Affordable, safe housing is key to people’s health; this is an established fact. Housing advocates on the Peninsula have pressed the Peninsula Health Care District for years to use the public land it stewards for affordable housing for workers and at-risk disabled people and seniors.
Our pleas to the district have met with secrecy, inflexibility and elitism. The fact that most residents don’t know it exists is the district’s own doing. Flush with cash to spend on communications, it has neglected to let itself be known to the voters. The district refuses to broadcast or record its meetings. “Dog and pony shows” of plans for market-rate housing on scarce public land are designed to minimize public input. Reluctantly deciding to include affordable units at the planned Wellness Center is solely due to the dogged determination of advocates.
We have entered an era when the public is demanding transparency, accountability and meaningful change from local governments. Residents and the media need to take a good hard look at how the district makes decisions on the use of public land, and the failings of its investment in The Trousdale, an assisted living facility available only to the wealthy.
This year, two board members are up for re-election. We need fresh, open-minded representatives who will reflect the diversity of everyone in our community. This board appears to be incapable of emerging from its insularity and the status quo.