Health clinic opening held up by parking issue

July 20, 2011 6:51:07 PM PDT
A parking problem could prevent Planned Parenthood from opening a women's health clinic in Redwood City. It's a dispute that involves the proposed clinic on El Camino Real, the nearby Enterprise Rent-A-Car service, and threats of protests.

Planned Parenthood wants to start a clinic in an empty office building on the 2800 block of El Camino, but Redwood City told the agency it needs more parking spaces.

"We're requiring 27 total and the site only has 18 spaces," said Redwood City spokesman Malcolm Smith.

Planned Parenthood says Enterprise across the street agreed to lease them the additional nine spaces and they drew up a contract. In February, the city approved a conditional permit, but that is not the end of this story.

"Since then, they've let us know that it's uncertain if that property owner will go ahead and provide these parking spaces," said Smith.

Planned Parenthood says Enterprise is now having second thoughts about the contract.

"We understand they have some questions about it, but as far as we know and we understand, it's a legally binding contract," said Lupe Rodriguez from Planned Parenthood.

Enterprise spokesperson Laura Bryant told ABC7, "The contract is not executable. It only has one of our two required signatures."

Bryant said only the local manager signed it. A higher executive's signature was also needed. Bryant did not directly address the threat of protests and said instead, she didn't know why there weren't two signatures.

Abortion opponent Ross Foti thinks he knows why.

"I don't think they really knew about the graphic science or anything like that. They didn't realize that they would be protested too," said Foti.

Foti is a local activist who opposes abortions. He says Enterprise was warned there would be protests if the contract went through.

"They'll lose their tranquility, their peace and the business will lose business period," said Foti.

Now, there's a legal challenge to the clinic's permit from a lawyer in Orange County who represents a group opposed to the clinic. They're also warning the city of "significant and continuous" protests.

"Folks from outside this community are objecting to services being provided here for people here who need that care," said Rodriguez.

Wednesday evening, Enterprise corporate headquarters emailed ABC7 saying they now know why their local office never finalized the contract and the reason why there was only one name. They say Planned Parenthood revised the original contract, which was approved by the planning commission in May to extend the lease on the parking spaces beyond Enterprise's own lease with its landlord. And that's why they couldn't do it. But Planned Parenthood says they never revised anything, the contract was the same as it always was.


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