Planned VA Clinic in Ventura Moves Ahead After City Council Rejects Challenge to Project

The site of the former Ventura County Star building on Ralston St. in Ventura will become Ventura County’s new Veterans Affairs clinic. Photo Credit: Cheri Carlson of the VC Star.

The Ventura City Council Monday night rejected an appeal of the city Planning Commission’s approval of a planned 50,000-square-foot Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic.

The project can now move forward. It will replace a much smaller VA clinic in Oxnard.

“I think we need to take care of (Ventura County’s) 40,000 veterans,” said Ventura Councilman Joe Schroeder. “I think they’ve waited way too long.

“I’m very much behind this project,” he said. “And I hope others are too.” 

He got his wish.

The council voted unanimously, 7-0, to deny the appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval in November of the planned U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinic.

The appeal was filed by Pasadena attorney Mitchell Tsai on behalf of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, a labor union representing more than 50,000 carpenters in six states, including Southern California.

The appeal cited environmental review concerns, arguing that the project’s noise, air quality and other impacts were not adequately analyzed or disclosed.

The council disagreed.

It adopted a resolution upholding the Planning Commission’s finding that the project’s initial environmental study appropriately discussed and mitigated the negative environmental impacts.

It then adopted a second resolution upholding the Planning Commission’s approval of the project.

A third resolution was also adopted by the council, urging the project’s contractor to use local union workers when feasible. That came after Tsai said the city should consider requiring local labor for the project such as members of the carpenters union.

During public comments, a few members of the union also urged that local labor be used.

‘Limited Access to Medical Needs’

The new one-story clinic is planned for an eight-acre site at 5250 Ralston St., the former home of the Ventura County Star, now located in Camarillo.

The clinic will provide an array of services including medical exams, dental procedures, physical therapy and counseling.

It will be run by the VA, as opposed to a contracted company such as the one which runs the Oxnard VA clinic.

Joseph Richardson, one of the founders of the Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County, said during public comments that the new clinic will mean that local veterans will no longer have to travel to Los Angeles to get medical care at the two VA nursing homes there.

“We have until recently had limited access to medical needs,” he said. “This clinic should have been in service for at least two years now. But it has been blocked by silly legal actions.

“I am asking that the City Council … support all measures needed to see that this project move forward without any more delays,” he said.

With the council’s denial of the appeal, the project can now move forward in obtaining the necessary permits to demolish the existing building at the Ralston Street site, begin grading and then constructing the new clinic, said city spokeswoman Heather Sumagaysay.

William Valentine, an executive with the developer, the Molasky Group of Companies, speaking on behalf of the property owner, Ventura VA, LLC, told the council the project is expected to be completed in April 2022.

The VA will pay an annual lease of $3.1 million along with a lump sum payment of $9.7 million to develop the new space, according to the office of Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village.

Source: VC Star article from January 14, 2021