Mayor Jerry Sanders said the downtown library could be among the projects the city seeks to build with the help of federal stimulus money.

Sanders told breakfasters at a morning event hosted by the Urban Land Institute of San Diego/Tijuana that the library was among the projects city officials were considering in their attempts to gain a share of federal stimulus money.

“We’re looking at a lot of different things that are ready to go,” Sanders said.

The library wasn’t included on a list of local projects compiled by the San Diego Association of Governments. However, Sanders said it’s still a possibility because that wasn’t a final list and just a sampling of projects that are shovel-ready.

The city and school district are discussing placing a 300-student high school in the library — a concept we’ve taken to calling a schoobrary. That could provide up to $20 million in school district money, but the project is still at least $30 million short of its price tag.

After the talk, Sanders said the library would qualify as shovel-ready if the school district secures an exemption to stringent state rules governing school construction. The mayor took no position on whether an exemption was a good idea, saying he didn’t understand the intricacies of the school construction law. But Sanders said he’s sure the library was designed to be safe in an earthquake.

The mayor said federal funding for the library is “just a possibility.” Sanders noted that the current stimulus bill would provide much less money for local infrastructure — about $30 billion — than was originally expected.

Local governments have been casting a wide net in their hunt for a share of that money, as my colleagues Kelly Bennett and Rob Davis have written.

In that story, Andrew Poat, vice president for policy at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., had this to say about the library:

“The library, I felt, was unlikely to be funded,” the EDC’s Poat said. “Largely speaking, the more money you need, the less likely you are to get a funding share.”

Sanders is traveling to Washington today to lobby for stimulus money for the city. The mayor said he wants to ensure the federal government doesn’t funnel money for local projects through Sacramento because the cash-strapped state government could keep the money for itself and issue IOUs to cities and counties.


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