If the City plans to spend $150,000 replacing OB Library roof, does this mean it won’t be closed?

by on March 20, 2009 · 13 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Ocean Beach, San Diego

City plans to spend $150,000 to replace OB Library's roof.

OCEAN BEACH, CA.  The Union-Tribune reported today that the Ciy of San Diego is borrowing $103 million for a slew of repair projects, which include a sum of $150,000 to replace the roof of the Ocean Beach branch library. If the City is about to replace the 80 year old building’s roof, that probably means we don’t have to worry about its closure during the next round of budget crisis maneuvering. Doesn’t it?

As we know, the OB branch was slated to be one of the 7 libraries Mayor Jerry Sanders wanted  last October to close in order to meet budgetary short-falls.  Community reactions – especially in Ocean Beach – but all over the City gave Councilmembers enough backbone to block Sanders’ proposed gutting of the libraries.

I called the OB Library to see if Matt Beatty – the librarian – had additional news. And of course, being Friday, OB’s library doesn’t open until 12:30 in the afternoon.  Geez! We can’t afford any more hour reductions, that’s for sure.

After leaving a voice messge for the U-T’s reporter, I called Councilmember Kevin Faulconer’s District 2 office for more info on the replacement job.  His Communications Director Tony Manolatos sent me an email:

The City plans to get bids this summer for all the work included in the $103 million infrastructure bonds. When the work will begin is not definite, although the City plans to begin construction after the rainy season.

The roof replacement is expected to last 4-6 months. The library is expected to remain open during this time. The repairs were included in the infrastructure bond plans because there have been issues with the roof.

So, there ya go.

But, trully, if the City is going to go through the bidding and contracting process to replace the roof, it appears the City is at least moving in the direction of keeping the building intact.  Maybe keeping our library branch open is another story.  But a new roof does give us ammunition during the next budget crisis.

Yet, we do have to be careful. We should not and cannot accept any more reductions in our library’s hours or staffing.  Watch for this end run around the issue of keeping the doors ajar. Even though many OB residents have expressed a willingness to volunteer at the library in order to keep it open, this is not a community versus city employee battle.  Librarians are not like Starbucks evaporistas, temp workers coming and going. Librarians are certified professionals. Like Matt Beatty. Volunteers can help – but they cannot replace our librarians.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

jon March 20, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I don’t get it. They’re gonna close the library! They’re going to cut back hours! They can’t keep these programs going!

They’re going to spend $150,000 to replace the roof?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that the roof will be replaced, assuming it needs replacing. You said it, keeping the building intact and keeping the library open are two very different things. We should all be watching closely.


lane tobias March 20, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I agree with Jon, this doesn’t do anything except give us more firepower to fight a closure. Unfortunately on the other end a new roof gives the building more value in a sale or lease. Could be both good and bad at the same time. You would think, however, that the city wouldn’t put 150 K (which seems like a lot for a new roof) into a building unless it was to be kept open.

I’m sure this is not the last time this question will come up.


doug porter March 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

the mayor was quoted today on voice of san diego saying that library cuts are off the table. i recall he said something about hearing the will of the people!


Frank Gormlie March 20, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Doug – thanks for the heads-up.


Shawn Conrad March 20, 2009 at 2:36 pm

They want to make the roof stronger for the McDonalds they will put there. If it comes between books and fast food, our nation may sadly choose fast food.

Spending tons of money should in no way be a fasle hope for governments (local or federal) doing the right thing. From the track record of the city government, they will tear it down two days after the roof gets completed.


OBbob March 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm

But I thought that they were going to build a brand new OB Library. Unless of course the current roof can’t just be repaired, why spend all that money and just rip off in a couple of years?



annagrace March 22, 2009 at 11:16 am

Do you know that the complete renovation of the OB library is on the Sandag project list which was submitted to the federal government to show the region’s readiness to use economic stimulus funds? The OB and Balboa Library rebuilds are on the list of projects ready to go in 12 months. These libraries may not make the final cut- the list shows readiness.
The info on economic stimulus projects is currently “down” on the sandag site, but check out the latest. http://www.sandag.cog.ca.us/index.asp?fuseaction=home.home

Someone ready to report back on this?


Neighbor Guy March 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I’ve got to agree with lane tobias, $150K seems like an obscene amount of money to replace a roof…


Frank Gormlie March 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Okay, everyone; I’ve contacted Councilmember Faulconer’s office with the feedback that $150K sounds expensive; they are checking on this for me and I will repeat whatever info I receive.


Kathy Blavatt March 24, 2009 at 5:12 am

The council had approved the original bond with the new OB Library roof before and within a couple weeks Sander’s still put it on the closure list.

Anyone know what two libraries and two fire stations are on the loan garantee? Is OB Library one of them? With the state of the econonmy, and the BAD state of the cities finances, it might be important to know.


annagrace March 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Kathy- Last year the City wanted to issue bonds and didn’t. At that time the Malcolm X and Scripps Ranch library were being used as collateral. It would be good to know which facilities are on the list this time.


Neighbor Guy March 26, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Methinks the need for a new roof (by my incredibly rough guesstimate $15-50K for something to last 30-40 years) is what originally got Sanders to add OB to his list of closures, looking at which libraries were going to be more costly to run in the short term rather than which the community utilized, and thus valued, the most. Once the federal funds came up, he porked up the project and threw it up as a ready use for any money SD could grab. The fact that he had been backed into a corner politically over his stab at the ill-advised closure attempt could now be forgotten was an added bonus.


Gus Hollenbeck March 28, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Libraries are the heart and soul of any community. Once you cut out the heart what is left? It is truly disappointing that these institutions would be jeopardized at any expense. But speaking of expenses…Let us start looking at these. Roofs for 150K? WTF? Just like when we are talking about the cost of schools..We start discussing asthetics first? Lets please, please get back to the basics and fast..No wall to wall carpeting replaced every two years, etc..Let’s get good teachers and teaching tools..Not murals and grassy outfields for the baseball teams at a cost of hundreds of thousands..when i grew up I had to walk 5 miles one way up hill both ways…. :) but seriously, basics are basics..We need a real leader for a change.


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