Statement: “In the last decade, average weekly library hours decreased from 48 to 36; average weekly recreation center hours decreased from 62.5 to 40; firefighters per 100,000 City residents decreased from 80 to 71; police officers per 100,000 City residents decreased from 166 to 158; and the average wait time to answer 911 calls increased from four seconds to 10 seconds,” City Councilman Todd Gloria wrote in support of Proposition D, the sales-tax increase before voters, in an editorial published Sept. 11 by sandiegonewsroom.com.
Determination: Mostly True
Analysis: OK, let’s take a deep breath and digest those numbers. In the past decade, the city has cut library, recreation and emergency services to save money.
Most of the specific numbers cited by Gloria came from this report by the city’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, which compared city services provided in 2001 and 2009.
Gloria’s statement accurately reflected the numbers from the IBA report and updated the reduction to library hours. For more current numbers on firefighters and police officers, check out these two blog posts.
We’ve called Gloria’s statement mostly true because there’s an important nuance to consider about the last statistic. While city officials attribute the other reductions to budget cuts, police say the proliferation of cell phones contributed to the dramatic rise in 911 wait times.
Emergency calls from cell phones in San Diego used to be routed to the California Highway Patrol. In 2002, the city took over calls within its limits and the California Highway Patrol kept calls near the highways. That technological shift spiked the number of calls to city dispatchers and wait times.
However, it’s worth noting that wait times returned to an average of four seconds during the last six months. Asst. Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who oversees police communications, said the department moved dispatcher shifts to better cover the busiest hours.
If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.
You can also e-mail new Fact Check suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. What claim should we explore next?