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By Jim Shilander

New San Clemente City Attorney Scott Smith told the San Clemente City Council Tuesday that after reviewing the legal implications of Measure V, he believed the council could allow acreage near Avenida La Pata to be rezoned to allow for a hospital without having to put the issue before voters, though the council could allow a referendum to go forward if it so chose.

City Manager James Makshanoff said March 4 that the city had identified 10 acres of property that could potentially serve as an alternative site for a hospital if MemorialCare chooses to close the Saddleback Memorial San Clemente campus and is not able to secure legislative relief to allow for emergency services to continue at the site should it became an advanced urgent care center.

Residents on both sides of the hospital issue spoke to the council at what might be the last meeting before the health system’s board makes a decision on whether to move forward with plans to raze the hospital facility and replace it with an advanced urgent care facility. Memorial Care officials said after the meeting they are making every effort to encourage a legislative fix to allow for emergency services at the site if it is changed to an urgent care center. The council asked that MemorialCare officials come to their next meeting, Tuesday April 7, to discuss the issue.

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