News January 31, 2022

Moving forward with 2024 ballot initiative

Patrick Stewart, Library Foundation CEO

by LibraryFoundationSD CEO Patrick Stewart

February 22022

All San Diegans deserve access to quality public spaces. Libraries and parks are essential to creating safe, strong, educated, and thriving communities. For too long, too many communities have not enjoyed the same kind of facilities, programs, or access that other communities enjoy.

That is why the Library Foundation is joining with the San Diego Parks Foundation to seek a permanently restricted revenue source for libraries and parks that would be protected from political whims. Last week, I joined with Parks Foundation Chair Michel Anderson to announce the partners in this effort will gather signatures this year to place the Library and Parks For All” on the November 2024 ballot.

We are excited to announce our November 2024 ballot focus. We only have one chance to gain voter approval to protect and increase funding for San Diego’s libraries and parks. We feel a presidential election year gives us the best opportunity for success and empowers more San Diegans to participate.

Additionally, the 2024 timeframe allows time to complete the Library Master Plan Second Phase and its focus on individual community library needs.

This critical issue affects every San Diego neighborhood. We’ve heard from the community that as many residents as possible should have the opportunity to vote on this transformational vision – and the 2024 presidential election will attract the highest number of voters.

The Libraries and Parks For All community initiative will invest in San Diego’s deteriorating public facilities by fixing long-standing issues and historical inequities that have resulted in some communities having access to fewer educational and recreational opportunities.

Many of San Diego’s libraries and parks are dilapidated, unsafe, and in need of modernization, with recent reports showing inadequate investments in the local park and library systems.

Libraries are suffering from a construction backlog of more than $50 million, and parks need a minimum investment of $200 million just to make the repairs required to meet basic health and safety standards, according to recent assessments. These amounts don’t take into account work necessary to comply with current building code requirements and upgrades that would make facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities.

San Diego invests less per person in its library department than other California cities, with an annual library budget that is less than 70 percent of the state average. And while the City has added more library space over the years, it has not budgeted enough money to sufficiently operate these new facilities. More than half of San Diego’s branch libraries are still smaller than the minimum size recommended by the City’s Library Master Plan, resulting in inequitable access to educational programs and internet service.

The City of San Diego has the second-largest urban parks system in the United States, but parks funding from the City’s operating fund declined by nearly 33 percent between 2005 and 2019.

Every San Diegan deserves access to quality public spaces, and we look forward to taking the next steps to gain voter approval of this initiative.