SANTA CRUZ – Santa Cruz Community Health and Dientes, a community dental care provider, have been approved to receive two separate loans of $ 1.5 million by the State Department of the Treasury. These funds will be used to build medical and dental practices in Live Oak, in conjunction with MidPen Housing, a nonprofit developer.
“These loans are essential because they target small rural health facilities that are struggling to get the funding they need,” State Treasurer Fiona Ma said in a statement.
The project, the development of which is planned 1500 Capitola Road, will also include 57 social housing units. The property, which is currently owned by the Santa Cruz County Redevelopment Successor Agency, is awaiting sale to MidPen, which specializes in building affordable housing.
Dientes was authorized to use the loan from the public treasury to build a 5,600 square foot dental clinic. This facility will be fitted with 11 chairs and is part of a larger “health campus” vision for the property, Sheree Storm, development manager at Dientes, told Sentinel.
“This will allow patients to have more integrated care between Santa Cruz Community Health and Dientes Community Dental, but also the need in our community to access affordable care is great,” Storm said. “Dientes primarily serves those who are on Medi Cal or who do not have health insurance.”
The construction of this dental facility would cost $ 8.6 million and the Santa Cruz Community Health Centers Medical Center, $ 19.6 million. Santa Cruz Community Health plans to build a 20,000 square foot two story medical facility with services such as behavioral health and pediatric care.
As the Sentinel reported in December, the site to be developed is contaminated with tetrachlorethylene, or PCE, a dry cleaning solvent. High levels of pollutant were found in soil gas and groundwater.
The site’s developer, presumably MidPen, has made plans install a sanitation system that decreases pollution levels, as required by the California State Water Resources Control Board. Without such a system, future occupants could be exposed to PCE through vapor inhalation.
This sanitation system, when used correctly, reduces the risk to human health, but don’t clean it, according to Jim Wells, geologist at L. Everett & Associates, and expert in soil gas contamination.
Some scientists and advocates have expressed concern that capping pollution does not replace cleanup. Yet to proceed with construction, MidPen is required to install such a system, not remove the underlying contamination, according to the water board.
The source of the pollution, according to the water board, is likely an adjacent former dry-cleaning company that operated in the 1960s to 1980s. It is currently unknown how far this contamination of soil and groundwater extends, as an environmental investigation is underway. No timeline has been set for when a cleanup will take place.
In an area where a housing crisis means a tight rental market and growing homelessness, county communications director Jason Hoppin said the mixed-use project is crucial.
“Locating community dental and medical services in an area like this would bring vital benefits to the community,” Hoppin said. “In addition, housing for low income people is desperately needed throughout Santa Cruz County and this project is virtually unprecedented in providing 100% affordable units.
This means that all future tenants should have qualifying income to rent accommodation.
Some local neighbors have expressed concern, questioning the extent of pollution in the area in general and when it could be cleaned up. Capitola Road Neighbors, a local neighborhood organization, wrote to the supervisory board in December:
“At first, although supporting the final plan that was created for the plot, we were quite surprised that the information on the chemical contamination at the site, the extensive testing, the plans to address the health impact issue. , as well as a change in the sale price of the Redevelopment plot, has been placed on the Consent Agenda! Especially since the public has shown constant interest in this project. This new situation is serious.
In an email, MidPen Housing told Sentinel that the start of construction of the housing site at Capitola Road is dependent on securing funding.
“The start of construction depends on the raising of all capital funding and MidPen is always working hard to submit competitive funding requests,” wrote Joanna Carman, director of housing development at MidPen.
Construction of the health campus is expected to begin this spring, and at the earliest, crews could begin construction of the housing units in November.