by Jon Christensen
After a career in public finance I know how common it is for Libraries and Parks to be among the first sacrificial offerings at the budget alter. Please consider these few facts; There is no “temporary” closure of a branch; a branch closed is a branch erased. Book stock will mildew and rot if not properly stored – and they won’t be, why bother. The building, currently an asset for the city and the neighborhood, will become blight if left abandoned and that’s the plan. Property values in the neighborhood will be pulled down by the loss of this asset while the deteriorating building becomes a liability for the city, increasing insurance costs. You’ll realize this of course and conclude you might as well sell. Do you want to sell real estate in this market?
The same is true for Parks. Close a park and it will rot, become blight and pull down the surrounding neighborhood, further aggravating the cities revenue situation. And by making this choice you will be harming the very core, the very reason why you, the city, exists – for the people, for the neighborhoods. You are being asked to make responsible priorities based on current realities. Consider law enforcement; Crime rate is down, across the nation and in San Diego; Prop. D was approved, furthering lowering the demand for police. You can run a Branch Library for what it costs to field 3 patrol officers; operate a community park for even less. It’s been reported that Safety members doing administrative functions have been returned to field duty. A good first step. By freezing the Police positions the city loses through normal attrition and retirements in just two months, this can provide the funding slated to be cut from the Libraries and Parks. Then again, reducing council staff to the level of about 1980 could also provide the funding. Prioritizing is difficult.