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West Sonoma County Group wants to DETACH from Palm Drive Healthcare District


West Sonoma County Group wants to DETACH from Palm Drive Healthcare District

From the time people voted to add a parcel taxt to all properties in West Sonoma County to be included in the Palm Drive Healthcare District, people have objected. Now that an investment group wants to reinvent the bankrupt Palm Drive Hosptal into Sonoma West Medical Center, people are objecting once again. They want communities more easily served by Sutter and Kaiser to be DETACHED from the District and be removed from the parcel tax.

Detachment from Palm Drive

I truly understand why some (not all) Sebastopol residents want to re-open “their” hospital.  I don’t understand why those same Sebastopol residents refer to a growing population of residents along the River Road Corridor (Monte Rio, Guerneville and Forestville School District areas) who support detachment as being greedy and self-centered.  Gail Thomas, of Palm Drive Health Care Foundation, said it best at the last Board meeting … “I want an emergency room 5 minutes from my front door.”  Who wouldn’t?  The reality is, that is not going to happen for the 27% of the voters who generate 42% of the tax revenue for this twice failed district. 

Palm Drive Health Care District (PDHCD) is a special district.  As a special district, PDHCD is tasked with providing services throughout the district – not just Sebastopol.  They have not served the Russian River communities although they have happily collected special assessments from our communities for 15 years ($20M- $25M).  Not a bad deal - for them. 

PDHCD boundaries were drawn to maximize tax revenues.  Our area was included in the district for the high volume of taxable parcels (summer cabins and taxable lots) vs. low voter representation (absent property owners do not have a vote).  If anyone wonders why Cazadero and more northern communities (who must travel through the PDHCD to go to a hospital or medical facility) are not a part of the district, it is because they would have swayed the vote against forming the district.  (Gerrymandering - to manipulate or adapt to one's advantage). 

Health Care Options.  We now have two state-of-the-art hospital facilities which are actually easier to access.  Sutter is approximately 16 miles and Kaiser is 18.4 miles from the Russian River Fire Department in Guerneville.  Palm Drive is a slow 18.3 miles (via River Road, the preferred route of our ambulance service).  Sonoma County has a substantially large population who now belong to Kaiser and a growing population who are covered by Sutter.  Those remaining few who do have insurance that will cover services at Palm Drive (Sonoma West Medical Center) will still have the ability to go to the hospital of their choosing. 

I’ve grown weary of the scare tactics, listening to bashing by Foundation members of other area hospitals and demeaning comments toward River communities at District Board meetings, not to mention the Board’s failure and refusal to provide requested information regarding financials and asset appraisals, despite repeated requests.  After two bankruptcies, a revolving door of Executive Directors (at least 10) and continued fiscal irresponsibility, I can’t believe that a new name, a fresh coat of paint and a “no wait” ER will somehow magically turn Palm Drive into a going concern or profitable facility.  They expect to open on April 27th - they haven’t even come up with a viable plan to exit bankruptcy?  Talk about the cart way ahead of the horse! 

Barbara DeCarly, Guerneville, CA


A growing group of Russian River corridor constituents has taken the first step in detaching from the Palm Drive Health Care District. The District board has been informed of our intention to detach and are scheduling a special board meeting in Monte Rio to publicly discuss this option along with their attorney, a LAFCO representative and a bond expert. 

Detachment does not require any approval or permission from the District. LAFCO recommends discussion with the local agency first. Like any government process, this will take time and many steps to complete. 

Why would the Russian River corridor detach?

First of all, many believe the River corridor was included in the District as a rich income source supporting a hospital facility for the Sebastopol community.  The District boundaries are defined by nine elementary school districts with Forestville, Guerneville and Monte Rio school districts making up 42% of the parcels and 42% of the District taxes.

There have never been any Palm Drive District services offered directly to the River corridor community.  Although there is some interest in pursuing programs in our area it is too little, too late.

The River community includes many nonresident second homes and vacant parcels who’s owners have no say or vote about the tax burden.  This is truly taxation without representation. To further aggravate the inequity, the River corridor makes up 27% of the district registered voters, many who are not parcel owners.  And, with all but one District board member from Sebastopol, we have a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing anyone that we matter.

Are the Palm Drive Health Care District current plans financially sustainable?  The District is in the midst of it’s second bankruptcy.  After a year, there is still no exiting plan.  With the most recent plans depending on all the parcel tax monies and heavy philanthropy, sustainability is seriously questionable. There is no point in putting more money in a financial, astronomical black hole that offers no service to our area.

Sustainability is further in question with very large numbers of District constituents with Kaiser, Sutter and St. Joseph membership unable to access Sebastopol services.  With 80% of the predicted consumers on Medicare, low reimbursement for services is eminent.  MediCal numbers are not insignificant. You get the picture!

What we do have is the detachment process.  The decisions will be made by the registered voters of the Forestville, Guerneville, and Monte Rio school districts.  No other part of the District may vote on this issue.  It is up to us.  It may be our only option to have a say in this morass.

It’s like I said before, hang on to your wallet, it’s going to be a rough ride!

Jeanette Dillman


Here is a reposrt form 2012 on Sonoma County hospitals which includes their services and funding sources

West Sonoma County Communities want to DETACH from PDHCD


To begin with let me say that in years past I have used and was glad to have Palm Drive Hospital as an option for emergency medical treatment.  I went there to have glass removed from my arm and receive stiches after running through a plate glass window.  That was 37 years ago.  I took my daughter to have a barbed fish hook removed from her thumb 13 years ago.  For those of you counting at home that is twice in the last 37 years.  I have paid thousands of dollars through property taxes to keep this option open, against my wishes.  To me this hospital is a luxury, not a necessity.  As a single father of 4 daughters I can scarcely afford luxuries, especial those that benefit an already affluent community.  I work full time and more to take care of my responsibilities and this hospital is not one of them.   A town that can support its own police service can, if they really want it, support their own hospital.   I live in Western County and it takes approx. 30 min to get to Palm Drive or Sutter; the latter of which happens to be a real, well-staffed and equipped hospital.  Which would you go to?  If you live in Sebastopol you might like the option of walking to your hospital that is your right, your hospital and your responsibility to maintain and pay for.  I and many like me do not want or need it and haven’t for quite some time.  It is unfair and unjust to force people to spend their hard earned dollars for something that does not benefit them in the slightest. 

At a recent meeting discussing “detachment” Jonathan Greenberg was quoted (PD) “the anit-tax argument, ‘I don’t use it, I don’t want to pay for it,’ is something that I found morally reprehensible,’.  I might remind Mr. Greenberg (of Sebastopol) that this is not a school we are talking about here this is a non-essential and obviously non-sustainable project.  I think many of Americans wanted no part of bailing out the banks; we were forced to do so.  The Federal government is a much bigger beast to reign in than local government.  We as a community should have more say in how our local money is spent.  Mr. Greenberg went on to state that he believes those who favor detachment represent a small segment of the Russian River corridor, not the majority.  When you include the whole River corridor this may be true, when you include most points west of Sebastopol not so true.  If it is, in fact, a small segment of tax payers then Mr. Greenberg and those of his mindset should have no problem in taking over our portion of the payments; I believe it would only amount to cents on their property tax.  That is my two cents and all I am willing to pitch in on this sinking ship.

Robert K. Andersen
River resident and disgruntled tax payer


Having a hospital in Sebastopol truly raises the stature of
 the community. And for the wealthy
 enclaves of Bodega Bay and Occidental, an emergency room in Sebastopol could be
 a real life saver. But Palm Drive supporter, know this, we on The
 River are sick and tired of paying for your hospital. Many of us are physically closer to Santa
 Rosa and Healdsburg than we are to Sebastopol; in terms of travel time we are
 much closer to Santa Rosa. And few of us
 can afford any insurance plan that covers Palm Drive.

If we do show up and patronize this facility, 
do we get any special discount for providing this facility with a steady cash 
flow? Maybe anyone who pays the parcel 
tax could qualify for the Medicare reimbursement rates? It feels like we were gerrymandered into this district 
to capture a large number of parcels to tax with fewer voters.

We on the lower Russian River are being asked
 to subsidize this facility that doesn’t serve us. This is happening in a context of another
 problem we are having with Sebastopol. We
 are seeing a huge influx of homeless people who are being rousted from the Sebastopol
 encampments by the Sebastopol PD. The
 Homeless people are being told that, unfortunately, Sebastopol doesn’t have
s ervices for them, but we do at The River.

 is now the home of West County Community Services, a major player in Sebastopol’s
 booming non-profit sector and one of the major providers of services to the 
homeless. We have some emergency “beds” 
at the Vet’s Hall and every week or so a truck pulls up to a parking lot and
 they toss food onto pallets and speed off in a few hours. Unfortunately, many of the homeless are not 
using the shelter and they are setting up encampments on the river bank. Sebastopol is benefiting from having West 
County Community Services there. They are 
renting a large space and have paid employees who surely contribute to the
 local economy.

Don’t even think abou t
asking us for more help with your hospital while you continue to ship us your
 homeless population. You have a Vet’s hall
f or an emergency shelter; you have public parking lots for food distribution. In fact, many would argue that Palm Drive
 would make a wonderful homeless shelter. 
It could have a clinic too!

Mike – Ernie Loconsolo