California Highway Patrol Santa Fe Springs Area Office Replacement
Metropolitan State Hospital, a national and state eligible historic district is threatened by two proposed projects by the State of California
Historic places that have been demolished or irreparably altered.
The hospital, established in 1915, is the sixth state hospital in California dedicated to mental illness.
In October 2020, the California Highway Patrol approved the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the construction of a Santa Fe Springs Area Office on the Department of State Hospitals – Metropolitan campus. The campus, known as the Metropolitan State Hospital (MSH) is deemed eligible as a National Register of Historic Places and California Register of Historical Resources (NRHP/CRHR) historic district and as a California State Historical Landmark.
When constructed, the hospital departed from the large and forbidding congregate asylums of the day. “Garden City” urban design and “Cottage Plan” institutional design principles used at MSH incorporated human-scale buildings connected by informal green spaces with expansive lawns on the peripheries. Through its design, the hospital provided patients with a home-like feeling in a rural setting.
In the Conservancy’s Draft Environmental Impact Review (Draft EIR) comment letter, we voiced our concern about the proposed Project’s significant impact on the campus’s ability to convey its significance. MSH is an eligible historic district under NRHP/CRHR criterion A/1 (history) for “the important role it played in the evolution of public institutional mental health care as the first state hospital campus to be organized entirely around the Cottage Plan Model” and C/3 (architecture) “as a relatively intact example of Cottage Plan institutional design, which opened during the peak of the concepts popularity and on which its principles were fully realized.”
In their 2017 Historic Resource Report, JRP Historical Consulting, LLC determined the hospital eligible as a California Historical Landmark for its significance as “the first fully realized, last surviving, and most significant Cottage Plan hospital complex in California.”
The proposed project will construct the CHP office on 6 acres of the campus along Bloomfield Avenue. The proposed location will block the campus’s primary viewshed and drastically reduce greenspace which is a character-defining feature.
In 2018, the State approved the Metropolitan Police Consolidation Project to be built less than 100 feet away from the CHP project site. The two projects stand to have a great impact on the MSH’s integrity and will introduce a significant amount of new construction within the potential historic district and landmark.
The Metropolitan State Hospital tells the important history of healthcare and mental illness treatment in California and the nation as a whole. The continued chipping away of this campus’s integrity poses a serious threat to the hospital’s ability to convey its significance.
About This Issue
Established in 1915 as California’s sixth state hospital dedicated to mental illness, the Metropolitan State Hospital (MSH) is a National Register of Historic Places and California Register of Historical Resources-eligible historic district. The property has also been determined eligible as a California historical landmark.
MSH shares a similar history and threat with the Rancho Los Amigos campus in neighboring Downey. Developed around the same period as MSH, Rancho Los Amigos previously acted as the County’s poor farm and as a medical center for respiratory illness. The Conservancy has actively advocated for preserving the campus for more than a decade. Most recently, the County of Los Angeles proposed the wholesale demolition of the campus to build new county facilities.
These two campuses tell a unique and important story about our state’s healthcare system. Often the case, many Angelenos aren’t familiar with the campuses because they are located behind locked gates. Despite the lack of exposure, we believe these historic resources are worth advocating for and believe there are win-win solution for each location.
The Conservancy is very concerned by the State’s proposed CHP Santa Fe Springs Area Office Replacement Project. We believe that the State did not properly address the cumulative effects of the Metropolitan Police Consolidation Project and CHP Project in its Draft EIR.
On April 6, 2020, the Conservancy submitted comments on the Proposed CHP project detailing our concerns and our belief that the State did not fully exhaust alternative site locations before the release of the DEIR.