A rendering of what Sutter's facility will look like at the corner of 20th and Valencia.

As construction nears completion at V20, the 18 unit condo at 20th and Valencia, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation plans to open a medical facility in the ground floor commercial space – if it’s approved by the Planning Commission.  Some Valencia Street neighbors, however,  are working to prevent that from happening or at least working to get it downsized.

The medical center would include various services, including physician’s offices, equipment for tests and lab work. It would also take up the full 7,100 square-foot corner space. Its large size requires conditional use approval from Planning because Valencia Street is zoned for 3,000 square-foot retail spaces.

Its large size also means that the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association has opted to oppose the project when it heads to the Planning Commission May 21. It’s also raised debate among members of the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association.

“It’s not going to be cohesive with a neighborhood that is famous for lots of retailers and restaurants, it’s this big behemoth medical center,” said Jefferson McCarley, a spokesperson for the Valencia merchants. “They want to be able to put this big gigantic thing that is above and beyond what the planning code allows, that code was put in for a reason.”

Jenifer Turnbull, a vice president of facility development for Sutter, says the medical facility will work to be a good neighbor and plans for its storefront facing Valencia Street to have a retail-like feel.

“I do think we will be good neighborhood partner, providing health services for everyone from kids to geriatric folks,” said Turnbull. “We’re working hard to make it a more active space, with glass windows, and weekend and after hours services. We also think bringing primary care is really a benefit to the neighborhood.”

Turnbull also said that Sutter chose the Mission because it’s one of the medically underserved neighborhoods listed in the Department of Public Health’s 2013 Health Care Services Master Plan.

McCarley says that Valencia Street isn’t right for a project that’s so big, but a group of merchants on the corridor would support Sutter’s arrival if it didn’t take up the entire corner.

“We welcome Sutter to the neighborhood, even to Valencia street,” said McCarley. “We would love it if they could take the second floor. Or allow retailers to contribute to the vibrancy of the street by taking a slightly smaller space behind the storefront space.”

McCarley says the medical facility could slow down foot traffic for shoppers traveling down Valencia.

Turnbull says that Sutter won’t feel like an office, that if it moves into the space the company could include a shop for its Institute of Health and Healing, which practices western medicine and eastern therapies and sells various nutritional and health supplements.

Lowering the project’s footprint also isn’t an option, according to Turnbull. She says Sutter hopes the facility can provide as many services in one location for patients as possible, which she says includes those on most insurance plans including Medicare and Medi-Cal.

“We like to aggregate services so patients can come to one place to get everything done,” said Turnbull, adding that they need a space as big as the one at 20th and Valencia to create that kind of convenience. “There’s not a lot of available space in this part of the city, not the kind of spaces we can provide this breadth of services.”

Because Sutter is a medical facility it doesn’t technically fall under the category of formula retail, which is limited on Valencia Street. But McCarley says the Planning Department should treat it as such. St. Luke’s Hospital on Cesar Chavez and Valencia is also a Sutter facility.

On Monday May 11, representatives from Sutter will present at a community meeting organized by the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association at 953 Valencia Street at 7 p.m.

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Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top of Bernal Hill.

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9 Comments

  1. They’ve got St Luke’s Hospital 6 blocks away, why do they need this? Are the mid-Valencia hipsters too lazy to go 6 blocks?

    1. You do understand the difference between a hospital and a medical center? No one goes to a hospital to get a check-up or other routine preventative care. A hospital and a medical center are generally focused on providing different types of medical care.

      Also, I highly doubt the medical center is going to cater to “hipsters” (if there are even any of those folks left on Valencia, they are probably the ones protesting the medical center because they would rather have some organic “locally-owned” BS uber-expensive brunch place–and the city needs another type of that establishment like we all need a hole in our heads).

      How many freaking over-priced boutiques and expensive little “farm-to-table” restaurants can you have on one small commercial strip? It is about time they actually put something there that will serve the whole community, like a medical center, rather than something else catering to the rich snobs and wealthy tourists.

      I am sick to death of people protesting things that people actually need (e.g. healthcare) or could afford just so they can protect their little yuppie monopolies. This city is full of over-priced crap for wealthy people to adorn themselves with or stuff their faces with, and it is promoted by city policy all under the guise of preserving the “authentic” and “locally-owned.”

  2. A facility that serves people on Medicare and Medical fits much better with the neighborhood I want to live in than the latest unaffordable high-end retail, no matter how unique. The kind of small local businesses I would most want to see on this corner can sadly never afford this space. Given that depressing fact, maybe this is the best option? People walked past a gas station to shop (and then trampled past a dangerously unregulated construction site) – they will walk past a health care facility. At least this plan provides something for everyone rather than $6 coffee and $500 gift items which many long-term Mission residents have no use for.

    1. Do we know if they will have doctors that accept Medi-Cal and Medicare? If so, it could be quite helpful to many in the area I bet.

      1. Sutter Health definitely accepts Medicare & Medical so I’m assuming they will continue to.

  3. I agree with Chris Brown’s comments. He’s right on the money. Right now there’s this big surge of jobs but it’s hardly going to be perennial. A hospital will help stanch any of the bleeding that will occur when the market goes down and restaurants close down, making a whole neighborhood look forlorn and lost. Hospitals have greater longevity than these businesses that set up shop in good faith but are subject to the vicissitudes of a fickle economy.

  4. I agree. They wanted to dump St. Luke’s and now this? Include the clinic in the St. Luke’s rebuild.

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