Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office released new details today about the cuts to the city’s public art program he first proposed in September.

It proposes suspending 15 projects in the pipeline:

• Seven projects for which the city hasn’t yet secured an artist would be suspended entirely through the end of fiscal year 2012, including fire stations in Hillcrest, Mid-City and Mission Valley. Those would save the city $675,000, according to the mayor’s report.

• Five projects that have already selected artists will finish out the phases they’re in, then pause until the end of fiscal year 2012. Those projects include the weirdly named “Ocean Beach Comfort Station” (showers, bike racks), lifeguard towers in La Jolla Shores and South Mission Beach, a fire station in Point Loma and a library in Mission Hills. Suspending the rest of these projects will save the city $85,000, the Mayor’s Office reported.

• Three projects for which the artists have already finished their designs and had them approved — but are waiting for funding to build and install their art pieces — will be suspended through the end of fiscal year 2012. That category includes the new central library (known around here as the schoobrary). The Mayor’s Office says suspending these projects would save $830,000.

The city’s chief operating officer, Jay Goldstone, shared the report with the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee today. The committee endorsed the report and it will go next before the full City Council.

City policy requires 2 percent of the cost of construction for city projects like fire stations, libraries, pump stations and lifeguard stations be spent on public art projects. Faced with budget cuts to public safety and other core city services, the mayor wants to suspend those expenditures.

The mayor’s proposal does not touch art budgeted from redevelopment funds, meaning a Little Italy fire station will still get its $190,000 public art, NBC San Diego’s Gene Cubbison reported this evening.

Goldstone included a special note about the central library, the most substantial city project that the suspension affects. The library project is waiting on $20 million to be raised for its construction.

It is proposed that Public Art expenditures for the Central Library project be suspended until either the entire fund raising goal is attained or through fiscal year 2012, whichever occurs earlier.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. You can contact me directly at or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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