News February 28, 2022

The State of San Diego’s Libraries and Parks

Do they make the grade?

San Diego’s libraries and parks are a tale of two cities. That was the message at last night’s State of San Diego Libraries and Parks event I participated in with San Diego Parks Foundation Chair Michel Anderson, moderated by Voice of San Diego reporter Lisa Halverstadt.

Some San Diego communities enjoy large, well-appointed, well-maintained libraries and parks. While other locations, often in traditionally underserved neighborhoods, lag with smaller, aging facilities, fewer amenities, and inadequate funding.

Lisa Halverstadt asked Michel and me to give the parks and library systems a letter grade. This inequity led me to give the San Diego Public Library system two grades. Our libraries deserve an A+ for what staff can accomplish with limited resources and often inadequate facilities. But, I give the library system’s facilities a C for uneven conditions and a lack of funding for programs that fully meet community needs. Michel concurred that some city parks are diamonds” while other communities have waited twenty years or longer for upgrades.

According to recent assessments, libraries suffer from a construction backlog of more than $50 million. Parks need a minimum investment of $200 million to make the repairs required to meet basic health and safety standards.

Our discussion covered some solutions to these inequalities with a new Parks Master Plan now adopted and the Library Foundation and city working on completing a Library Master Plan that details the needs of each local library. Michel and I talked about the library and parks foundations’ cooperative effort to seek a permanently restricted revenue source for libraries and parks through a November 2024 ballot initiative.

I hope you can watch this discussion. Feel free to email me with any questions or if you would like information on how you can get involved.

Also, you can see KUSI’s coverage of the event here.