Mayor Sanders highlights full funding in State of City address
By Anthony King | Downtown News
In Mayor Jerry Sanders’s State of the City address on Jan. 11, Sanders announced the San Diego Central Library construction project was now fully funded. The $185 million project came up short in funds twice. Initially, the City approved the project in 2010 despite a $32 million discrepancy. Then, the San Diego Public Library Foundation, which was responsible for raising the necessary funds, ended their campaign in December 2011 $15 million short of their goal.
An anonymous donor guaranteed the necessary $15 million, but this person or organization was not mentioned directly in Sanders’s speech and has yet to come forward.
Of the $185 million needed for the project, $80 million is being supplied by the San Diego Centre City Development Corporation. Both the California State Library system and the San Diego Unified School District are matching $20 million each for the project, leaving over 35 percent, or approximately $65 million, coming from private donations.
The San Diego Public Library Foundation says this is the highest level of private support ever for a public library capital project anywhere outside of New York City.
“I’m delighted to announce tonight, that because of the generosity of so many San Diegans, we are able to move forward and complete construction,” Sanders said in his address, which took place at the Balboa Theatre in downtown. Calling the project “on time and under budget,” Sanders said the project is now “fully funded without a nickel of General Fund money.”
San Diego Public Library Foundation Chair Mel Katz said, “This is truly a public [and] private partnership and 38.5 percent of the project’s total funding comes from generous San Diegans.”
Katz, who was acknowledged in Sanders’s State of the City address along with past Foundation Chair Judith Harris, said the Foundation would continue its fundraising efforts for an endowment, special programming and an enhanced library collection.
In March 2011, Harris told a City Council committee she was confident in the Foundation’s ability to raise the necessary funds. “We’ve met every other challenge. We plan on meeting this challenge,” she said at the time. Concern was raised that if the Foundation came up short on its goal, taxpayers would end up making up the difference.
In his Jan. 11 State of the City address, Sanders said, “A building of architectural distinction and unmistakable importance, the Central Library is a shining example of what can be accomplished even in the worst of economies if you have faith in San Diego and its people.”
Sanders then introduced Harris and Katz, who received a standing ovation from the crowd.
“Our city will celebrate the day the Central Library opens for business,” Sanders said, “but its true success will come each time a child walks inside to do her homework, or check out a book, or use its reading rooms, or when she attends an education program on the ninth floor and looks across the bay to the horizon, knowing she lives in a city that so proudly and prominently values learning and knowledge.”