San Carlos to talk medical center’s bottom line

Number-crunchers on both sides of the debate over the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s controversial hospital plan will go head-to-head tonight as leaders determine whether the plan makes financial sense for the city.

San Carlos’ Economic Development Advisory Commission gets its first crack tonight at the foundation’s proposal to build a new hospital and medical offices at 301 Industrial Road. PAMF, a nonprofit organization, would be exempt from paying the approximately $30,000 per year in property taxes that a commercial business would pay for ownership of the site.

At the center of tonight’s debate will be a development agreement between PAMF and city officials in which the medical foundation would pay San Carlos $91 million over 50 years.

“In 2005, PAMF made $79 million in revenues in excess of expenses,” said resident Sol Kutner, a vocal critic of the hospital project. “The city should get a minimum of $100 million over 40 years — [the city is] so desperate for revenue, they’re selling out.”

In addition to the development agreement, the economic commission will study how the hospital could affect surrounding businesses, especially in light of the fact that city leaders are pushing hard for an economic resurgence in the area immediately surrounding the PAMF site, according to EDAC commissionerScot Marsters.

“We’ve never looked at a project like this before, so what will happen is anybody’s guess,” Marsters said.

PAMF proposes building a 97-bed hospital and medical center in 272,000 square feet of building space on Industrial Road near Holly Street. Although PAMF’s plan originally called for 110 beds and 339,500 square feet, PAMF scaled those back, in part to allay gridlock fears.

Locals were slated to examine the plan’s traffic impact during a meeting of the city’s Transportation and Circulation Commission on Tuesday. That meeting was canceled when three of the commission’s seven members were absent and the fourth had a last-minute family emergency, making it impossible to reach a voting quorum.

The traffic meeting will be rescheduled, according to transportation commissioner Paul Spagnoli. San Carlos’ Planning Commission and City Council are scheduled to vote on PAMF’s hospital plans this fall.

The EDAC meets tonight at 7 p.m. at Hiller Aviation Museum, 601 Skyway Road, San Carlos.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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