Groups Push for Approval of Ballot Measure To Replace S.F. Hospital
On Sept. 15, civic, political and business leaders in San Francisco will launch a major campaign in support of a ballot initiative to approve an $887.4 million bond issue to replace San Francisco General Hospital, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
The rebuilding is needed to meet state seismic safety regulations and to modernize the aging facility, which is the only Level 1 trauma center for San Francisco and northern San Mateo County. San Francisco General also serves as a safety net hospital for the city's low-income and uninsured residents.
The bond issue would cover construction and related costs for the proposed 284-bed new facility. However, the total costs are estimated at more than $1 billion, including additional costs related to fixtures, furnishings and equipment not covered by bonds.
Polling shows that 71% of voters support the measure's language, and that even more expressed support after hearing arguments from proponents and critics of the bond issue.
Proponents of the initiative, known as Proposition A, include the city's Democratic and Republican Party establishments, health care organizations, labor groups and business and community organizations.
According to the Business Times, "Organized opposition has yet to emerge," although supporters acknowledge that voters are aware of cost overruns in similar past projects.
Gene O'Connell, the hospital's CEO, said the prospects for the initiative are "really positive."
Warren Hellman, the city's financier, said, "It's the most important thing on the ballot," adding, "We desperately need to rebuild San Francisco General. It's way overdue, and by any measure it's one of the city's greatest assets."
The vote is scheduled for Nov. 2, and the initiative requires a two-thirds majority for approval.
The city hopes the project will begin in the fall of 2010 and be complete by early 2015. Mayor Gavin Newsom approved a $25 million preliminary planning process for the new building that would allow construction to begin quickly, the Business Times reports (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times).