[March 19, 2019] MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Healthcare workers filed a ballot initiative for the November 2020 election to ensure voters have a say in the El Camino Healthcare District’s expansion plans, in light of the district’s recent purchase of five clinics outside its boundaries and refusal to retain 180 people who currently work at those facilities.
“This initiative is a matter of democracy and how the district needs to be accountable to voters and the millions of taxpayer dollars entrusted to them,” said Andrew Barragan, a Sunnyvale resident who is one of the measure’s proponents. “If the district plans to expand outside the community that created and supports it, it should get voters’ consent and reassure them that it syncs with the community’s values.”
Under the ballot initiative, the purchase or maintenance of facilities or property outside the boundaries of the healthcare district would be subject to voter approval. The measure applies to all actions effective Jan. 1, 2019, including the board’s decision last month to spend $1.27 million to buy three clinics in San Jose and one each in Gilroy and Morgan Hill from Verity Health. The sale of the clinics is expected to close April 1, 2019.
“The district is becoming less and less accountable to voters as the board of directors grows to include more unelected members,” said Veronica Vides, a Sunnyvale resident who is the ballot initiative’s second proponent. “El Camino is a community resource and we need to ensure that the community maintains control over it.”
The district board has made no commitment to retain the employees at the five clinics, raising concerns about how patient care will be affected and whether the facilities will remain open following the ownership change.
Thirteen elected officials from the region have urged the district board to keep the clinics open and retain the employees: U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), Anna Eshoo (D-Menlo Park), Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel) and Ro Khanna (D-San Jose); California Assemblymembers Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose); Santa Clara County Supervisors Dave Cortese and Susan Ellenberg; San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco, San Jose City Councilmembers Maya Esparza, Sergio Jimenez and Raul Peralez; and Gilroy City Councilmember Carol Marques.
The El Camino Healthcare District includes most of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills; a large portion of Sunnyvale, and small sections of Cupertino, Santa Clara and Palo Alto. It is governed by a publicly elected or appointed board of five members.