Santa Clara County officials are negotiating a deal to keep Planned Parenthood's only North County clinic here in Mountain View, preventing the facility from closing its doors amid major redevelopment north of the San Antonio Shopping Center. Though the exact location remains a secret, the goal is for Planned Parenthood to share clinic space with county health services at a nearby location.
The Planned Parenthood Mountain View Health Center, now located at 225 San Antonio Road, switched to a month-to-month lease agreement in May in anticipation of Greystar's planned redevelopment of the small shopping center it is located in.
Although there's some assurance that tenants like Planned Parenthood aren't on the verge of being kicked out in the immediate future, city and county officials are moving fast to find a new location, said Linda Williams, the former CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.
"The landlord has encouraged all the tenants to stay as long as they want, but I know everyone is probably wisely looking around at this point," Williams said.
The plan, according to Williams and Mountain View city staff, is for the county to ink a lease agreement for a nearby two-story facility that would house both Planned Parenthood and county health services. The address of the new location is not being released to the public during ongoing real estate negotiations between the property owner and the county.
Despite the difficulty that comes with displacement, Williams said the shared-space agreement could end up being a welcome opportunity for Planned Parenthood. Partnering with Santa Clara County means a much larger space than what Planned Parenthood could afford to occupy on its own, and the location being considered is close enough that patients who rely on the clinic shouldn't have much trouble adjusting.
"The farther away you move it the more patients never find their way to the new one," she said.
Planned Parenthood has been operating in Mountain View for 44 years, and provides a broad range of services beyond reproductive health, including primary care, to more than 8,000 patients each year. About 80 percent of the patients are Santa Clara County residents, and 2,131 people on the county-run Valley Health Plan are assigned to the Mountain View Planned Parenthood as their primary care provider. In a memo to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in February, Supervisor Joe Simitian wrote that assisting Planned Parenthood would be necessary in order to maintain county health services in the North County.
Several Mountain View residents attested to the importance of Planned Parenthood at the supervisors' Feb. 7 board meeting, calling it an important resource for lower-income families in the city -- particularly in the Castro neighborhood area. The clinic, which is the only Planned Parenthood location between Redwood City and San Jose, has been a reliable resource for decades and is well-recognized in the community.
Staff in the Mountain View city manager's office and the planning department have been working closely with Planned Parenthood and Simitian's office to ensure the clinic continues to operate here, according to Alex Andrade, the city's economic development manager. While the hot real estate market makes it tough for a nonprofit like Planned Parenthood to relocate -- an acre of land on El Camino Real can fetch between $15 million and $17 million -- he said the county is negotiating a lease agreement with a property owner.
"We're working closely with the supervisor's office, a real estate broker (and) the owner of the property to get closer to a potential lease," he said.
Planned Parenthood also has to conduct a parking study and meet intensive parking requirements imposed on medical facilities. Medical uses generally require one parking space for every 250 square feet, Andrade said, but there are bus, train and shuttle services in and around the proposed location that could permit some flexibility.
"City staff and the planning department need a better understanding of how many people are going to be receiving these services, where they're coming from and what transportation they use," Andrade said.
As of last month, the Greystar development for the area north of the San Antonio Shopping Center was still under review following the developer's formal application in February. The proposal for the 8.6-acre site includes 642 residential units and 16,600 square feet of commercial space, according to a city staff report.
Williams praised Simitian for his determination to make sure Planned Parenthood doesn't lose its home in Mountain View, as well as the "extremely supportive" city staff. County officials, up to and including County Executive Jeff Smith, have also been essential in the search for a new location, she said, adding that the outpouring of support is a result of the recognition that Planned Parenthood is an important player in the county's health care safety net, particularly for families living in the North County area.
"It's also an acknowledgment that perhaps the north end of the county doesn't have as many health care resources as others parts of the county, even though there's a high need here," she said. "We've been in Mountain View for 44 years -- that's a long time to become an integral part of the community."