That slim San Diego City Council majority in favor of the new $185 million downtown schoobrary just got a little more complicated.

A council super majority — or six votes — will be needed to pass one of the 13 items related to the schoobrary’s final approval when it comes to full council on June 28.

That means one of the project’s three opponents — Council Members Sherri Lightner, Carl DeMaio or Donna Frye — will have to vote yes or else risk $20 million in project funding.

The item is not the main construction contract, but a contract extension with the project’s architectural and engineering firms, Rob Wellington Quigley and Tucker Sadler.

If the council vote breakdown doesn’t change, the city could approve the schoobrary’s construction, but have to seek bids for a new architect before work could start.

A $20 million state grant requires the city to begin construction by Aug. 1 — less than two months from now — and the city likely wouldn’t have enough time to contract with a new architect by then.

Amy Benjamin, the mayoral policy advisor handling the schoobrary, wasn’t sure how a failure to approve the architectural contract would affect the state grant.

“We don’t know at this time,” Benjamin said. “We know that it could cause a delay in construction.”

It’s not without precedent that a council opponent would switch sides to keep the schoobrary alive. Frye voted in favor of spending $500,000 to see a new schoobrary cost estimate in October. Frye said she wanted to see the price tag before making a final decision on the project.

A City Council committee Wednesday morning voted unanimously, with Council President Ben Hueso absent, to forward schoobrary construction to the full council.


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