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Hospital gets permit for parking lot MRI, chiller

Mission Hospital Laguna Beach has another three years to come up with a permanent home for diagnostic equipment now housed in a temporary trailer parked in a lot on hospital property.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved at its Oct. 24 meeting a request by the hospital for a temporary use permit to continue the use of MRI equipment and a chiller adjacent to the trailer. Noise from equipment will continue to be buffered by two concrete-block walls in the parking lot between the hospital and an office building on the 11.8-acre campus in South Laguna.

Hospital neighbors had been critical in the past about the noise generated by the temporary equipment, but none was reported to the commission.

“If there was a problem, neighbors would have been here in droves,” Commissioner Norm Grossman said.


Commissioner Anne Johnson said she had heard from neighbors that they were satisfied with the way the hospital is working with them.

Hospital administrators indicated they are in the process of developing plans to install state-of-the-art MRI equipment and construct necessary modifications to the hospital to house the equipment for permanent use. Construction of a central plant to provide cooled air to operating rooms year-round is also planned.

“We were assured that the hospital has plans, which hospital officials promised would be provided within the next year,” Grossman said.

Meantime the temporary trailer will be used to conduct MRIs by which a patient’s internal structures, especially soft tissue, can be evaluated without radiation. The equipment is used primarily in the daytime, and occasionally in the evening in an emergency, city staff reported.


The temporary chiller will cool air in the operating rooms until the long-awaited permanent plant is constructed.

Temporary structures are permitted in the zone in conjunction with construction, and the proposed use of temporary facilities designed for public use exempts the equipment from provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act. A coastal development permit is required, and the city’s determination is not appealable to the California Coastal Commission, staff reported.

Conditions of the new permit are similar to the temporary use permit approved in 2010 and due to expire Jan. 13, 2013.

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