Hospital Construction near Stone Lakes Refuge Stopped

By Nancy Hughett, ECOS Board Member | July 2021

A coalition of environmental and community groups applying pressure on Elk Grove decision-makers was instrumental in stopping the construction of a 13-story hospital with helipad next to a sensitive habitat area. While California Northstate University (CNU) previously proposed building the hospital at the edge of the Stone Lakes National Refuge, it recently announced its relocation to the Sleep Train Arena in North Natomas (June 16, 2021).

The coalition, including ECOS’ Habitat 2020, the Audubon Society, Sierra Club and the Friends of Stone Lakes, met with Elk Grove Planning Commissioners. Coalition members expressed concerns about noise, light pollution and construction activity that would harm refuge wildlife such as Swainson’s Hawks, Sandhill Cranes and Burrowing Owls, particularly during roosting periods. In addition, helicopter flights and the massive hospital building itself would pose a danger for bird strikes; helicopter-bird strikes could also lead to loss of human life. The Stone Lakes Refuge sits within the Pacific Flyway, a major North American migration route for birds.

The environmental coalition, along with neighbors, also argued that placing a level 2 trauma center hospital in a 200-year flood plain despite existing city prohibitions would be a very bad idea. (Additionally, flooding could increase due to climate-induced sea level rise and possible atmospheric river events.) This issue proved to be a major factor in Elk Grove Planning Commissioners’ 5-0 recommendation to deny the project. The project’s proponents subsequently elected to seek other sites for their hospital.

An incidental wetlands and habitat area has developed at the Sleep Train Arena site in the excavated area for a failed baseball stadium; the pond is surrounded by mature trees and has become a resource for wildlife, including many bird species. ECOS’ Habitat 2020 Committee is drafting a letter to support its protection.

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South Airport Industrial annexation proposal in North Natomas: ECOS Comments

On July 15, 2021, ECOS, along with Habitat 2020, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk and the Sierra Club Sacramento Group sent a letter regarding the South Airport Industrial annexation proposal in North Natomas.

Below is an excerpt from our letter.

We urge you to delay consideration of the proposed LAFCo MOU until you have an approved Memorandum of Understanding with the wildlife agencies for the process you will follow to comply with the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) while considering annexation of 450 acres outside your permit area. The NBHCP is a contract between the City and state and federal wildlife agencies that sets the terms of its permits to develop in Natomas. The purpose of the Plan is to preserve the populations of threatened wildlife in the Basin while allowing some City and Sutter County development. This contract states that “Because the effectiveness of the NBHCP’s Operating Program is based upon CITY limiting total development to 8,050 acres within the City’s permit area . . . , approval by either CITY or SUTTER of future urban development outside of their respective Permit Areas would constitute a significant departure from the Plan’s Operating Conservation Program.”

Click here to read the letter in full.


Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

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Site of Sleep Train Arena to become new home to California Northstate University teaching hospital

By Matthew Nuttle | June 16, 2021 | ABC10

The old home of the Sacramento Kings, formerly the Sleep Train Arena, will soon be the site of the California Northstate University (CNU) medical school and teaching hospital.

The announcement of the development was made during a press conference featuring Kings team owner Vivek Ranadivé and Sacramento city leaders. The Kings organization donated the arena and 35 acres of land on which it sits in North Natomas for development of phase one of the project that includes the medical school and a state-of-the-art teaching hospital.

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/sacramento/sleep-train-arena-california-northstate-hospital/103-ed198231-79dd-41e4-ae2d-09d94867c20e

Click here to read the article in full.


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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