The city of San Diego is refusing to release a new cost estimate for the schoobrary.

The city has a new estimate from its contractor for how much the downtown main library/charter school will cost, but isn’t releasing it until it prepares a memo to City Council, Mayor’s Office spokeswoman Rachel Laing said. The Mayor’s Office expects to send the memo Friday morning.

“This isn’t something we’re withholding full stop,” Laing said. “It’s a matter of a proper process.”

It’s the second time in three weeks the Mayor’s Office has refused to release public information in its possession. Two weeks ago, mayor’s spokesman Alex Roth would not give me historical information about city street repair because he wanted to save it for a press conference.

The schoobrary cost estimate is key to the project’s future as boosters have yet to find the money they need to build it.

The last estimate from November 2005 was for $185 million, and as of last June private funding was $36 million short. City officials are hoping the price tag will decrease. Other construction funding includes $80 million from the city’s downtown redevelopment agency, Centre City Development Corp., $20 million from a state library grant and $20 million from the San Diego Unified School District to lease two of the library’s upper floors for a charter middle or high school.

Meantime, a new twist emerged in the schoobrary saga.

Local labor leaders Thursday released a legal opinion that suggests the city wouldn’t be able to fund the project with school district dollars if an outsourcing ballot initiative championed by Councilman Carl DeMaio passes in November.

The opinion states that the school district’s participation in the schoobrary requires construction to comply with state prevailing wage laws. But that would conflict directly with DeMaio’s initiative, which the opinion says would ban prevailing wage on city projects.

Construction is scheduled to begin by Aug. 1, before DeMaio’s initiative could pass. Regardless, Evan McLaughlin, political director for the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, said the initiative would prevent the city from paying constructions for any of the library-school construction.

“Funding in whole or in part means writing a check,” McLaughlin said.

The Mayor’s Office shrugged off concerns about the impact of DeMaio’s initiative, saying that the contract execution was the key date.

“DeMaio’s ballot proposition is not expected to have any impact on the project,” Laing said.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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