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Neighborhood Clinic expansion hits a bump in the road with a Santa Barbara Westside parking issue 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic has an expansion plan for the Westside clinic but parking issues have been a challenge.

A neighboring gas station business has been concerned about existing parking issues and has more with the new project proposal, at a location across from the current clinic.

The new clinic is planning to offer medical, dental and behavioral health care for, mainly, those on a low income from the proposed site at 615 Micheltorena Street.

Parking conflicts were brought at the Planning Commission hearing and debated but the project was approved. It was not a unanimous vote.

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics CEO Mahdi Ashrafian says, "it is going to drastically improve the health of this community."

Ashrafian said, "services we offer, medical, dental, behavioral health, that we currently don't have here  so that is going to help the patient population be he healthy and safe."

Ashrafian said, "in our new clinic we are going to have a dedicated drop off zone where families can drop off patients. Uber, Lyft can drop off the patients. We are going to have patient parking for all of our patients."

To work out the parking problems  the parking lot of a church nearby  will be used for employee parking and those workers will be shuttled back and forth to the clinic"

At the Planning Commission meeting, the attorney for the gas station raised the ongoing concerns.

Andrew Hazlett said, "the yellow drop off zone can not possibly handle the six cars the staff recognizes are going to have to be there at peak periods plus the shuttle.  And these people  are not going to have any place to park and more importantly  the numbers don't account for the Ubers the taxi's and the ride shares and  those parking studies are two and a half years old."

While this dispute awaits the appeal hearing March 15, the clinic says it would rather fund patient health and not attorneys.

Ashrafian said, "that money in my opinion really needs to go to patient care. That is what we are here to do.   We are a non profit we are a federal qualified health center."

The new clinic has been funded and will meet the growing needs in the area.   It will be capable of having more than 10,000 visits a year.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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