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Proposed hospital sparks community outrage

 A new hospital proposed in a busy part of San Francisco has residents from surrounding communities up in arms.

The California Pacific Medical Center wants to build a 15-story, 555-bed hospital at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard as part of a $2.5 billion project that would alter the purpose of the four other California Pacific Medical center campuses as well. 

At a Planning Commission meeting Thursday afternoon, about 100 residents of the Tenderloin and Cathedral Hill neighborhoods came to voice their opposition, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The residents said the new hospital could cause major congestion on Van Ness Avenue might not serve the needs of the many low-income people in the area.

The project would include closing the medical center's California campus in Presidio Heights, changing the Pacific campus in Pacific Heights into an outpatient-only facility and replacing St. Luke's Hospital in the Mission District with a much smaller facility.

Residents complained this restructuring will force many people to travel farther for health care.

Since the land is currently designated for residential use, the city would have to re-zone the area to allow the project to take place. According to the Bay Citizen, California Pacific Medical Center wants to modify the zoning in the area so that it won't have to build new homes as would be required to maintain the area's current three-to-one housing to commercial ratio.

Officials said the new hospital would provide a modern, seismically safe facility that could function in the worst disaster. Much of the project would focus on updating the other facilities to meet tougher earthquake standards.

The Planning Commission is not expected to make any decisions regarding zoning in the area for several months until an environmental impact report is completed.