Assessment of the Navy Comparative Study of Florida Canyon and Helix Heights for the Proposed San Diego Naval Hospital

HRD-81-71: Published: Apr 23, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1981.

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GAO was requested to assess all aspects of the Navy's November 25, 1980, Comparative Study of Florida Canyon and Helix Heights, potential sites for the proposed new Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego, California. The former Secretary of the Navy selected Florida Canyon as the preferred site but, after the Comparative Study, several significant events occurred relating primarily to the design and location of the hospital on the Florida Canyon site. Among these events were: (1) the Navy's decision to modify the high-rise medical facility concept and return to a low-rise design that would be more in line with the original planning concepts developed before the earthquake fault in Florida Canyon was discovered; and (2) further testing of the fault showed that more land was available for building on the western upper-segment of the Florida Canyon site than was originally anticipated.

GAO believes that the Navy's decision to locate the medical center in Florida canyon is still appropriate. This conclusion is premised on several factors: (1) the Navy's decision to move to the west side of Florida Canyon eliminates or diminishes many significant problems associated with the construction of a high-rise structure on the east side of the canyon; (2) the land assembly process at Helix Heights is still uncertain; (3) the potential flexibility associated with peacetime uses of Building 26 and the Navy's desire to retain it for acute-care use in the event of a contingency makes this site more attractive; and (4) the currently estimated cost premiums at Florida Canyon could be at least partially offset by making maximum peacetime use of Building 26. The conclusion is based on the assumption that environmental considerations raised and the results of pending environmental and land condemnation litigation will not override factors already considered in selecting the medical center site. GAO believes that the Navy's plan to mothball Building 26 for contingency purposes is not the best approach for possible use of the building. Consideration should be given to mothballing the three basement levels and using the rest of the building during peacetime for such activities as light care and the corps school. This would eliminate or defer the need for constructing new light care and corps school facilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct, if it is decided to locate the medical center at Florida Canyon, the Secretary of the Navy to confirm the potential for peacetime uses of Building 26 that preserve the facility's acute care structure. The Secretary should take no action to design or construct a proposed light care facility until the use potentials have been confirmed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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