More than five years ago, the city approved plans to build a hospital in an empty field on Temecula Parkway at Margarita Road.
That field sits empty today.
Since it submitted its plans to Temecula in June, 2004, the company planning to build the facility was sued for it and lost, got numerous citations from the California Department of Public Health for breaking codes at the hospitals it runs in Murrieta and Wildomar, lost a lawsuit over its Temecula plans and missed a last-chance deadline to start building in October.
Its plans scrapped, Southwest Healthcare Systems filed plans for a whole new hospital in June.
The new plans are similar to the old plans in many ways, but new plans include a five-story, 140-bed facility. The last plan included six stories and accommodated 170 beds, records show.
The city's planning commission approved it Wednesday.
Doubts and fears linger
Some residents feel the hospital will never go up, despite the new plans.
"We're five years down the road, and we still don't have a hospital," said Temecula resident Evan Harbottle, who talked to the planning commission during the meeting Wednesday.
While the city and Southwest dealt with red tape, Loma Linda planned and built a . It's set to open in March.
Temecula officials chose the wrong company to partner with on this project, Harbottle said.
"If I performed like this for five years, nobody would talk to me," he said.
Commissioner John Telesio defended the decision.
The project faced such scrutiny because of the delays, so this time, the project must stay on track, he said.
"From here on out, the management understands the city council, this commission and the public are watching," he said.
The people in charge of the company when it was floundering were replaced, he added.
Some residents of rural eastern Temecula are afraid of what a hospital will do to their neighborhood.
Kenneth Ray, who lives less than half a mile from the site, is afraid it will be noisy.
"It's always been a quiet area," he said.
He fears the hospital, with its air conditioner and ambulance sirens, will destroy the serenity he enjoys. "You'll have all kinds of noises coming from this place 24 hours a day," he said.
Plans for the hospital will be on display at the City of Temecula Planning Department, 43200 Business Park Dr., 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday. Questions about the project should go to the case planner at 951-506-5159.