The Santa Barbara City Council and American Indian Health & Services are set to approve a specific plan for a $16.2 million community health clinic at 3237 State St.
The Santa Barbara City Council and American Indian Health & Services are set to approve a specific plan for a $16.2 million community health clinic at 3237 State St. (Courtesy RRM Design)

After decades of underutilization, the U.S. Army Reserve site on the corner of State Street and Las Positas Road in Santa Barbara is headed for a $16.2 million transformation.

The Santa Barbara City Council and the American Indian Health & Services are set to approve a specific plan for a community health clinic at the site at 3237 State St.

The center would serve “Native Americans, Native Alaskans and non-native medically underserved populations.”

“AIHS serves a critical and growing need for health care services, using a patient-centered medical home model,” said Beth Collins, an attorney with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, in a letter to the City Council. “A modern health care facility at a central location in the city has a broad public benefit to our entire community.”

The proposed specific plan would allow medical offices and require that any future residential housing be sold or rented to very low, low and moderate-income households.

In order to approve the specific plan, the city must determine that the project is a “community benefit.”

American Indian Health & Services approached the city a year ago about a specific plan, and the city had many questions that the organization hopes to answer at Tuesday’s meeting. The council wanted to know more about the design and the project’s funding. 

Site plan for proposed $16.2 million community health clinic at 3237 State St.

Site plan for proposed $16.2 million community health clinic at 3237 State St. (Courtesy RRM Design)

The Planning Commission showed support for the plan in November. 

The U.S. Department of Defense designated the property as excess property and transferred it to the federal Indian Health Service. The IHS then sold the property to American Indian Health & Services.

The site has not been used as an armory since 2009. 

The conceptual plan calls for an addition of 4,000 square feet to have enough room for the dentists and doctors. The plans also call for a new bus stop and overhead on State Street and new landscaping

The existing chain link and barbed wire would be removed and native plants that reflect the Native American cultural heritage would be put planted. 

The long-unused U.S. Army Reserve armory building  at 3237 State St. in Santa Barbara.

The long-unused U.S. Army Reserve armory building at 3237 State St. in Santa Barbara would be replaced by a $16.2 million community health clinic. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

American Indian & Health Services provides medical, dental, pediatric and behavioral health services to residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The clinic was founded in 1994, and is one of 41 similar clinics across the United States. 

In 2018, the organization served 7,000 individual patients who made a total of 34,000 visits. About 80% of the patients are at 200% of the federal poverty guideline or below.

In 2018, the latest year that data was provided, American Indians and Alaska natives made up about 10% of the patients. About 7% percent of patients were uninsured, 5% were homeless and 30% were Spanish-speaking only.

About 18% of daily patient visits are scheduled the same day to avoid emergency room visits. 

Plans call for a healing garden and a new pedestrian entrance on State Street. There’s already an unused curb cut on State Street that would be used for primary vehicular access, with its own parking lot, separate from the current parking in MacKenzie Park.

“This project is important to the future character and vitality of the State and Las Positas area,” said Councilman Eric Friedman. “I appreciate the additional information provided as to the design and scope of the proposal as well details on financial viability. 

“The decision to go through the specific plan process with a General Plan amendment will provide the public with more information about the future use of the property as a medical clinic. We are fortunate to have a process underway that will transform this long-vacant property into a community benefit which is also compatible with neighboring park uses.”

The City Council meeting begins at 2 p.m.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.