Saint John's Health Center (File photo)

Saint John’s Health Center (File photo)

MID-CITY — Despite a loss of 215 parking spaces at Saint John’s Health Center since April, the hospital is close to fulfilling its parking obligations under an agreement with City Hall, officials said.

On March 31, the hospital lost its parking agreement with the Colorado Center (formerly known as the Yahoo! Center), which had been providing 450 parking spaces.

A new Entry Plaza, which opened this month after a seven-month delay, added an additional 83 spaces, bringing the total to 1,360. Before losing its lease at the Colorado Center, Saint John’s had 1,575 parking spaces.

Next, city planners will review a new parking study to make sure the hospital is meeting demand.

The Colorado Center parking agreement had allowed Saint John’s to avoid building a 438-space, $25-million parking garage promised in a 1998 contract. The contract gave Saint John’s permission to rebuild following the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

In the new required parking study, which must be performed 30 to 45 days after the plaza opens, Saint John’s needs to provide data about peak parking needs but also about pricing for employees and visitors. (Saint John’s claims the area is not open in its entirety and an adjacent lot now needs reconfiguring, however, there have already been two public events celebrating its completion.)

Neighbors have long complained that the cost of parking at Saint John’s facilities is too high and forces patrons and employees to park in the surrounding neighborhood. Parking costs $13 after 90 minutes, according to Saint John’s website. A day pass costs $35.

Gregg Heacock, of Mid-City Neighbors, said that parking was a problem even before the parking reduction in April.

“It’s like they’re saying, ‘let us get away with it until we’ve gotten away with it for so long that you don’t have to make us do it any more,’” he said.

Saint John’s has secured several surface lots to make up for part of the loss. Heacock called the surface lots “retro.”

“This is not a long-range plan,” he said. “They owe us parking and they always did owe us parking and the new people buying into it should know they owe us underground parking.”

Providence Health & Services is reportedly in negotiations to take over Saint John’s.

Heacock also called the high parking costs unfair to both the visitors and the neighbors.

“People do it all the time,” he said. “[People] in wheelchairs going up from 14th Street to the hospital.”

Numerous parking demand studies have been done for Saint John’s over the years.

A demand for 1,263 spaces was included in the 1998 agreement. A 2011 study showed a need for 1,183 spaces with a projected need of 1,300 by 2013.

Earlier this year, Saint John’s paid for its own parking study, which showed that the hospital had a demand of 1,160 spaces. The study “appears” to accurately reflect the hospital’s peak parking needs, city officials said.

To make up for parking losses, Saint John’s leased 125 new spaces at the Held structure at 20th Street and Arizona Avenue, and 85 spaces at St. Anne’s Church. They retained a lease for 85 spaces at the Colorado Center.

 

dave@smdp.com