Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
A large crowd turned out for the appeal of the Planned Parenthood permit application in South City Wednesday.
A new Planned Parenthood will open in downtown South San Francisco after the City Council voted 3-2 to deny an appeal and move forward with the application and use permit after a heated meeting Wednesday night.
A large crowd attended the meeting to speak against and for the new clinic at 435 Grand Ave.
There were more than 50 speakers cards handed in for public comment. A good number of attendees stood just outside the meeting, as there wasn’t an empty seat in the room.
Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto voted to uphold the appeal since she said her vision for Grand Avenue doesn’t include medical clinics or similar facilities even though she said she supports Planned Parenthood. Mayor Pedro Gonzalez voted to uphold the appeal, stating similar views as Matsumoto, in addition to the clinic’s proximity to a church.
“If we withhold the appeal we remove the possibility of health services,” said Councilman Mark Addiego. “I know, no matter how conflicted, I have to vote on the land use issue.”
Planned Parenthood supporters held pink “I stand with Planned Parenthood” signs, while those against held green “NO to Planned Parenthood, YES to the appeal” signs.
The South San Francisco Planning Commission approved Planned Parenthood’s application in May to open downtown, but a group called Respect Life South San Francisco filed an appeal against the approval. The appeal, made on May 17 by Gregory Weiler, the attorney representing Rosa Gomez, Rolando Delgadillo, Vera Priego, Teresita Valido and Respect Life South San Francisco, said that adding Planned Parenthood violates the California Environmental Quality Act, would cause parking problems, violates zoning and would cause constant pro-life protests on location.
The Planning Commission had determined the project was categorically exempt under CEQA.Weiler said CEQA exemptions should only apply if there’s no extraordinary circumstances.
“Staff has done you a disservice in misstating the law,” he said. “There are physical impacts from this. The shortcut should not be utilized in any kind of use.”
Guadalupe Rodriguez, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood, said the company chose South San Francisco because of the high rate of uninsured.
“There are no legal or factual reasons to deny us this permit,” Rodriguez said. “We are here to meet the need for services in South San Francisco.”
Some came out in support of upholding the appeal.
Resident Sandra Dillard asked the council to “please ... not partner with this evil against humanity” during public comment.
Others brought up concerns about decreasing property values. Representatives from the opposing group said that there are more than 2,000 signatures for a petition against the Planned Parenthood.
City Council candidate Colin Post spoke against the Planned Parenthood being installed, noting his opposition to the morning after pill.
Others spoke out to support Planned Parenthood.City Council candidate Kate McKay spoke at the meeting, saying she could not imagine keeping affordable health care away from women.
San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine said at the meeting it was clear that this is a land use issue and said he supports Planned Parenthood’s services.The new three-story 7,846-square-foot clinic will not provide surgical abortion but will issue emergency contraceptives, contraceptives and provide sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, Rodriguez said previously. Planned Parenthood does not plan to offer chemical abortion, or RU-486, but it could be added without returning to the city for zoning approval, Rodriguez said previously.
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