El Camino Hospital, all told, would increase the number of parking spaces by 485 -- a 25 percent increase -- and hospital officials expect the new office space to bring hundreds of new patient visits every day.

Council member concerns were focused squarely on traffic. Council member Mike Kasperzak said he didn't have any real issues with the overall plans proposed by the hospital, and that his biggest concern was on managing traffic in the area.

The only way to get to the hospital is along through Grant Road, which connects to North and South Drive on the hospital campus. Grant Road is congested throughout the day, and more hospital employees and patients could make it even worse.

"Grant Road is a subject we should be talking about. It's a fiasco out there," said council member Ken Rosenberg. "It's as bad as Shoreline going into North Bayshore in the morning."

Rosenberg said the city's new shuttle system, which currently makes a stop at the hospital, could be part of the solution. If initial ridership data is minimal, he said, the city could work on outreach and advertise the shuttle as a way to get to the hospital.

About 20 of the hospital's 1,300 employees are using the shuttle in "varying ways," according to according to Ken King, chief administrative services officer at El Camino Hospital. King said the hospital would be willing to figure out ways to expand use of the shuttle service for its employees, patients and visitors. Alternative forms of transportation may not be a good fit for everyone visiting the hospital though.

"If you're sick or injured, I don't know if you're going to get on your bike or take the shuttle," said council member John Inks.

Council member Lenny Siegel said Grant Road is a special case in that traffic is bad in both directions, unlike North Bayshore, and boosting the number of parking spaces by 25 percent indicates the hospital is going to be exacerbating the traffic conditions.

Strained facilities

Inadequate space in the Women's Hospital is one of the primary problems fueling the need for the project, according to King. He said the young, high-tech workforce drawn to the area are defying population projections, which originally predicted the number of women of child-bearing age would decrease in the coming years.

Instead, the number of births are increasing, and the hospital delivered an average of 4,300 babies each year for the last three years. King said the building was only designed to handle 3,600 deliveries a year.

"There are days where we are virtually busting at the seams with the higher number of births," King said.

There actually is enough space in the Women's Hospital to accommodate the higher demand, but the second and third floors of the building are currently occupied by medical and physician offices. The indirect solution, according to King, is the relocate those upper-level offices to the new medical office building. He said the shifting means that of the 230,000 square feet of new office space, overall hospital office space would increase by only about 60,000.

Parking is also tough on the hospital campus right now. A parking count last year showed 92 percent occupancy of its thousands of parking stalls during peak hours. The project would add a four-story, 360-stall addition to the north parking garage as well as a 320-stall parking structure near the main hospital building.

Council member Chris Clark cautioned the hospital to consider pedestrian circulation at the hospital. The hospital is already "kind of a pain" to get around, he said, and the north garage addition means there needs to be a good way for pedestrians to get where they need to be.

"Once you're actually on the campus its really hard to get from one end to another without running into a building or having to go through a building," Clark said.

Comments

Probablyhavetomovesomeday
Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:19 pm
Probablyhavetomovesomeday, Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Thank you to the 2 councilmen quoted who recognize what a nightmare Grant Road is. I literally had to reschedule a standing meeting 2 miles away because I could no longer get there in less than half an hour at certain times. I don't know what the solution is but adding more employees and customers to the mix is definitely not the answer.

Note to council: you could finance a whole new road with the fines you could collect from people turning right without stopping from Grant on to North Road (near the Y).


Elliot MD
Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm
Elliot MD, Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

I make rounds at El Camino Hospital in the morning. The traffic on Grant Road is terrible, but the Hospital is not the cause.
At 8-9AM the road to the Hospital is open, but the lanes leading to El Camino Real are packed. From 4-6PM I observe the opposite. People travel to jobs in Mountain View and cut off 280 to avoid the 85 North congestion.
I think the traffic concerns on Grant are legitimate, but blaming the hospital is a misdiagnosis.


A neighbor
Cuesta Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm
A neighbor , Cuesta Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I would like to see El Camino Hospital look into creating some satellite offices along El Camino or in downtown Mountain View as a way to solve their space problems rather than enlarging their present location.

As it is, El Camino Hospital is basically in the middle of a residential neighborhood that can not handle anymore traffic volume than it already has. Not only is Grant Road bad but most of these streets are residential and not meant to carry the volume of traffic that they have now. Before anything (including housing) is approved the City needs to look seriously at traffic patterns and figure out how to take commuter traffic off residential streets.


BAB
Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 6:13 pm
BAB, Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 6:13 pm

We live off of Grant Road, and we feel trapped a most weekdays between 7;30 AM and 6 PM. It has become a parking lot due to drivers bypassing HWY 85, El Camino Hospital, MV High School / Huff grade school / Bullis middle school traffic, as well as drivers on Cuesta trying to access HWY 237 via Grand Rd. Traffic is impossible during morning and evening commutes, as well as when local schools start and stop their school hours. Noon also is horrible due to students and teachers from MVHS rushing out to run errands and to eat lunch.

I most strongly suggest that El Camino Hospital and the City of Mountain View find other routes for drivers to access the El Camino complex. They must find new routes from Cuesta, Covington, and Miramonte roads.

I most strongly recommend that Mountain View and Los Altos cooperate to improve traffic conditions on Grant, Covington, Miramonte, and Springer roads. For starters, we should find a way to force Los Altos to cooperate to install traffic signals at the Cuesta/Springer intersection, as well as the Covington/Miramonte intersections.


Steve
another community
on Feb 12, 2015 at 7:28 pm
Steve, another community
on Feb 12, 2015 at 7:28 pm

This is actually a funny story! Only just now has the city council become aware that there is a traffic problem in Mountain View? Where have they been for the last decade?
To be fair, some of the council is newly elected, and didn't have a hand in the current nightmare. But that sword is double edged, and suggests that previous councils were 'deficient' (remove the word 'deficient', and insert the more-accurate-but-would-be-deleted-term of your choice here).


tracy
Cuesta Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 8:18 pm
tracy, Cuesta Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Have lived off of grant road for 15 years. I live one mile from the hospital and what used to be a five minute ride is now at the minimum a 15 minute commute. How we long for the old mountain view...


Jack C
Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm
Jack C, Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

Maybe it's time to look at the Cuesta 'reserve'. It is close to El Camino
Hospital, has its own road and is not doing anything for the people of
Mountain View.


Letspaveovereverything
Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm
Letspaveovereverything, Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm

That's great, Jack. Let's pave over everything. Even the peaceful areas that are "not doing anything." For sure that will help with traffic congestion.


also longing for the old MV
Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 11:11 pm
also longing for the old MV, Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 11:11 pm

@Elliot MD

I beg to differ. In the morning, drivers (presumably medical office staff, etc) traveling northbound in the left lane on Grant Road are backed up nearly to Covington Road as they wait to turn left onto South Drive.

The hospital definitely contributes to the traffic on Grant, along with: those traveling to/from Huff, MVHS, Blach, Bullis Charter, 237, 101, 85, etc as mentioned by others here. There's plenty of blame to go around. The question is what are we going to do about it? Improved bike lanes, free or park/ride shuttles, staggered work schedules, encourage carpooling, extend Stevens Creek Trail, adjust timing of traffic lights, etc are among the many possible solutions we need to examine.

For starters, I propose we (1) fix the damn left turn signal from Grant onto Bryant that causes drivers to stare at the red left turn arrow for what seems like ages despite no oncoming traffic, and (2) insist that the traffic engineers explain just what are those creepy white cameras attached to the traffic signals all the way up and down Grant Road. I'm told they are for monitoring traffic, and just how do they help?


UseMiramonte!
Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 12:16 am
UseMiramonte!, Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 12:16 am

Connect North Drive or South Drive or both to Miramonte Avenue so that the whole hospital complex isn't so dependent on busy Grant Road. Pull up Google maps and you will see that North and South Drive are very close to Miramonte Ave. South Drive seems to end at the St. Francis school parking lot but it looks like it could wind around it, then connect to Amalfi Way. It would help ambulances get to places much faster if they had easy access to Miramonte.


Jack C.
Waverly Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 11:13 am
Jack C., Waverly Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 11:13 am

The one-story buildings to the west of Hospital Drive should be replaced with a multistory parking structure. The present offices on Hospital Drive could be rebuilt on the Cuesta Annex ('reserve') and add in the Dialysis unit as well as other functions that require special facilities but are not necessarily connected to the Hospital. A special 'emergency vehicles only' lane could be laid out, for those limited occasions when needed.
We are faced with increasing needs for medical services as our population ages, so we will have to optimize use of every available bit of space.


annek85925
Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm
annek85925, Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Synchronizing the traffic lights would help considerably. Traffic turning left from El Camino onto Grant during rush hour invariably leaves several cars stuck in the middle of that busy intersection when the light changes. Very dangerous. Also, having a series of stop lights from El Camino, Bentley Square, Phyllis, Cuesta, North Drive, South Drive and Covington on down Grant that are NOT synced is a nightmare of stop and go traffic along a 1/4 mile distance. Ridiculous.
I don't mind the hospital traffic but the county ambulances with sirens blaring all the way from El Camino Real to South Drive at 5:00am and/or 2:30 am is extremely disruptive and disturbing to the people who live along Grant Road.


Laurel L.
another community
on Feb 13, 2015 at 4:49 pm
Laurel L., another community
on Feb 13, 2015 at 4:49 pm

As a Los Altos resident living further down Grant Rd. I echo everyone's concerns about the M-F commute traffic. The hospital IS in the middle of a residential area, and driving more traffic to these streets just seems unwise - and unfair to residents. Perhaps there's another location closer to roads designed to take this level of traffic that could be considered. And btw, some of the left turn traffic on South Drive, at least in the morning hours, is due to St. Francis High School. Access to the back parking lot is from South Drive.


Intelligent Sense
Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2015 at 5:51 pm
Intelligent Sense, Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Hospital traffic is a drop in the bucket compared to the commuters.

Red light cameras would help a lot. People are getting "stuck" in the intersections because they are jerks. They should not enter the intersection until it is clear on the other side. Have red light cameras enforce the rules. Problem solved.


UseMiramonte!
Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 9:21 pm
UseMiramonte!, Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 9:21 pm

I don't see bad driving that often on Grant Road, and I drive it at least twice a day. The "stuck" car situation happens occasionally at the Grant/Cuesta intersection but the majority of regular commuters know about this and don't enter that intersection until they see it moving on the other side. Most cars I see that dither and do weird maneuvers on Grant end up turning into the hospital. I assume those are drivers who are unfamiliar with the neighborhood and are struggling to find there way to a medical appointment.

Confirm what Laurel L. said. I see many cars with St. Francis School Lancers stickers lining up on Grant to make a left onto South Drive every morning and afternoon. This is another good reason to open up more access to this area from the Miramonte side.

Over the years, I have seen the city put down many of those car counter strips on Grant. They must have data from those studies that show traffic patterns and congestion. When the old farm turned into a new neighborhood of houses, there were concerns raised about increased traffic then too. This seems to be a problem that the city is aware of, but one they like to shove under the rug and ignore.


Also longing
Waverly Park
on Feb 14, 2015 at 8:13 am
Also longing, Waverly Park
on Feb 14, 2015 at 8:13 am

That is nuts that St Francis can be accessed from both sides of campus while hospital access is only from one mid-size and traffic-clogged street!

Downtown MV had (has?) an advisory commission, maybe we need an advisory group for Grant Road.

Too bad the hospital is not located on a much bigger parcel closer to a freeway.


Garrett
another community
on Feb 14, 2015 at 9:28 am
Garrett, another community
on Feb 14, 2015 at 9:28 am

Building a non medical administrative building for ECH campus on El Camino Real would be smart but trying to find a close enough site.

Shuttles from hospital to admin and back.

Build a limited access road through the annex, M to F, daytime hours only for shuttles/van pools/taxis and emergency vehicles. Weekends and nights the roa would be closed expect bikes and pedestrians

Here is an idea which might solve some traffic and parking problems. ECH invest in Moblie Medical Vehicles, an RV converted into a medical office for basic appointments. Works well at senior centers, retirement communities and senior moblie home parks.


Name hidden
Bailey Park

on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:57 am
Name hidden, Bailey Park

on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:57 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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