CPMC deal gets warm welcome despite some shortcomings

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Mediator Lou Giraudo (at podium) announced the deal between CPMC and city officials on March 5.
Mike Koozmin

Even though the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the term sheet for the California Pacific Medical Center's hospital deal this week, comments from the supervisors and the general public indicated there are still a few outstanding issues before the project returns to the board for final approval, probably in July.

As the Guardian recently reported, CPMC's longstanding contract impasse with the California Nurses Association remains the biggest sticking point even for many labor-community coalition members who helped hammer out the deal that was announced last week. James Tracy of the Community Housing Partnership told the supervisors that he was almost ready to uncork the champagne and celebrate, “but I'm holding off until there is labor peace with the nurses.”

New District 5 Sup. London Breed went on extended tirade ripping into the hard-won compromise plan, voicing support for the nurses, wanting more specifics on how affordable housing money will be used, calling for more money for job training to support the plan's local hiring standards (“I need to know how this is going to transfer into support for Western Addition residents,” and concluding that she's generally supportive of the deal but “I will reserve final judgment.”

Calvin Welch of the Council of Community Housing Organizations echoed Breed's concern that the $36.5 million in affordable housing funds will be paid into the Mayor's Office of Housing's general pot rather than be set aside for specific projects. “We are very concerned with how this multi-faceted program will unfold,” Welch said, asking that COCHO be included in decisions about how the money from CPMC gets used.

Sup. Scott Wiener decried how the new deal's $14 million in transportation impact fees is 30 percent less than the ill-fated previous deal – the result of a significantly smaller footprint of the Cathedral Hill Hospital – saying, “Once again transit comes out on the short end.”

The change called for by more supervisors than any other is an increase in job training funds to support the guarantee that 30 percent of construction jobs and 40 percent of permanent entry level jobs go to San Franciscans. Even though job training funds were doubled to $4 million under the new agreement, some supervisors and activists say that's not enough.

“That's a big improvement, but it's still not enough, given the type of training needed for low-income San Franciscans to be able to work in the hospitals,” Gordon Mar of San Franciscans For Healthcare, Housing, Jobs and Justice told the Guardian.

Yet even with all these gripes and picking of nits, which will play out as the development agreement is prepared and goes through the Planning Commission approval process starting in May, the consensus across the ideological spectrum seems to be that this is a good deal for the city that is likely to be approved if CPMC can reach a contract with CNA

And all hailed it as a vast improvement over the deal CPMC cut last year with the Mayor's Office, offering a lesson for city officials who are now negotiating other big deals, such as the Warriors Arena proposal. As Sup. John Avalos said at the hearing, “I remember a statement form the Mayor's Office last year that this is the best we can get. I think we always need to challenge that.”