Planned Parenthood pulls out of Mooney location

Developer of the proposed clinic withdraws Planned Parenthood application amid concerns about controversy on Mooney Blvd.

VISALIA – Planned Parenthood in Visalia will not relocate its healthcare center to Mooney Boulevard after the clinic and developer agreed to pull out of the project under appeal with city council. 

According to the Visalia City Council’s March 7 agenda, the applicant proposing the Planned Parenthood clinic, The Orosco Group, requested an “indefinite continuance” on Friday afternoon before the agenda was posted. Patrick Orosco, co-partner of The Orosco Group, said his office will now seek a new tenant for the building and Planned Parenthood will seek a new location in a different part of town.

“We understand that the potential for disruption to day-to-day commerce on Mooney Boulevard associated with the controversy differentiated that location from other potential locations as one that came with a greater cost to the city than other possible solutions,” Orosco said. “After taking a step back to consider how much we have benefitted from the City’s careful stewardship of Mooney Boulevard as the epicenter of Tulare County commerce, we decided to help restore decorum vs. press the issue further.”

He went on to say both his office and the clinic believe the services offered by Planned Parenthood in Visalia are necessary as evidenced by their 20 years in the community without any issues prior to discussing a move to this specific location. He said neither his office nor neighboring Aspen Dental had any any concerns over deficient parking or impacts of protests to their operation or those of their immediate neighbors.

“I don’t think there is a widespread opinion that Planned Parenthood, which has been there well over a decade providing much needed healthcare services, should be disallowed to operate within the city nor can the city do it, since they are already there,” Orosco said. “Even though we don’t like the outcome, it was the right thing to do for our relationship with the city and that of Planned Parenthood’s with the city.”

The proposed clinic, located at 3221 S. Mooney Blvd., was approved by the Visalia Planning Commission on a 4-0 vote at its Dec. 13 meeting but was appealed by local developer Dave Paynter, owner of Paynter Realty & Investments. Paynter, who leases nearby spaces to retailers Bed Bath & Beyond and Marshalls, submitted a letter to the Planning Commission appealing their decision citing parking and protests as his primary concerns. 

“The medical clinic proposed is Planned Parenthood,” Paynter wrote. “Our concern is that the typical demonstrations which occur outside of Planned Parenthood will also be significantly harmful to both Marshalls and Bed Bath & Beyond as well as to the current and future businesses located at the Sequoia Mall.”

Planned Parenthood has been a source of controversy in communities across the country over its offering of abortion services, which can include in-clinic abortions or the abortion pill, as well as referrals to abortion clinics and follow up appointments. Planned Parenthood provided services to an estimated 2.4 million people in 31 states in 2020. The organization also advocated for Immigrant Rights, Defund the Police, Get Out the Count and Bans Off My Body campaigns nationwide. There have not been any protests at Planned Parenthood since it opened in Visalia on the College of the Sequoias campus in 2002 and eventually moved to its current location on Stevenson Street. 

Planned Parenthood clinic on Stevenson Street in Visalia which provides abortion referrals, birth control, women’s reproductive health, HIV services, LGBTQ services, as well as testing, treatment and vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases, according to The organization offers low or no cost services depending on one’s ability to pay and help enroll patients into services to assist low-income residents.

“The user is a leading provider of high-quality healthcare services, including pediatric and adult primary care services, to thousands of women, men, and children throughout California every year, by investing in communities, expanding healthcare to all,” the applicant’s operational statement reads.

The statement said the clinic would take up just over 6,500 square feet of the 10,200 square foot building with hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The clinic is expected to have up to 10 full-time employees and see as many as 40 patients per day.

The letter was emailed to commissioners on Dec. 10, prior to the Dec. 13 public hearing, but the name of clinic had no bearing on conditional use permit because it only considered whether or not a medical clinic was in compliance with site zoning and municipal code. The public hearing only lasted six minutes and Matt Nohr, director of development for the Orosco Group, was the only one who spoke. The Planning Commission asked a few questions about parking before unanimously approving the permit on a 4-0 vote, as commissioner Chris Gomes was absent. The commission found “That the proposed project will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare, or materially injurious to properties or improvements in the vicinity.”

Only standard conditions were imposed on the project, such as building to Site Plan specifications, a minimum number of parking spaces, and signage and landscaping requirements.

“To suggest that there is too little parking in Sequoia Mall is complete hogwash.  Adverse impacts of protests are speculative and hypothetical.  If anything, the protests cited by the appeal were invited by the appeal,” Orosco said in a statement. “This fear tactic is common to NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard] politics and something we’ve encountered several times before. But not in Visalia.”

The appeal was scheduled for a public hearing at the Visalia City Council’s Jan. 18 meeting but was continued because only three of the five councilmembers were in attendance. The hearing was rescheduled to the council’s Feb. 7 until it was pushed to March 7 by The Orosco Group, which has now requested an indefinite continuance and pulled out of the project.

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