On Sunday, the Union-Tribune surveyed other major cities who have built giant new main libraries (including Salt Lake City, whose library has captured my own admiration).
It was a glowing foreshadowing of the kind of inspirational public space we’re supposed to be getting excited for.
But Randy Dotinga, who you know as the Morning Report’s regular steward, made a good observation yesterday. Seattle’s Central Library is open four days of the week until 8 p.m. and until 6 p.m. the other three days. San Diego’s central library, on the other hand, is actually closed on Saturdays and four other days of the week, it closes at or before 5:30.
Unless something dramatic changes, library hours across San Diego will only get chopped more in coming years.
San Diego’s decay under the strain of a chronic budget deficit is becoming more evident by the month — now punctuated by the choking death of a toddler while fire crews were delayed.
But the deadline is fast approaching to confront voters with something that might change the trajectory of the municipal decline — whether it’s a sales tax increase or something addressing costs. Maybe Mayor Jerry Sanders will simply take a stand against that tax hike and offer a better plan in its place. Whatever Sanders does now, reporter Liam Dillon calls this his “fleeting moment.” The election is the last scheduled vote before people will be campaigning to replace the mayor and this time in history might be “the line between Sanders-as-leader and Sanders-as-lame-duck.”
In other news:
• As Dillon highlighted in that piece, the mayor has gotten a succession of broad mandates from voters — most recently when they decided to make permanent the strong mayor form of government. Voters also decided at the same time that the city should have nine council seats.
San Diego’s Asian community is already organizing to lobby for creation of a ninth City Council district that would encompass many North City neighborhoods including Mira Mesa and Rancho Peñasquitos — areas with large and growing Asian populations.
• Today is the day the City Council will decide whether to actually put a half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot. The mayor has said he does not want them to. And they will have to muster six votes to do it. The key today will be to see what Councilwoman Sherri Lightner decides. Though she’s a Democrat elected with heavy support from labor unions, she has taken a few fiscally conservative stands. Meanwhile, Councilman Carl DeMaio, the taxpayers association, the Lincoln Club and local Republican leaders are trying to organize a rally today against the increase.
• The City Council will also be considering closing a loophole in the beach booze ban that would make it illegal to host these “Floatopia” parties where young imbibers simply float in the water, where drinking is still allowed. If you missed it, the eloquent partiers provided San Diego with yet another proud appearance in the Wall Street Journal.
• In commentary, Aaron Contorer, the founder and chairman of the Equinox Center, writes that it is time for a “local water movement.” Like push toward consuming locally cultivated food, the local water movement would energize the effort to tap more local water sources. Currently, we import 80 percent of the region’s water.
“For economic, environmental and water-security reasons, this is neither an optimal nor a sustainable solution to meet the water demands of our region,” Contorer writes. The commentary is a follow up to the Equinox Center’s release of a report on the value of recycling sewage to create more potable local sources of water.
For background, we broke down what happens to San Diego’s wastewater and what the idea is to turn it into something more valuable in this edition of San Diego Explained.
• USC’s student online news source, Neon Tommy, has an interview up with a police sergeant about the stabbing at Comic-Con.
• The Union-Tribune has a transportation writer. Who knew? His name is Robert Hawkins and he says that the state has scheduled five public meetings to discuss the environmental impacts of an expansion of the 5. The first one is tomorrow from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center, Room 142.
• Good grief. The voice of Charlie Brown has been living in Oceanside all this time and we didn’t even know it.
• The hits keep coming from the Tri-City Healthcare District: “A year and a half after opening a large fitness center and medical office building in Carlsbad, Tri-City Healthcare District is trying to shed the expensive lease after suffering an unprecedented $18 million loss in the past year.” (UT)
• Finally, I had the pleasure of spending some time in Encinitas on Sunday morning surfing. As we left, we saw this (story via the Union-Tribune) — the latest, boldest and most creative public defacement of the “Cardiff Kook” statue. Someone has put up a huge papier-maché shark about to devour the surfer statue. It was an impressive overnight feat.
To catch up: A couple of years ago, to honor the area’s surfing history, Cardiff leaders commissioned a statue. But when it was unveiled, many surfers revolted. The U-T says it was because they don’t think the statue is macho enough.
But it’s not that it’s not macho. The statue is just weird.
Public angst about it has now stirred creative juices. To me, there are few things more inspiring than spontaneous public art. If it takes tacky public art to provoke it, so be it.
— SCOTT LEWIS