The Morning Report
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A final decision is scheduled for this summer on building a new $185 million schoobrary, the main library charter school hybrid. Reader Kim Schoettle sent along a few questions about the project and here are our answers.
Were there environmental, traffic and parking studies done on the schoobrary?
The library has been planned for a long time — discussions first began in the 1970s — and all these studies for the current Park Boulevard and J Street site were completed between 2002 and 2004. This fall, city officials reevaluated parking and traffic plans after a charter school was added and concluded they didn’t need to make changes to the already approved plans. Traffic impacts, they concluded, were less than if office space was built on the property.
The project will include 250 off-street parking spaces in two levels of underground parking.
How does the use of the downtown library compare to our branch libraries?
The city estimates that more than 500,000 people use the current central library annually. Citing experience from other cities that built new main libraries, the city is expecting an uptick in patronage and circulation if the schoobrary opens.
In 2008, branch libraries averaged 162,019 patrons a year with total branch attendance of 5.7 million, according to the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst. This IBA report from February 2009 has plenty more details on how frequently branch libraries are used.
Recently, the IBA released a survey of city residents that showed San Diegans were more concerned about hours and programs at their branch libraries than hours or programs at the main library.
Of course all these numbers should be viewed in the context of decreased operating hours at all libraries, including potentially the schoobrary when it would open.
Was there any mention of the schoobrary in the ballot language when voters approved a $2.1 billion bond for schools in 2008?
Not specifically. The bond language didn’t mention a school in the library, but it stated the district would provide “matching funds to construct classrooms and schools in the downtown area to meet educational needs of the district.” As colleague Emily Alpert wrote in a recent Fact Check, the bond money wasn’t dedicated specifically to a downtown high school.
How do residency requirements related to registered sex offenders’ distance from schools affect the schoobrary proposal?
City municipal code says registered sex offenders cannot be within 300 feet of a library or school or live within 2,000 feet of either. But the code adds that sex offenders aren’t required to move if a library or school is built within 2,000 feet of their home.
State law also bans sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of parks or schools. But how the law applies to sex offenders is the subject of a major debate, which we tried to referee in February.
The broad question being argued in court is whether these residency restrictions are constitutional. No San Diego County agency is enforcing either law until it gets direction from the courts or lawmakers on how to properly apply them. A recent New York Times story about a Bay Area city shows that the law isn’t being enforced there, either.
If you’re thirst for more schoobary news, check out this explainer:
And send me your own questions if that’s not enough.
— LIAM DILLON