Monday, July 16 , 2018, 12:24 pm | Fair 72º


Local News

Despite Project Challenges, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital On Track for 2018 Completion

Construction slips 30 days behind schedule with emergence of challenges of asbestos, concrete recycling and how to protect a Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is looking to build a new patient pavilion wing as part of its $700 million rebuilding to meet state earthquake standards. Cottage Health System officials are attempting to save a Moreton Bay Fig Tree at the site Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is looking to build a new patient pavilion wing as part of its $700 million rebuilding to meet state earthquake standards. Cottage Health System officials are attempting to save a Moreton Bay Fig Tree at the site (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The rebuilding of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is about 30 days behind schedule, but should be complete by 2018.

The hospital is in the fifth of eight phases of a $700 million rebuilding of its multiblock facility at 400 W. Pueblo St. Phase 6 will consist of building a third patient care pavilion and a diagnostic and treatment pavilion.

“We are heading to the finish line, finally,” said Ron Biscaro, vice president of project management for the Cottage Health System.

Phase 5 consisted of demolition of the hospital’s central wing to make way a for new patient pavilion and emergency underground water storage tanks. Phase 5 is 95 percent complete and will be finished by November, Biscaro said.

Cottage Health System officials gave an annual update on the project at last week’s Planning Commission meeting. Cottage also has encountered some issues in its latest phase of rebuilding, including trees, concrete recycling and asbestos.

The nonprofit health-care provider is rebuilding the hospital to comply with a California law requiring that all hospitals be retrofitted or rebuilt to “withstand a 7.0 earthquake and still be functional,” Biscaro said. 

“Unless we have an 8.0 or 9 earthquake, I think these buildings will be fine,”​ he added.

Cottage also is attempting to save a landmark Moreton Bay Fig Tree on a corner of property, facing Pueblo Street. Although all of the buildings around it have been demolished, the tree still stands.

“We have taken great pains to make sure that it thrives,”​ Biscaro said.

Planning Commissioner Sheila Lodge wanted to know if the tree will have more space once the new buildings are completed.

“The tree has grown away from the building,” she said. “Is the footprint going to be the same for the new part, or will there be a little more space for the tree?”

Biscaro said the tree’s roots extend far underneath the site.

“Regardless of whatever we do, there will still be root issues for many, many years,”​ he said. “It’s a pretty healthy tree.”

To avoid possibly hitting the tree’s roots, Cottage is putting in a basement on the other side of the building.

“It’s costing us a lot more to protect it than for the tree itself, but we have great respect for it,”​ Biscaro said. 

Cottage has recycled about 93 percent of its concrete, but none of it has been salvaged locally.

“All of the concrete that has been recycled has gone to Santa Paula, in the Ventura County area,”​ Biscaro said. “We couldn’t find a recycling place here ... with the volume we had.”​

He said it has cost the hospital about a “half-million-dollar premium to make sure that we sent the concrete down and brought it back.”​

Cottage also encountered asbestos in the removal of the Phase 5 buildings. Many of the demolished structures were built in the 1960s, ’​70s and ’​80s. 

The asbestos removal cost about $1 million, said Biscaro, who added that the elimination process is “always more than expected.”​

Addison Thompson, chairman of the Planning Commission, praised hospital officials.

“It’s a huge, huge undertaking,” he noted. “To keep a hospital functioning while you are doing this, and not to mention the impact around the neighbors, ... a reconstruction project of this magnitude is amazing.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >