Statement: “You see library hours cut across the city since 2002, some branches losing one-third of their hours,” Carl DeMaio said at a mayoral candidate forum Feb. 10.
Analysis: DeMaio’s populist campaign strategy has pitted him against some of San Diego’s most established political forces from the left and right.
He argues the city has floundered under their influence and voters should elect him to pave a drastically new course. To back up the argument that conditions have worsened in recent years, DeMaio often cites a diminishing quality of numerous city functions.
He bemoans progressively bumpier roads, bureaucratic red tape, higher water fees and stressed emergency response times. At a forum last week, he also talked about libraries.
“You see library hours cut across the city since 2002, some branches losing one-third of their hours,” DeMaio said. “We cannot continue to have that same system … and that’s what my candidacy is all about.”
Because DeMaio cited a significant reduction in library hours to bolster a core theme of his candidacy, we decided it merited a Fact Check.
I pulled an archived version of the city’s website from March 2002 and compared it with a current version. Both described operating hours for each branch library, providing numerous data points for a historical review.
My analysis showed 19 branch libraries have had their weekly operating hours cut by nearly one-third or more since 2002, backing up DeMaio’s claim. Seven branches have had their hours nearly cut in half over the period.
Overall, the average city library was open about 53 hours a week in 2002 and is open less than 37 hours a week now. The list below shows how operating hours across the library system have declined.
Since DeMaio’s figure accurately reflects how operating hours have fallen at some branch libraries and contains no significant caveats, we’ve rated it True. If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post.
If you’re interested in reading more about how library hours have recently declined, I recommend checking out this graphic I created last year or this new report by the city’s Independent Budget Analyst.
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