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An Open Letter to Mission Hospital

 The letter is addressed to Michael Beck, vice president of operations for Mission Hospital Laguna Beach
 
A few months ago I attended a meeting at Mission Hospital at which you presented Mission Hospital’s plan for the next few years.  During your thoughtful and interesting presentation, you indicated that Mission Hospital was aware of the need for a strong local presence and good community relations. In response to a question, you agreed that a good relationship with Mission Hospital’s neighbors should be an important consideration in your future plans.
 
Mission Hospital’s actions with respect to the acquisition of the Domanskis properties, and the manner in which the hospital acted was contrary to the hospital’s goals stated above.  The importance of open space is recognized as one of Laguna Beach’s guiding principles as adopted in our general plan and has been consistently supported by residents. For more than 35 years, every Laguna Beach City Council has labored to preserve Laguna’s undeveloped open space. Mission Hospital’s actions showed a blatant disregard for the residents of Laguna Beach, South Laguna and your immediate neighbors.
After two years of negotiations, the Laguna Canyon Foundation, the Coastal Conservancy and Domanskis reached an agreement that would have allowed the property to be acquired by Laguna Beach to be preserved as open space.  At the Junec City Council meeting the purchase by the city was approved.  The purchase was supported by Laguna Greenbelt, Laguna Canyon Conservancy, Orange County Community Resources, Village Laguna, members of the South Laguna Civic Association, and others because the property represents an attractive hillside and globally-significant habitat that should be protected.
 
While I strongly support free enterprise and open competition, a not-for-profit, community-serving facility must consider additional factors when contemplating actions that affect its neighbors and community. Mission Hospital’s acquisition of the Domanskis properties is viewed by many Laguna Beach residents as a breach of public trust and as an unscrupulous attempt to undermine an open space purchase by our city.
Mission Hospital must take appropriate steps to correct this problem and to repair its image as our Laguna Beach hospital.  Mission Hospital will place community patronage and financial support in jeopardy unless it works with the city and its neighbors now and in the future.
 
Richard L. Picheny, Laguna Beach

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