Mayor: City Should Stop Paying for Public Art

Mayor Jerry Sanders issued a memo today recommending that the city temporarily halt its program to fund public art in capital projects like fire stations.

San Diego 6 News reported last night that at the same time as major budget cuts are mandated for fire fighters, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for public art projects at two fire stations.

From the 6 News piece:

Fire fighters say they are being asked to eliminate more than $7 million from their budget, while more than $150,000 is earmarked for a work of art at Station 5 in Hillcrest and the same amount for a project at Station 17 in Mid-City.

The city policy mandates that some city building renovation and construction projects receive earmarked funding for public art, but allows the city to temporarily suspend the program if there won’t be enough money to “maintain the current level of city services.”

Sanders’ memo said his recommendation comes because of especially tough budget times at the city that will likely lead to permanent rolling brownouts at fire stations — shutting down certain fire companies on different days — and police officer layoffs.

“While the goals of public art are important and commendable, they must be closely examined at a time when our public safety goals cannot be adequately funded,” the memo states.

Mayoral spokesman Alex Roth said Jay Goldstone, the city’s chief operating officer, will spend the next couple of weeks compiling information on how many projects this policy change would impact.

Please contact Kelly Bennett directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

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Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. You can reach her directly at kelly@vosd.org.

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