Disappointing Turnout From OB at City Committee Budget Meeting

by on February 25, 2009 · 5 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Ocean Beach, Organizing

OBceans rally at foot of Newport Ave. in support of the OB Library, Oct. 15, 2008. (photo: Patty Jones)

No Representatives from the Friends of OB Library, Historical Society, Town Council, or Mainstreet Association at Hearing

There was a disappointing turnout of Ocean Beach residents and businesspeople today at the City’s Budget and Finance Committee hearing. There was literally two OB residents present at this morning’s meeting.  The Clairemont  library had a number of supporters, plus sitting in the back of the large room were organizers from the city-wide library coalition-in-forming.

The meeting, part of a series of 5 community-input hearings set up by Councilmember Tony Young and the Mayor’s office, was held in the Committee room on the 12th floor of City Hall downtown San Diego.  It was the only hearing scheduled in the morning during the workweek – the rest were set up in four Council Districts either at night or on Saturdays.  Councilmember Kevin Faulconer representing OB’s District 2 sits on the Committee, as does Councilmembers Young, DeMiao and Gloria.

The poor showing from Ocean Beach was downplayed by the city-wide organizers who have been pleased with the attendance at the other hearings. (For some reason Districts 1, 2, 6 and 8 did not have hearings in their districts.)

Yet, the presence of only two people from Ocean Beach at the hearing – despite pleas and announcements from organizers, this blog and others for over a month – does not bode well for our community.  No leadership from the OB Historical Society nor from the Friends of the OB Library were there. No one from the OB Town Council or from the Mainstreet Association were in the room.  There was one recent member of the Friends and this reporter from this blog, that’s it.

In contrast, the community had turned out in mass back last fall when Mayor Sanders first placed the OB branch library on the budgetary chopping block.  The community’s overwhelming response had spurned Faulconer to take a leading role in ensuring cut-backs do not touch the libraries.

At this morning’s hearing, Mr. Faulconer was very adamant about keeping the OB and Clairemont branches open, and stating very pointedly that during hard times, libraries are needed even more.

There is one more meeting that OBceans and other City residents can attend: tomorrow, Thursday Feb. 26th, from 6 to 8 pm at Lewis Middle School at 5170 Greenbrier Avenue in the 92110 zip area – in District 7.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar r hoobler February 25, 2009 at 7:19 pm

that’ll show ya! the major is right. i say let’s close the library; obviously the people in OB don’t really support it. i say we sell the property and open a fast food restaurant there.


avatar emw February 25, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Hey Frank – I had a similar feeling last week when District 3 had their meeting. I went with some library supporters and employees. Although City Heights was well represented, nobody came from the friends groups for North Park, University Heights OR Kensington-Normal Heights, the mayor’s very own branch library.

Part of that is all library employees are kind of feeling like they are under pressure from the higher-ups to keep in line. Part of it is apathy, I guess. Part of it is just people feeling like there is no use talking about it because they’ve already made up their minds on what they’ll do.

The disappointing thing for me as a library employee is that I work in a building that houses the Umbrella Friends of The Library. This is the main headquarters for the Friends of the Library in the city. We also have the local University Heights Friends of the Library for our individual branch. How can they seriously be FRIENDS of the library when they don’t show up to support us? Especially when library employees are feeling so overwhelmed by what we can and can’t say.

But seriously… Ocean Beach people not showing up… Now that’s heartbreaking. Out of all the communities in San Diego, we depend on the OBceans to kick out the jams!

If you care about your library and want to do the right thing, please make an effort to get out to Lewis Middle School at 6:00. I’ll be there. Will you?



avatar annagrace February 25, 2009 at 9:17 pm

THE POWER OF SHOWING UP- HEY OB- Frank Gormlie carried all you OB library supporters on his shoulders today at the Finance and Budget Committee community input meeting.(yay Frank!) Library supporters from Clairmont and OB, who comprised the majority of “citizen input” at this morning’s meeting, spoke after formal presentations by the San Diego Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce. Not surprisingly, the Chamber urged the council to embrace the business practices of the private sector in conducting City operations. They urged the City to embrace the principles of “highest and best use.” Frank said that public services- libraries and park and recreation are NOT businesses and should not be operated as businesses. What a refreshing thought!

I know that you all would have turned out en masse to a meeting in your district, and I know there will be a meeting in your district next year because you said this is important.
But what about this year? I’m going to take the number 14 bus to the community input meeting tomorrow night. I’ll be there. Will you?

and maybe r hoobler is on to something- a restaurant is a “higher and best” use of land occupied by the OB library!


avatar solutions February 26, 2009 at 12:00 am

There is an easy solution to the City’s 54 million dollar deficit. Eliminate the corporate tax shelter of CCDC and magically downtown would actually pay taxes for services like the rest of us. Over 100 million sitting in a developer’s sandbox. Get rid of it and we can keep our libraries and our parks and fire rings and trash pickup at sunset cliffs. Common sense, so close and yet so far. I say we all show up and demand they drop it like a bad habit. Who’s in?


avatar Frank Gormlie February 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Library supporters: I wanted to share an email I received from Anna Daniels, who is on our staff, but who is also the central organizer for a Coalition-in-forming around the libraries. Here it is:

Betty, Jim, Terry & Frank- Thank you for taking the time to speak at this morning’s meeting. This meeting was very different than the ones held previously in the council districts. In those other instances, the mayor addresses the group, describes the economy as bad, the citizens as unwilling to accept service cuts nor willing to accept fees. The mayor will then suggest that the labor unions and city employees with their pensions and benefits are pretty much to blame for the budget mess. The mayor then leaves. Tony Young, the chair of the Budget and Finance committee asks people to fill out the survey and make their comments. These meetings last around three hours. See what you all missed?

We all got something completely different today- formal presentations from the Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce. I hope you noticed that library advocates were the only citizen input group. Your presence was extremely important. It was noted by the council representatives and their staff. Kevin Faulconer and his staff were particularly courteous in bumping us to the head of the comments list. Tony Young also wanted to accommodate us. You were able to present information that had not been given in the other sessions- Jim- you spoke about the library ordinance and the impact of doing so; Frank, you emphasized that public services are not businesses and that the distinction is important; Betty and Terry- you both emphasized the importance of youth services, the proximity to schools and the need for a permanent assigned youth services librarian at Clairmont.

It does not take hundreds of us to make a difference at this moment. It takes a handful of articulate, committed people to show up at each one of these meetings repeating the same message, with our unique perspectives and voices, about the importance of libraries and our unwillingness to sustain further cuts to the library system.

The last meeting is tomorrow night. A few people from both Ocean Beach and Clairmont will be there. Allied Gardens library advocates will definitely be there. I will be there, and Sandy will no doubt show up even though she was sicker than a dog today. (Sandy is from University Community and has been leading the advocacy effort.)

I will send out a library blast this weekend and share some thoughts on what lies ahead. Frank Gormlie, who spoke today, suggested holding a coalition strategy meeting with whoever wants to attend.

Because I have been working across the city with different advocacy groups, I have come to learn about the tremendous support, the tremendous financial support, that all of you provide to the libraries. University Community, Clairmont, Ocean Beach- you have provided materials, summer reading program support, equipment, landscaping. Library supporters should never feel like beggars at the table. Look at how much you bring to the library’s operating budget! And that does not even address the amount of volunteer hours you have given.

There is more to come. Please call me or email with your ideas and concerns. If you are concerned about the lack of permanent staff at your library (youth services librarians, branch managers, clerks, etc) please write to Library Director Deborah Barrow, and cc your council person and the mayor.


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