David Mendez

Beach Cities Health District Design-build bill awaits Brown’s signature

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A rendering for a proposed Beach Cities Health District Center for Health and Fitness project, at the corner of Beryl Avenue and Flagler Lane. Image courtesy BCHD

 

Law would give BCHD power to streamline process for new campus

by David Mendez

A state bill designed to expedite construction of a “Healthy Living Campus” on property owned by the Beach Cities Health District has been approved by the State Legislature and is awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

The bill was enrolled by the Legislature on September 7. According to the Legislative Calendar, Oct. 15 is the last day for Governor Brown to sign or veto bills passed on or before Sept. 15 and in the Governor’s possession after Sept. 15.

“I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I’m optimistic that the Governor will recognize the importance of BCHD’s plans,” Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi said. “It’s a win for seniors, a win for Beach Cities taxpayers, and it’s going to allow the health district to upgrade their existing facilities.”

Assembly Bill 994, was authored by Muratsuchi and co-written State Senator Ben Allen, both of whom represent the South Bay. Muratsuchi said the bill will save the health district $20 million.

The bill would allow the district to award both the design and construction of the campus to a single contractor, a process known as design-build. Current state law would require the district to award the construction contract to a party other than the project designer, a process known as design-bid-build.

Plans for the Healthy Living Campus, to be built on the 11-acre property owned by BCHD near Prospect and Beryl avenues, call for up to 400 senior residences, including 200 “independent living” apartments and 200 assisted living apartments. The district also plans to expand the existing Center for Health and Fitness gym, repair other existing facilities and build new offices on the existing BCHD site.

According to BCHD spokesman Eric Garner, there’s not yet a cost estimate for the project.

“We should have a pretty good idea of the project cost by the end of the year,” Garner said.

A State Senate analysis of the design-build process, while reducing costs, “increases chances that inappropriate factors could influence which bidders are awarded some contracts.”

The bill was opposed by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), who chairs the Assembly’s Local Government Commission.

Health districts have come under fire for mismanaging funds in recent years. In 2012, the Salinas Valley Memorial Health Care System was found to have violated open meeting laws to highly compensate its CEO. That same year, the Mount Diablo Health Care District, which allegedly mismanaged taxpayer dollars to benefit board members, had its authority assigned to the City of Concord.

“I think BCHD was facing opposition because they were the victim of other bad actors that have given health districts a bad name in Sacramento,” Muratsuchi said. “We were able to convince people that BCHD has a strong record of fiscal accountability and transparency, unlike some other districts.”

BCHD CEO Tom Bakaly praised Muratsuchi for his involvement.

“He really has taken this bill and run with it,” Bakaly said. “Al grabbed onto the idea that we’re different…we’re extremely transparent, open, accountable, and we own this building that needs repairs.”

The Health District’s facility, formerly South Bay Hospital, was built in 1955. The hospital closed to form BCHD in 1998.

“At the end of the day, we can have senior living services adjacent to social services, preventative care, and primary care and take a holistic approach to health for older adults,” Bakaly said.

BCHD will host a Community Open House to update residents on the Healthy Living Campus and receive feedback on Oct. 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

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