Are the library closings really secret land deals?

by on November 23, 2008 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Education, San Diego

by Pat Flannery /  Blog of San Diego / November 22, 2008      
Mayor Sanders made an abrupt proposal to summarily close down several libraries. Here is Andrea Tevlin’s much more thoughtful budget cutting proposal. Hers shows a wider perspective and allows for community input.

Tevlin’s recommendation is: “keep these facilities open until a more deliberate and comprehensive plan for facility closures is developed and presented to Council.” She notes that a number of libraries are on Sanders’ closure list and also on his expansion list. Is this just incompetence or something else? If it is incompetence it is really gross incompetence.

Ocean Beach Library Land Deal

Take the Ocean Beach Library for instances. Is Sanders aware that:

“In 2005, the City purchased land adjacent to the Ocean Beach Library for an expansion. According to Council reports at the time, this property is collateral for a HUD Section 108 loan of $2.0 million garnered for the Ocean Beach Library. Loan payments are approximately $223,000 annually through FY 2017 and are being paid from District 2 CDBG allocations.”

Here is the public record, from the Tax Assessor. It confirms the IBA’s findings but does not reveal the sale price from attorney Thomas Bryan to the City. It would take a little more digging to get that. The fact that the City later borrowed $2 million against the property tells nothing of the sale price or the value of the property. The important point is that the City is on the hook for $223,000 per year for that property. They have probably used the $2 million elsewhere by now. They move such money around all the time.

It seems to me that this whole library and park closure business has more to do with secret land deals than balancing the 2008/09 Budget. If Sanders is about anything he is about land deals. It is my guess that somebody wants that OB site. The library lot together with the lot next door would make a perfect mixed-use development. How many of the other library lots chosen for closure would make excellent development opportunities?

It would explain why Sanders is so sore at Andrea Tevlin. Is she spoiling a well-laid plan? Her recommendations make all the sense in the world. She says: “we are recommending a comprehensive facility plan addressing proposed closures along with proposed openings be brought to Council by February 2009 in order to prepare for the future.” Sanders was very scathing about that suggestion. Why? His demeaning remarks about Tevlin brought public protests from Councilmembers Atkins and Young.

Sanders argues that because of a slight delay, Tevlin’s recommendations would result in a short-term “cost”. He failed to mention that she has offset the “cost” of this delay by raiding two of his pet projects, a BPR (outsourcing) surplus and the allocation of Transient Occupancy Tax revenue (promotional expenditure for his hotel friends). Look at the attachment to her Report to Council. Sanders’ is a very weak argument.

The best thing that came out of the new “Strong Mayor” form of government was IBA Andrea Tevlin. We are immensely lucky to have her. Let’s hope the City Council votes to support her sensible recommendations over the very suspicious proposals of Sanders on Monday November 24, 2008.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar OB Joe November 23, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Point here is important but it does seem stretched.

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avatar dougbob November 24, 2008 at 4:32 am

are there other deals with other library properties? that would be significant.

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avatar Wireless Mike November 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Mayor Sanders has consistently shown that he is controlled by land developers. Mr. Flannery’s allegation fits Sanders’ style to a tee. I wonder who Sanders may have promised the land to? What would be built there? Would it exceed the 30 foot limit using Density Bonus incentives? We should at least consider this as a possible ulterior motive behind the whitewash of “budget cuts”.

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