Guardians could drop Peninsula Medical Center lawsuit

A watchdog group could drop its lawsuit against the Peninsula Health Care District if a meeting early next month settles the group’s reservations about the new Peninsula Medical Center project.

Mitchell Green, attorney for the Peninsula Guardians, a group formed in response to the hospital project, said he and the district’s attorney will likely meet to talk in the first week of September.

The discussion will be an informal, confidential meeting where the lawyers can hash out their concerns about the lease agreement, Green said. Among those concerns is the 50-year lease agreement, which Green says goes way beyond the 30-year state limit for public hospital property.

Doug Straus, attorney for the district, says he plans on sitting down to listen to what the other party has to say. However, he said it is unlikely that any substantive changes will be made to the contract.

“I can’t imagine that [the district] would be making any material changes to the lease that is in place,” Straus said. “Efforts to challenge the process by which this issue will be considered have fallen completely on its face. But we’re doing all we can to accommodate their request.”

About 101,000 San Mateo County voters are currently deciding the fate of Measure V, a special mail-in ballot on the hospital project, for which the voting period ends Tuesday.

The Guardians, meanwhile, have a lawsuit on file challenging the validity of the 50-year lease agreement between Mills-Peninsula Health Services and the district at the heart of the plan outlined in that measure.

Mills-Peninsula Health Services wants to build, at its own expense, a $488 million hospital at 1783 El Camino Real to replace the existing Peninsula Medical Center, which does not meet 2013 state-mandated seismic standards.

Green said the Guardians might drop the lawsuit if all their concerns and questions are addressed properly in the meeting. Even if voters next week approve the hospital project, which would be the last hurdle in the six-year process, the lawsuit could invalidate that election if it succeeds.

tramroop@examiner.com

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