Talk of the Bay from KSQD
Talk of the Bay from KSQD
Sen. John Laird on New Watsonville Health District

State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) speaks about the new health district formed to usher in new local ownership and operation of the Watsonville Hospital.

Press Release from John Laird’s office:

Governor Newsom Signs Bill to Protect Health Care Access for Pajaro Valley Residents


Senate Bill 418 will immediately create the Pajaro Valley Health Care District which is first in line to purchase the Watsonville Community Hospital


WATSONVILLE – Today, Governor Newsom announced he has signed Senate Bill 418, authored by State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz).  SB 418 immediately creates the Pajaro Valley Health Care District which is first in line to purchase the Watsonville Community Hospital.


“I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this urgent and important piece of legislation that will help preserve access to healthcare services for Pajaro Valley residents,” stated Laird. “The Governor’s signature on SB 418 further demonstrates his commitment to ensuring vulnerable communities are not left without the safety net of healthcare, especially as COVID19 continues to spread throughout our communities.  His signature is also timely given how soon bids are due to purchase the Watsonville Community Hospital.”


In response to the current owners of the Watsonville Community Hospital filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, issuing WARN Act notices to employees, and announcing the hospital’s January closure, Senator Laird authored legislation to ensure the hospital doors remain open.


A mere three weeks ago, Senator Laird “gut and amended” Senate Bill 418 to add language that would create the Pajaro Valley Health Care District. In a matter of only weeks, Senator Laird moved this urgent piece of legislation through the full legislative process. Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Mark Stone, as well as Senator Anna Caballero also co-authored SB 418.


“I thank our regional leaders who remain active partners in this effort to protect and expand health care access for the residents of Pajaro Valley and surrounding communities,” said Laird. “The passage and approval of SB 418 reflects progress toward resolution on this critical issue and a pathway forward for Watsonville Community Hospital.”


Senate Bill 418 will take effect immediately.



Senator John Laird represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, the majority of Monterey County, as well as parts of Santa Clara County. He previously served as the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board, a member of the State Assembly, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Aids Project, and two terms as Santa Cruz Mayor. His lifetime of public service and social justice advocacy saw him become one of the first openly gay mayors to serve in the United States. Senator Laird has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz with his spouse John Flores.