Bad Medicine

A nurses' union joins antidevelopment forces to prevent a new hospital from being built.

"We love our daughter, and we wanted a safe place for her," said Susan Michel.

So the Michels bought a condominium at One Daniel Burnham Court, a pair of nine-story and 16-story towers joined by a guarded glass atrium near the corner of Post and Van Ness.

Not long afterward, however, the Michels' daughter's housing situation again seemed to darken. Susan Michel learned of a proposal to turn the site of Cathedral Hill Hotel across the street into the grounds of a hospital.

"We will no longer be able to have any view of San Francisco Bay because the hospital will take that away," the Michels wrote in a 2006 letter of protest to the Planning Department.

"The hospital building would take a lot of the daylight from her apartment," Susan Michel added during an interview last week.

It's almost tempting to empathize with the Michels' wish to guarantee their daughter a sunlight-bathed, bay-view–endowed condominium future. And Nato Green's strategy of joining their neighborhood's protests would be compelling if one union's tactics were the only thing that mattered to San Francisco workers.

But holding up nearly $1.7 billion in shovel-ready infrastructure spending that would create thousands of jobs — just as America's economic free-fall threatens to throw millions of workers into poverty — is a cause unbecoming of my favorite labor union.

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