City of El Centro faces lawsuit..

EL CENTRO, Calif.- The opening of the new Planned Parenthood in El Centro has been very controversial since the beginning.

Planned Parenthood has announced it will be filing a lawsuit against the City of El Centro this coming Monday. The lawsuit came after a delay in issuing final documentation from the City of El Centro. Planned Parenthood Vice President of Marketing, Cita Walsh says everything they are doing is legal, and says they are very disappointed the center had to file a lawsuit.

“All we want to do is provide more reproductive healthcare to residents of the Imperial Valley.” Said Walsh.

Walsh says construction plans were submitted and approved from the City of El Centro back in November, 2014. The city approved the plans with a California Building Code Group B. But Walsh says days before the opening of the health center, the El Centro fire chief claimed the facility would need to be re-classified as a Building Code I, meaning they would need make additional modifications to the building.

El Centro City Mayor Efrain Silva says he was aware of the threat of litigation from Planned Parenthood but was not sure when that would happen.

“The next step is to wait for an evaluation by the state fire marshal, to confirm that our interpretation of the code is consistent with law. Then  Planned Parenthood would have to make revisions to their building to comply with the law.”

Walsh says the Certificate of Occupancy was received earlier this week, but their services are limited because the city continues to deny the clearance needed to obtain the license from the Department of Public Health.

Ariana Gonzalez,  Imperial Valley resident and mother of two says there aren’t enough healthcare centers in Imperial County that provide assistance for young mothers like her. She says the limited services and hours restrict other Imperial Valley residents from the benefits they should be receiving.

“Access to care is fairly limited here, there’s a lot of long wait times, weeks or months to get appointments.”

For now Planned Parenthood has received their Certificate of Occupancy which allows them to open 20 hours per week. A fire safety approval is what puts them at hold to provide full services and open full hours.

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