Kaiser planning its largest Santa Cruz County campus in Live Oak: Here’s what you need to know

Kaiser planning its largest Santa Cruz County campus in Live Oak: Here’s what you need to know


The planning phase of Kaiser Permanente’s Live Oak medical office project has flown relatively under the radar since it was publicly announced in 2018.

But the project 一 which will be Kaiser’s largest Santa Cruz County campus 一 is now inching closer to reality.

If plans are approved, the site at 5490 Soquel Avenue is expected to become a four-story, 160,000-square-foot medical facility spanning 4.98 acres. Construction could begin as early as 2022.

Currently, the project site is home to a storage lot and adjacent to ABC Supply Co., along the Highway 1 frontage road midway between the Soquel and 41st Avenue exits.

The proposed Kaiser Permanente medical campus is being built by San Diego-based Pacific Medical Buildings.

“As our membership in Santa Cruz County continues to grow, we are exploring possibilities for expanding access to our high-quality, integrated care,” Kaiser Permanente spokesperson Karl Sonkin said.

The project’s environmental impact report (EIR) with the county was proposed in June and entered a 60-day public comment period, which ended on Aug. 9. The EIR will now be modified, taking those public comments under consideration, and resubmitted for review with the Santa Cruz Planning Commission and County Board of Supervisors.

What will the site look like?

Kaiser has been rapidly expanding its Santa Cruz County footprint since 2017. The Oakland-based health care company recently opened its Watsonville Mental Health & Wellness Center and expanded its Scotts Valley offices in June.

As then-supervisor John Leopold said of Kaiser when the project was unveiled in 2018: “Everybody knew when they came and opened, they were going to look for a bigger location.”

“With a project of this size and importance to Santa Cruz County we have conducted many technical environmental studies, and the county is in the process of completing the environmental impact report,” PMB Senior Vice President of Development Ben Rosenfeld said in an email.

Rosenfeld said if the review process is successful, the project could secure entitlement early next year and begin construction by late 2022 or early 2023.

No estimated costs are available at this time. The proposed medical site is expected to house several services including urgent care clinics, outpatient surgery, primary care, and laboratory and imaging facilities. The site is described as an outpatient facility, not a hospital; however, 24-hour urgent care will be accessible.

In addition, the campus will include a four-story parking garage with an estimated 720 parking spots, including 40 EV-charging stations and 122 bike spots. By comparison, the largest parking garage in downtown Santa Cruz, at River and Front streets, has 477 spots.

According to the PMB’s Rosenfeld, a four-year traffic study conducted by Kimley-Horn concluded that the project will eliminate about 20,000 miles of vehicular traffic due to rerouted health care trips.

He said the medical site is expected to contribute to approximately 700 construction jobs; those jobs are expected to remain local. Once completed, the medical facility will contribute to more than 300 medical jobs, Rosenfeld added.

“The project will use all-union labor for this project, and local union contractors will be used as well,” he said. “We believe the project will provide a significant positive economic impact and increase much-needed medical services to the community.”

Revamped traffic patterns and sidewalks

The project’s scope includes renovations to the sidewalks along Soquel Avenue including ADA accessibility and a three-quarter-mile bike lane adjacent to Soquel Avenue between Paul Minnie Avenue and Mattison Lane.

The project has also proposed several ride-share, transport and bike-share programs for both employees and members to help reduce traffic congestion. Additionally, improved and renovated stormwater and sewer lines will be installed upon the project’s completion, according to PMB.

“One issue that is apparent and important to the community involves traffic. A four-year traffic study has been completed and determined that the trips created by the project are largely not new trips on the network … and this will eliminate many trips that otherwise will continue to go out of county for medical services,” Rosenfeld said.

A screenshot from the proposed 5940 Soquel Avenue Kaiser Permanente medical building project EIR.

A screenshot from the proposed 5940 Soquel Ave. Kaiser Permanente medical building project EIR highlights the proposed building site. The proposed medical campus will include a four-story, 160-square-foot medical facility and an adjacent four-story parking garage.


What happens next?

The next steps for the project will be the EIR review and public hearings with both the planning commission and the County Board of Supervisors. Santa Cruz Principal Planner Stephanie Hansen said she expects the review process to conclude sometime in the fall.

First District Supervisor Manu Koenig said he plans to hold a community meeting in late September or early October to discuss the project. The final EIR isn’t expected to be up for board review until December.

ABC Supply, the nearby construction supply company, is keeping an eye on the project.

“We’re aware of it and it doesn’t affect our business. We’re not in the medical business,” ABC branch manager David Foreman said.

PMB has completed numerous projects throughout the state and Bay Aream including a $168 million, 250,000-square-foot facility in San Francisco for Sutter Health.

For more information about the project, visit the PMB project site.

Have comments about this project? Please send them to us at [email protected].


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