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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day Care Centers Fight For Survival Amid State Building Sell-Off

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 1:45 PM

click to enlarge Sorry ma -- your day care needs are no longer compatible with the state's plans - DOROTHEA LANGE
  • Dorothea Lange
  • Sorry ma -- your day care needs are no longer compatible with the state's plans
Day care directors are trying to figure out how to fight back upon learning that toddlers and infants may be among the first to be evicted thanks to California's genius move to sell off state property for a one-time budget infusion of $2 billion.

"We're going to do what we can to prevent this from happening," said Beverly Melugin, executive director of C5 Children's School, a nonprofit nursery and pre-school with facilities at the California state buildings at 505 Van Ness Ave. and 455 Golden Gate Ave -- the PUC and Supreme Court Buildings, respectively.

Melugin on Friday received notice that those buildings are among 11 properties put on the block in a deal approved by the state legislature last summer. Basically, it's a glorified way to borrow more money to close California's budget deficit. Rather than borrowing from a bank, California seeks investors to buy state buildings at a price determined largely on the basis of 20 years worth of lease-payments to be paid by state agencies. While it's a surefire way to lose money in the long-run, it does give the state cash-in-hand in the short-term.

Unlike a homeowner taking out a second mortgage, this transaction

involves allowing investors exert a certain degree of physical control

over the properties. Depending on how individual deals are finally

worked out, the buyers may have the right to evict schools serving

state employees' pre-kindergarten kids, give the boot to snack bars,

and re-purpose auditoriums presently used for government functions, a

state spokesman explained. The spokesman acknowledged that backers of a child care center at the Elihu M. Harris state government building in Oakland were also preparing for the worst now that their building will be sold.

The state building child care centers in San Francisco operate under leases that expire in 2011 and 2012.

"We're trying to organize to do a campaign to try to influence the

state as these sales go forward so that potentially, we wouldn't be be

put out," said Melugin, who'se been in discussions with other day care managers around the state.

State Sen. Mark Leno said any deals must be submitted to the legislature for approval, and if they include the possibility of evicting kids, he'll oppose them.

"If anyone is under threat of getting displaced, I will make certain they will not be," Leno said.

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