In a special meeting on Tuesday, May 12, the Palm Drive Health District board voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to dissolve the health care district by July 1. They will now submit their dissolution application to LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission), which oversees the creation and dissolution of special districts. LAFCO is expected to unanimously approve the dissolution.
It was a victory for the district’s opponents, who had long sought the dissolution of troubled district.
“The resolution is very simple and straightforward,” said Jim Horn, a former Palm Drive board member who began a petition this year to force the dissolution of the district. “This is exactly what Mark Bramfitt (at LAFCO) has been telling them for the last three months. The county is going to take over … and the dissolution is effective July 1. And that’s exactly what we’ve been we’ve been looking for since February.”
What’s behind the board’s sudden push to dissolve? As of last week’s board meeting, the district’s lawyers were telling the board to settle in for a long, slow process of dissolution that could run into 2021.
“Well, what caused it was the fact that we were told that we’re going to have to spend somewhere between $75,000 to $125,000 for an election in November for positions that won’t even exist. So, we were trying to save that money and figured out an alternative route,” said Palm Drive Health Care District board member Richard Power, who as a candidate ran on a platform of dissolving the district.
Power, board member Gail Thomas and attorney Diana Rich are members of the district’s dissolution taskforce. They will continue meeting to hammer out the details of the dissolution. Power expects the full board will meet several more times as well before dissolving.
The dissolution of the district will have no effect on Sonoma Specialty Hospital (the former Palm Drive Hospital), which is now a long-term acute care facility owned by a private company, AAMG, which was purchased the hospital from the health care district in 2019.