LANCASTER — A $350 million bond measure to build a new hospital to replace Antelope Valley Hospital’s aging and out-of-compliance facility was narrowly ahead but not enough to pass in the early results from Tuesday’s election.
Measure AV was essentially tied with early results tallied with 12,573 votes, or 51.82% in favor, to 11,690 votes, or 48.18% against.
The measure requires approval by two-thirds of the votes cast in order to pass.
With original buildings dating to 1955, the not-for-profit Antelope Valley Hospital faces constraints of physical space and a pressing need to meet current state seismic standards, for which a significant portion of the hospital could be deemed unusable if not addressed. These areas can not be retrofitted to meet today’s standards.
The hospital faces a 2025 state deadline to meet seismic standards. This is an extension to the original 2020 date, and comes with specific milestones in which the district must show progress toward constructing a new building or retrofitting the old.
If it can not meet the deadline, the hospital will be forced to close, officials said.
The Antelope Valley Healthcare District has put forth plans to build the new hospital facility on land owned by the District to the west of the existing structures at Avenue J and 15th Street West.
This new facility has an estimated price tag of $600 million to $650 million.
The voter-approved bond measure will cover a portion of these costs, with the remainder to be raised through private, tax-exempt bonds and potentially county and federal programs, officials said.
Supporters of the bond measure said it was necessary to ensure the continued operation of the non-profit hospital, governed by the Antelope Valley Healthcare District’s elected Board.
The hospital serves some 220,000 patients annually, has the only certified trauma center in the Valley and, at least until later this year when Palmdale Regional Medical Center is expected to open one, the only maternity and labor services.
The most visible opposition to the bond measure and the property tax increase it would entail was led by a committee funded by Palmdale Regional Medical Center, the only other hospital in the Valley and owned by Universal Health Services.