The charitable arm of the San Francisco Archdiocese said it could yank plans for a South of Market child care center if city lawmakers take control of the closure of such facilities.
San Francisco suffers from a severe shortage of facilities that care for children, which city officials consider critical for supporting families, workers and the local economy.
Some child care in San Francisco is provided by Catholic Charities CYO, a 103-year-old nonprofit linked to the archdiocese.
The nonprofit expects to shut the Children’s Village Child Development Center in SoMa in two months, after the site was sold by the archdiocese.
A $2.3 million replacement facility is planned two blocks away at 10th and Mission streets, but it will not be ready in time to serve the kids tossed out of the existing center.
Parents have unsuccessfully rallied to save the center, which the nonprofit said is financially unsustainable and no longer serves the high proportion of low-income families for which it was built.
In response, city supervisors sponsored legislation that would require property owners and developers to secure a conditional-use permit from The City before closing or reducing the size of most child care centers.
The Board of Supervisors can rule on conditional-use permit applications.
The legislation authored by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier was strongly supported Monday by her colleagues during a committee hearing.
But George Wesolek. who works for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, said during the hearing that the legislation would create a “layer of bureaucracy” and a “disincentive” to open child care centers, including the proposed facility at 10th and Mission streets.
“With this kind of legislation, we feel that we might step back and look at that again because we’re going to be tied in by another level of bureaucracy,” Wesolek said.
Alioto-Pier defended the legislation.
“We use conditional uses for everything; if you want to open up a Starbucks on Union Street, you need a conditional use,” she said during the hearing.
“This is not some overarching, awful thing that is going to absolutely stop child care centers from coming into San Francisco. I simply believe it to be an outrageously false statement.”
San Francisco’s child care industry
308 Licensed centers
621 Licensed family child care homes
4,415 Workers employed
$191 million Revenue
18,246 Capacity of licensed facilities
40,000 Additional capacity needed
Source: San Francisco Human Services Agency
Correction: This article was corrected on July 20, 2010. The original article incorrectly identified the employer for George Wesolek. He works for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.