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HurricaneHugo Jun 29, 2010 6:02 AM

Glad the City Council approved it!

See what things happen when Aguirre is gone!

sandiegodweller Jun 29, 2010 3:07 PM

When the Pony Express rider first alerted me that the library was approved, I jumped into my horse and buggy and rode down to the local telegraph office. I made sure to let all the homeless people and latchkey kids that they would have a place to hang out!

On a serious note, who will actually travel to downtown to go to this library? The system already has branches throughout the county. Will someone from outside of downtown bypass their local branch to go here (the outskirts of East Village civilization)?

I understand civic pride but this seems like a strange project to showcase it. It will serve a tiny fraction of the county.

Also, I am not belittleing the fundraising efforts. I know that they did a good job in a tough economic time.

Mark my words, this thing will get partially built and then run into budget problems. It will be finished half-assed and partially staffed. Within a few years it will resemble the exisiting library.

It will be ironinc when they have to upgarde their wi-fi service in a few years to accomodate people reading on their ipads, kindles and phones.

brantw Jun 29, 2010 4:34 PM

High-end downtown hotel files for bankruptcy
What a surprise!

Burdened by crushing debt, the owner of the high-end boutique hotel Sè San Diego has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The move by 5th Avenue Partners, which owns and operates the 184-room hotel, was designed to prevent the hotel’s main lender WestLB AB Bank from appointing a receiver Monday to take over the company’s assets. As of May, Fifth Avenue Partners owed the German-based lender some $73 million.

The downtown hotel, which opened in December 2008, has struggled mightily in its short existence — a casualty of bad timing and a moribund market for luxury hotels. Cost overruns, lawsuits and construction delays all meant the project, which also includes 23 upscale — and unsold — condos, opened a year behind schedule and during one of the bleakest months of the spiraling economy.

The hotel’s three-year construction loan came due in May 2009 — just five months after it had opened — and drum-tight credit markets made it impossible to refinance the loan.

Robert Rauch, a local hotel consultant, said the Sè’s troubles are hardly surprising. Not only was the hotel located far from the hub of the Gaslamp, but it also was an unknown quantity — making it a hard sell for many travelers.

“It was a property that had an inferior location and no brand and a huge amount of debt in a terrible market,” he said.

Of course, the Sè’s not alone in its struggles. Last year, owners of the W Hotel walked away from the property after determining that it was worth much less than what they owed.

While the reasons for its troubles are clear, the hotel’s future is a bit more murky, said Alan Reay, president of the Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group. The bankruptcy could drag on as each side tries to demonstrate to the judge that it has a better plan to operate the hotel.

For its part, Fifth Avenue Partners said in a statement that it is continuing to negotiate with its lenders during the bankruptcy process.

On Monday, the judge overseeing the case said Fifth Avenue could use its cash to continue to pay its 224 employees. The company had argued that any lapse in payment would lead to staff defections and negatively impact service.

“The hotel business is very competitive and one of the most important variables that customers weigh when choosing a hotel is the level and quality of service,” the filing said.

In the filing, Fifth Avenue said it has substantial revenue and estimated it would make almost $4.7 million over the next 13 weeks. It also estimated that its payroll for that same time frame would be around $1.9 million and its other expenses, like food and beverage costs, would be $2.5 million.

While the hotel does have relatively strong revenue, Reay said it’s unclear what the Sè is worth as the unsold luxury condos confuse its evaluation. Looking at the amount Fifth Avenue Partners owes its main lender, he estimated that the hotel rooms alone cost about $364,000 per unit.

The hotel market is seeing signs of life, Reay added, pointing to recent sales of high-end hotels in cities such as San Francisco where price ranges have ranged from $200,000 to $350,000 per room.

Rauch said the property will eventually be worth more than the loan but it’s unclear when that will happen. He estimated it could be as soon as two years but as long as five.

Derek Jun 29, 2010 9:25 PM


Originally Posted by mongoXZ (Post 4894469)
Did I read this correctly? Our city council approved to break ground on the new library? O-------M--------G!!

City leaders plan to break ground next month on a new $185 million main library in downtown San Diego despite concerns that the project could leave taxpayers on the hook should private donors fail to raise enough money to pay for it.

The City Council voted 6-2 Monday to move forward with library construction under the promise that a fundraising campaign will be able to collect the additional $32.5 million needed to finish the job. If donors don’t emerge, the city would have to either use taxpayer money to fill the gap or leave the library’s interior unfinished.

The financial risk to taxpayers was the chief concern among opponents, including former City Attorney Michael Aguirre, who questioned the wisdom of committing to a brand-new library when the city has been forced to make significant cuts to public safety, parks, beach maintenance and existing libraries. But it wasn’t enough to dissuade a council majority from proceeding.

Library supporters, including former Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, who has pledged $20 million to the project, promised the money would be raised to complete the project. While the city is taking a $32.5 million risk, they said the city would lose $80 million in outside money committed to the project if it didn’t approve the plan Monday.

Former professional basketball player Bill Walton, a San Diego native whose mother had a 21-year career as a city librarian, said there is no greater mission and no grander goal than building a new library.

“The argument against this library is that it’s too expense and that we can’t afford it,” Walton said. “In reality, we can’t afford not to do this. We can either start building this library today or start building prisons tomorrow.”

Aguirre, who lost a re-election bid in 2008, said the city doesn’t have enough money to keep its current libraries open and questioned whether it was legal for the city to start construction on a project that wasn’t fully funded. He also criticized Jacobs for his donation, a comment that drew boos from the crowd.

“You’re hurting our city because you are helping to push this city into doing something that is financially irresponsible just like you did with the ticket guarantee,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre was referring to the city’s past deal with the Chargers that called for taxpayers to ensure the sale of 60,000 seats for the team’s home games at Qualcomm Stadium. The deal cost the city $36.4 million between 1995 and 2003.

The new library would be built at the corner of Park Boulevard and J Street in the East Village. It would be a nine-story domed centerpiece and twice the size of the existing 1954 library on E Street. Two floors would be used for a charter school serving about 400 students.

Funding for the library would come from several sources, including $80 million in city redevelopment funds, $20 million from the San Diego Unified School District and a $20 million state grant.

The rest would be covered by private donors, who have already pledged nearly $41 million. That includes $10 million to pay for the library’s operating costs for the first five years.

The city has enough money for the first phase of the library but needs an additional $32.5 million by January 2012 to start the second and final phase. The library is projected to open in July 2013.

Council members Carl DeMaio and Sherri Lightner voted against the project, saying the city couldn’t afford to build a central library at a time when the 35 branch libraries have seen their hours reduced significantly because of budget cuts.

“I’m afraid this project contains too many risks to our city’s general fund, too many shoes that may drop,” DeMaio said. “We cannot afford to build this project at this time. We have to get our city’s financial problems fixed first. We have to make sure that when we invest in our library system that all branches benefit equally.”

The project needed six votes for approval and Frye, who had opposed the library in the past, provided the swing vote to win passage. She didn’t explain her vote during the hearing.

Craig Gustafson: (619) 293-1399;; follow Craig on Twitter at @gustafsoncraig


This is great news!

S.DviaPhilly Jun 29, 2010 11:38 PM


Originally Posted by sandiegodweller (Post 4895051)
When the Pony Express rider first alerted me that the library was approved, I jumped into my horse and buggy and rode down to the local telegraph office. I made sure to let all the homeless people and latchkey kids that they would have a place to hang out!

On a serious note, who will actually travel to downtown to go to this library? The system already has branches throughout the county. Will someone from outside of downtown bypass their local branch to go here (the outskirts of East Village civilization)?

I understand civic pride but this seems like a strange project to showcase it. It will serve a tiny fraction of the county.

Also, I am not belittleing the fundraising efforts. I know that they did a good job in a tough economic time.

Mark my words, this thing will get partially built and then run into budget problems. It will be finished half-assed and partially staffed. Within a few years it will resemble the exisiting library.

It will be ironinc when they have to upgarde their wi-fi service in a few years to accomodate people reading on their ipads, kindles and phones.

The funding for the project has been raised, the rest of the monies needed is to fill the library once completed. The construction company said if costs go up they will cover it. Also there is enough money to run the library for 5 years once complete.
I understand some of your points, but thats whats wrong with this city, an AMAZING project passes and people find a way to trash it and find the negatives. Why would you assume the homeless would come down to hang around the library when there will be a vacant building to stand around where they're at now? I am not trying to disagree with what you wrote, but your post does belittle the fundraising efforts that went in to this library. This is great for downtown and East Village!!!!

Dale Jun 30, 2010 1:27 AM

Good God! this is a long time coming. Happy for SD.

Marina_Guy Jun 30, 2010 2:00 PM

Something about the Seattle Library... Libraries are public spaces and this is one of the few new public buildings San Diego is going to build. Finally, something to be proud of.


After Seattle

By discarding every preconception about a public library building, they created the first 21st-century library
By Brian Kenney -- Library Journal, 08/15/2005

Few public buildings, and no libraries, have ever received the sort of acclaim that Seattle's central library garnered even before it opened in May 2004. "The Seattle building is thrilling from top to bottom," wrote Paul Goldberger in The New Yorker. Herbert Muschamp, in the New York Times, agreed: "In more than 30 years of writing about architecture, this is the most exciting building it has been my honor to review." The accolades hardly stopped there, and by year's end the library had won an armful of awards, including the American Institute of Architect's Honor Award for Outstanding Architecture.

Certainly the library was poised for attention. Designed by Dutch star architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas, the building is his largest U.S. project to date. And it is startling. It looks like a mantle of steel and glass was thrown over a random set of Lego® blocks—several of which seem to be fighting to get free.

National media attention. A new icon for Seattle. Suddenly, public libraries were on the map—and not because teens were looking at Internet porn. What Bilbao has become to museums, Seattle is becoming to libraries. It's no wonder even your dentist was asking, "What's up with that Seattle library?"

Despite all the coverage, the most important questions, at least for librarians, were barely asked, never mind answered: How does this building work as a library? Does it serve the information needs of Seattle's citizens? As a library, is there anything new here?

The quick answer to all three questions is yes. Seattle's new building succeeds as well as a library as it does a work of art. When the building falters, which it does occasionally, it can be forgiven. That's what happens when you take risks, especially multiple ones. What Seattle's team of architects and librarians did was no less than to deconstruct the public library—laying out its various services and collections—then put it back together, seemingly unburdened by history. As Ginnie Cooper, executive director of the Brooklyn Public Library, put it, "From now on, anyone who builds a public library will have to first come to Seattle and study this central library."

According to Seattle city librarian Deborah Jacobs, Seattle's design responds to three fundamental questions. "As the library's role changes, how do you protect the interest of public spaces?" asks Jacobs. "How do you plan for technology? How do you design a building that can house one million books that grow at immeasurable rates?" It is in its answers to these issues—as relevant for a small branch library as a central urban one—that Seattle has the most to teach us.

Creating the public space
This is the third central library to be built on the same site, a steeply sloping block between Fifth and Fourth avenues in downtown Seattle. The roots of this building go back to 1998—the dot-com years—when Seattle voters passed a $196.4 library bond (see "Seattle's Fast Facts," p. 37).

Enter from Fifth Avenue, the upper part of the slope, and you are in the Living Room—one of the most exhilarating public rooms in the nation. Facing south, the light-infused atrium rises up eight stories. On a Thursday morning in May, nearly 60 visitors wait for the library to open at 10 a.m. As they cross the threshold, their reaction is akin to tourists entering one of the great European cathedrals: their eyes are drawn upwards in wonder, to the dazzling glass and steel skin, then the sky. There are information and circulation desks, self-check stations, a bank of computers, and a large number of surprisingly comfortable cubist chairs. Opposite the seating, visitors can browse a selection of popular magazines as well as the library's fiction collection. A coffee stand—not Starbucks but run by FareStart, a program that empowers the homeless—and a gift shop are nearby.

Other libraries have great reading rooms, such as New York Public's Humanities and Social Sciences Library at 42nd Street and the Phoenix Public Library's Burton Barr Central Library—but Seattle's Living Room is entirely different. It's not about research, nor does it require visitors to engage in any explicit library-related task. It's about pleasure. One can enjoy a coffee with a friend, flip through a recent issue of GQ, review a stack of mystery novels or DVDs, or just stare into space. It comes closer to the ancient Greek agora—an open space in a town, a meeting place—than perhaps any other public room in America. Many libraries talk about being at the center of their community, but Seattle went and created a center for its community.

At the back of the Living Room is the Starbucks Teen Center, a reference desk and a bank of computers with a limited book collection. While set apart through color and other design elements, it remains very open to the larger Living Room. A different model than most teen spaces, it's more an entry point to the building than a room unto itself.

Poke around in the back of the fiction collection and—surprise!—there's a fiction/readers' advisory desk. Why these librarians with all their knowledge are hidden away, or even sitting behind a desk at all, is a mystery. This ambiguous relationship with public service (do we want a desk or don't we?) surfaces repeatedly throughout the building.

Room for Socrates
The Living Room is actually on level three. If you enter the building on Fourth Avenue, at the bottom of the slope, you come in on level one, a more understated space seemingly tucked under the edifice of glass. On the left, with plenty of windows looking onto the street, the children's center beckons. It is smart placement, both in ease of access and in guaranteeing that Seattle's children know they have a home in this huge building.

To the right of this entrance sits a circulation desk, striking because of a large conveyor system that moves materials overhead and through the ceiling. The library uses RFID tagging throughout its system to manage materials, and the conveyor moves items to an automated sorting room on the second floor (see "Feeding the Beast," below). Behind the desk are aisles filled with materials on hold, accessible to patrons, who can borrow them quickly through self-check. A Learning Center shares the floor; it contains the literacy, English as a second language, and world languages collections.

Rising from the center of level one and extending up through level three is the 275-seat Microsoft Auditorium. It is classic Seattle, bold and ingenious, using the natural slope of the terrain. Partially open (you can peer into it from the Living Room above), this prominent space for public discourse—think again ancient Greece but colder—reinforces the idea of the library as the community's center.

A chartreuse escalator (all vertical movement in the building is color-coded chartreuse) takes you from level one up to the Living Room. The second level, closed to the public, houses the loading dock, technical services, and the automated sorting room. New items can enter the library, be cataloged and processed, then sorted and sent to the central library or the branches with efficiency unimaginable in older buildings.

Straight up, with a twist
Tucked above the Living Room sits the Mixing Chamber, or what everyone else calls a reference center. Once Seattle's patrons locate the 19,500 square foot Mixing Chamber, they will certainly not forget it.

The room features computers dedicated to the catalog and subscription databases, a general reference print collection, and a long, minimalist reference desk that seems almost an afterthought. Is it necessary? "Perhaps not," admits Craig Kyte, manager of general reference services, who foresees a day when librarians just work the floor. "But we are grappling with how to identify librarians to the public."

Deeper into the room is an eye-popping field of over 135 public access, Internet-enabled computers. "We talked about what sort of whiz-bang effect we wanted for our technology," Jacobs says. "In the end, we decided the most significant thing we could do was supply enough." Reference librarians will get it: finally, a computer for everyone. Midafternoon on a Friday the computers operate at nearly full capacity.

The goal of the Mixing Chamber is ambitious: to deliver multidisciplinary reference help that will satisfy nearly all queries, eliminating the need for patrons to bounce from department to department. It is staffed by a mix of librarians from general reference as well as specialists culled from throughout the building. While there are four specialized service points in the book collection upstairs (Business; Science, Newspapers, Magazines; Art & Music; Genealogy & History), staff in the Mixing Room try to move the question and not the user.

Everyone on a reference desk is equipped with a Vocera® Badge, a sort of hi-tech walkie-talkie. Those working in the Mixing Chamber who need help on a business query can say "call business" and connect with a business librarian for collaboration. If a particular book is needed, a dumbwaiter brings it down to the Mixing Chamber. General reference also receives queries through virtual reference software and the telephone—these can also be bumped along to subject specialists.

Is the model working? Putting aside some initial difficulties with establishing a wireless network for Vocera, "It's become clear that many questions can be resolved in the Mixing Chamber, saving users time and removing much of the confusion," says Kyte.

Spiraling the books
How do you present your nonfiction collection in a logical way, while allowing for unpredictable growth spurts? Seattle's answer is the Book Spiral, another design as bold as it is ingenious. The spiral presents the collection in one continuous Dewey run on series of gently sloping ramps—a parking garage for books.

The spiral is a wonderful management solution. Four levels high, it can house up to 1.4 million books, allows the library to place 75 percent of its nonfiction collection on open shelves, and has tremendous flexibility—the collection can expand and contract as needed. As with much of Koolhaas's design, it seems so simple you wonder why no one ever thought of it before. But to get it right actually took months of testing; the library constructed prototypes to ensure that the design was both ADA-compliant and inviting.

The spiral is far more that an effective book warehouse. It is also a book lover's dream, a Barnes & Noble on steroids, except here old and new live together. The aisles are wide and well lit. There are tables, and on Saturday at noon dozens of people are scattered about the spiral, reading. Book storage—a prosaic activity in most libraries—here becomes an experience, a destination.

While a boon to serendipitous discovery, what's the Book Spiral like when you have 15 minutes to find a book on science experiments with water? Admittedly, the floor mats are labeled with the Dewey numbers (very cool), and the elevator stops are also Dewey-coded. But locating a specific call number within four floors of books, especially when each spiral is elliptical, remains a challenge, no matter how logical—at least in theory—the layout may be. It doesn't help that the building opened with poor signage, especially for the Book Spiral. The library is still revamping its way-finding.

The spiral suffers most when it comes to service. The four service desks, one on each level stacked above each other on the Fourth Avenue side, are a disaster. Understandably, librarians need to be available to help patrons with such an enormous nonfiction collection. Library planners seemingly felt they couldn't truly collapse all reference collections and services into the Mixing Chamber. Business and genealogy in particular have strong and vocal user groups. But these desks, located on the side of each level, are difficult to find. Cementlike, they are astonishingly high; librarians must actually climb up a couple of steps to get behind them. Their look and feel—authoritarian and remote—clash with the spirit of the building.

Ascending the Book Spiral, one reaches the Reading Room—another gift to residents. Like the best of the great reading rooms, this calm, technology-free oasis with dazzling views supports sustained research and contemplation.

The economic edge
As great a building as this is for Seattle's readers and researchers, learners and dreamers, its impact is even bigger. For libraries to be able to stake their claim in today's civic enterprise, it helps if they can flex their economic muscle.

A year after its opening, the library's foundation and Seattle's Office of Economic Development sponsored a study to assess the new building's effect on the local economy. In its first year of operation, the study reports, the library was visited by over 2.3 million individuals, 30 percent from out of town— and more coming. Seattle's library is becoming a destination point for a global community.

The study also says that, in its first year, the building was responsible for $16 million in new economic activity. Over the next 20 years, the life of the bond issue, the central library is expected to generate $320 million. The study also finds that the library could help reposition the downtown as a cultural center as well as improve and promote the city's identity.

These are great numbers for Jacobs and staff. But if they are leveraged successfully, they could be even better news for library users, translating into longer hours and more materials. In Seattle, a great library should only become even greater.

sandiegodweller Jun 30, 2010 10:45 PM

Sounds like a wonderful meeting place in Seattle. You would think that since it is so succesful in terms of attendance and economic stimulus to the neighborhood, it would be able to stay open.

Can you imagine how many weeks the new San Diego Library will need to be closed in order to bridge the San Diego budget gap?

I can GUARANTEE that the San Diego Library won't attact 2.3 million visitors per year anytime soon.

Seattle Public Library announces the sort-of-annual closure week

June 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

In West Seattle news, West Seattle online

Once again this year because of budget cuts, the Seattle Public Library system will shut down for a week at summer’s end. They’ve just sent out an announcement saying the dates are August 30th-September 5th, right before Labor Day, so they won’t reopen till Tuesday 9/7. Read on for the full details:
The Seattle Public Library system will close Monday, Aug. 30 through Sunday, Sept. 5 due to citywide budget cuts. Please note Monday, Sept. 6 is the Labor Day holiday and all libraries will be closed. Regular Library operations will resume Tuesday, Sept. 7.

All city departments have implemented cuts to help address a total $67 million gap in the 2010 city budget. The Library is funded from the city general fund.

The systemwide closure is one of a number of measures the Library is implementing to achieve $3 million in cuts for 2010. The closure will save approximately $650,000.

The closure will mean salary reductions for nearly 650 employees who will not be paid during that week. The remaining savings is being met through cuts to branch hours, management and administration, the budget for books and materials, staff computers and staff training.

Services unavailable:

Most Library services will be unavailable during the one-week closure and will have the following impacts:

· No materials will be due and no fines will be accrued.

* The last day to check out Library items before the closure is Sunday, Aug. 29. The Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., will be open until 6 p.m. that day and another 11 branches will be open until 5 p.m. Visit or call 206-386-4636 for more information on Library locations and hours.

* No book drops will be open. The Central Library book drops will close at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29 and will reopen at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7.

- Book drops at branches that are open on Sundays will close at 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29. The book drops will reopen at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7.

- Book drops at branches that are closed on Sundays will close at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28. The book drops will reopen at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7.

* Limited access to the online catalog. Patrons will be able to search the catalog and check their Library record but will not be able to place holds on items. No staff will be working to process the thousands of books and materials that customers normally put on hold.

* Limited access to the website ( The online calendar, databases, downloadable books and media, digital special collections, podcasts, SPL Mobile app and blogs will be available, but other online information and features will not be available. No staff members will be working to maintain the site or troubleshoot problems.

* No Library computers will be available. Patrons will not be able to reserve a computer for the week the Library system is closed.

* No access to Wi-Fi.

· No book group kits will be sent, received or returned during the one-week closure. Kits will be sent to libraries as usual on the last Wednesday of the month, Aug. 25. Kits not available then will be sent as soon as possible after Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6.

* No programs or events in Library meeting rooms.

* No TeleCirc, the Library’s telephone circulation service that provides patrons with information on their Library account.

* No Quick Information telephone service.

* No Text a Librarian, e-mail a librarian or chat with a librarian.

* No mail will be received during the closure. The Library will have the U.S. Post Office hold all mail until the Library reopens. There will not be staff available to accept deliveries.

* No Mobile Services.

* No parking in library garages. The Central Library, Capitol Hill Branch and Ballard Branch garages will be closed.

Neighborhood Service Centers located at the Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill branches will provide assistance by appointment only. The Lake City Neighborhood Service Center and parking garage will remain open. It is co-located with the Lake City Branch, but has a separate entrance.

Some electronic services available

Some electronic resources will be available for patrons to access remotely during the closure. Patrons should understand that staff will not be available to provide assistance to use these online services. The online services available by going to will include:

· Calendar of Events. Patrons will be able to see information about upcoming Library programs.

· SPL Mobile page. Patrons will be able to view information about using the Library’s new app for Web-enabled phones, called SPL Mobile.

· Online databases. Patrons will have access to more than 70 premium databases, including Britannica Online,, Consumer Reports and Morningstar Investment Research Center.

· Downloadable media. Patrons will have access to more than 50,000 items in the digital collection, including 42,000 e-books and audiobooks, 3,000 downloadable music titles and 5,000 downloadable movie titles. There will be links to instructional videos on how to download digital media.

· Digital collections. Patrons will have access to three special collections that have been digitized: Photos from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Collection, the Northwest Art Collection and The Seattle Historical Photograph Collection.

· Adult blog Shelf Talk and teen blog Push to Talk.

· Library podcasts.

Aug. 30 through Sept. 5 was the week selected for the closure because general Library use at that time is not as high as other times during the year, school is not in session and there are fewer Library programs scheduled.

City Librarian Susan Hildreth said she understands how difficult the closure will be for patrons who depend on and need Library services, particularly during this prolonged recession. “Unfortunately the Library has limited options when dealing with cuts of this magnitude,” she said. “Without the closure, we would have had to cut more operating hours or further reduce the book budget.” Hildreth explained the majority of the Library’s $50 million budget pays for direct public service – Library personnel to run the libraries. The remainder of the budget pays for books and materials, and fixed costs, such as telecommunication and Internet services and utilities. “There weren’t any easy choices,” she said.

Hildreth encourages patrons to start planning now for the closure. “For those who aren’t familiar with our digital collection, this is a good time to learn how to download books, movies and music, since they will be available during the closure,” she said.

SDfan Jul 1, 2010 4:07 AM

CCDC updated its website:

HurricaneHugo Jul 4, 2010 11:16 PM

Man...yuppies and hipsters found out about my favorite mexican food place (La Fachada in Sherman Heights).

Never seen so many white people and asians in the ghetto.

Mariobrotha Jul 6, 2010 7:11 PM

^^ :haha: sorry... that was totally because of me. I worked at the Science Center in Balboa Park (hipster/yuppie central) and I pretty much spread the word like wildfire about that place.

staplesla Jul 13, 2010 10:37 PM

I'm not going to post the whole story as it's pretty long, but thought this story was interesting.

California ties for last place as the most expensive places to live, and is the 2nd most costly state to conduct business.

Derek Jul 15, 2010 5:20 PM

sandiegodweller Jul 19, 2010 4:19 AM

Library cost overruns could fall on taxpayers’ shoulders
Library cost overruns could fall on taxpayers’ shoulders

SUNDAY, JULY 18, 2010 AT 8:57 P.M.

Much has been made of the $32.5 million gap in funding for the long-planned downtown San Diego library — a hole private fundraisers are trying to plug but taxpayers eventually might have to fill.

But there’s another financial risk that hasn’t been front and center in the library debate: potential cost overruns.

The $185 million library contract has been portrayed as a fixed price. But buried in the hundreds of pages of supporting documents related to the construction is a 30-page document labeled “Exhibit A,” which lists things that could go wrong that would not be covered by the builder, Turner Construction.

Instead, those added expenses would have to come from the same tapped-out sources — private benefactors or the city, which has an ongoing budget deficit and has required repeated cuts in services in recent years.

Most of the exclusions are standard protections imposed by construction professionals, experts say. Several of the conditions could lead to lengthy delays or cost increases and stall the planned opening in 2013.

Among those is a provision stating that any changes that result from updating the project’s outdated approval under the 2001 building code will be the city’s responsibility.

Turner also is not liable for added costs associated with complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act or any archaeological discoveries or historical artifacts.

The company also is excluded from covering independent seismic reviews, fire marshal inspections, third-party smoke-control testing, soil contaminations, hazardous-materials excavation, underground storage tanks, and utility, plan-check, permitting and other fees.

“We try to pick up in the documents what we have seen in the past through experience,” said Ron Rudolph, a Turner vice president. “Ninety percent of the time (cost overruns) happen because specifications and drawings aren’t perfect and we try and fill in the gaps.”

Rudolph said constructing the library under the 2001 building code also presents no concern.

“The updates currently under way are not all that different,” he said. “This building is an extremely well-built building.”

The City Council late last month approved construction of the new central library at Park Boulevard and J Street, a now-vacant lot that for years housed the old Police Department garage. Construction on the nine-story building is scheduled to start this month.

The library was approved 6-2, with council members Carl DeMaio and Sherri Lightner opposed. Neither would discuss the potential cost overruns, but Lightner said in a statement, “I remain concerned that the council voted to approve the library before all funding had been identified.”

The council decision capped a 35-year effort to develop a new central library for San Diego. Darren Greenhalgh, the city engineer overseeing the project, said there was ample consideration of the potential expenses before the council approved the project.

“Furthermore, by bringing Turner into the design of the project early on, risks of errors or omissions have been greatly reduced, which means the likelihood of cost overruns are reduced, as well,” Greenhalgh said.

He said the city did thorough site research and is confident there will be no major surprises when crews excavate. A 2,500-gallon fuel spill from 2006 has been fully remediated, Greenhalgh said.

Richard Rider of San Diego Tax Fighters said he was stunned to learn the extent of the potential cost overruns. Rider said key officials deliberately avoided talking about added liabilities in the run-up to the council vote.

“The city is operating under what I call the hole-in-the-ground strategy,” he said. “You start a project, then discover ‘unforeseen costs,’ but you can’t stop now because you’ve already dug a hole in the ground.”

Brian Perlberg, a senior attorney for the Associated General Contractors of America trade group, said it is not unusual for builders to require a property owner to assume the risk for possible costs outside the developer’s control.

“For things in which the owner is in a better position to know or mitigate, it makes sense for them to take on that risk and not hold the contractor responsible,” Perlberg said.

“How is a contractor supposed to know if there are Indian burial grounds underneath the site?” Perlberg said. “He doesn’t.”

brantw Jul 21, 2010 1:55 AM

Pedestrian Bridge Update
Took some photos of the pedestrian bridge today. Most of the suspension cables are already in place.

Derek Jul 21, 2010 8:27 AM

Too bad it couldn't be completed for Comic-Con. It would've been nice to see thousands of people using that bridge. :)

staplesla Jul 23, 2010 11:07 PM

Trolley to UCSD, UTC gets green light
As expected, the SANDAG board of directors this morning selected the route for a $1.2 billion extension of the San Diego Trolley north from Old Town to the UCSD campus and University Town Centre.

The new 11-mile trolley route is expected to be in operation in early 2015. Conservative estimates expect 20,000 riders per day, comparable to the Green Line which services San Diego State University and the Mission Valley shopping centers.

The board had three potential routes before it – narrowed down from nine options during a lengthy public “scoping” process -- but only one was considered viable.

The new rail line will run north from Old Town within the existing rail right of way, which officials say will cut off a year of development and construction. Stops are planned at Tecolote Drive, Clairemont Drive and Balboa Avenue.

At Gilman Drive, the trolley line will veer west of I-5, away from the train corridor, to a stop at Nobel Drive, followed by an on-campus stop near UCSD’s Price Center. At Voight Drive the trolley crosses back over I-5, then across Genesee Avenue before ending at a University Towne Center transit center.

The board’s unanimous vote and the near unbridled enthusiasm from a host of speakers --including Supervisor Ron Roberts and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders -- this morning reflect the universal enthusiasm for this route.

Still, some tweaking was proposed before the vote. Several speakers encouraged trolley planners to look closely at adding a stop at the Veterans Hospital near the UCSD Campus. The proposed route passes about a block from the busy regional hospital. Officials said that would add $5 million to build a station.

A second proposal encouraged looking closely at developing a connection to the Coaster train which circles around the Golden Triangle to the east before veering west to a Sorrento Valley stop.

Elyse Lowe, executive director of Move San Diego, endorsed the trolley selection but said serious consideration is needed to the bus routes that serve the densely populated coastal area.

Among the next steps will be the application to the federal government for half the cost of the project, $600 million. The balance will be paid from TransNet, a fund generated through a ½ cent sales tax earmarked solely for transportation projects.

Where does the project go from here? Environmental impact studies are targeted to 2011, engineering design by 2013 and the first trolley should be moving up the coast in 2015.

S.DviaPhilly Jul 24, 2010 1:59 AM


staplesla Jul 27, 2010 5:10 PM

A British design team’s concept for lighting up the San Diego-Coronado Bridge has been chosen by a special Port of San Diego panel, beating out the two other finalists for the project.

The London-based group led by Peter Fink got the nod. It proposes illuminating both the deck and the pillars below it with power provided by electricity generated from wind turbines.

The pillar lights would change colors to reflect days of the week, holidays and the changing seasons, while the lighting on top would vary based on traffic conditions along the bridge.

“I’m happy,” said Robert Mosher, 89, who originally helped design the bridge and sat on the panel. “I thought it was the best.”

He said the eight-member panel had been sworn to secrecy about the recommendation, which it made Friday after holding a lengthy meeting. Mosher hadn’t even told his wife, he said when contacted Monday evening.

Port commissioners are expected to vote on the recommendation at their September meeting, said agency spokesman John Gilmore.

Final approval doesn’t mean the 2.1-mile, 40-year-old bridge would be glowing any time soon. The port still needs to secure money for the project — as much as $5 million.

The port and the state Department of Transportation have jointly agreed to spend $50,000 on the design phase. They hope to get funding for the construction through grants and donations.

Fink couldn’t be reached by phone or e-mail.

Gilmore said the panel, made up of experts in art, architecture and green energy, gave each design considerable study. One panel member called the Fink design a “celebration of the bridge,” Gilmore said. Another called it “distinctive.”

The Fink team’s concept wasn’t the favorite of San Diego Union-Tribune readers, though. In an online poll, it finished second to the proposal from the Bideau Co., a French design firm, which wanted to use LED lights to create a zigzag shape that’s found on Kumeyaay pottery.

Nearly 60 percent of Union-Tribune readers chose the Bideau approach as their favorite. The Fink team garnered 25 percent of the votes.

The third competitor, the Ned Kahn/Patrick McInerney Associates/ARUP Lighting team, received about 8 percent for its vision of projecting different intensities of light across the bridge to showcase the structure’s connection to nature.

McInerney, a Coronado native, was upset with the panel’s choice. He said the recommended design is outdated.

“It’s chucking a lot of energy onto the structure and lighting it,” McInerney added. “I think it’s another missed opportunity.”

HurricaneHugo Jul 27, 2010 11:44 PM

The best one won IMO. :)

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