On a breezy Wednesday evening — February 4 — hundreds of residents from San Diego’s District 4 filed through the glass-paned doors of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to attend the first of four community meetings on San Diego’s budget crisis.
The city council’s Budget and Finance Committee (councilmembers Tony Young, Sheri Lightner, Donna Frye, Todd Gloria, Carl DeMaio, and Kevin Faulconer) hosted the event to hear ideas on ways the city can cut $54 million worth of expenditures.
Despite the realization that many community services and programs will have to be done away with, residents of District 4 weren’t furious, but friendly, offering a helping hand to save community programs and urging budget committee members to explore ways to utilize community volunteerism. “Call on volunteers. You need to include us,” said one speaker.
Another speaker, an older female resident, offered to organize an additional Friends of the Library book sale to raise money to save a local youth program. “Just let me know and we can do it.”
And while volunteerism was the main theme of the night, community members implored the council to keep their budget cuts away from branch libraries and local recreation centers.
A mother stood before councilmembers with her two young sons by her side. In a heavy Spanish accent, she informed them how much libraries and youth programs meant to her family.
“As a family…low-income…we cannot afford books for my kids. The library provides books for my kids. I have a computer, but I don’t have enough money for the Internet. The library has Internet. So no more cuts. Libraries are being cut to the bone. Be realistic…there is no more bone to cut.”
According to many speakers, the city could save money by abandoning plans for a central library, eliminating lifeguard services, and halting residential street sweeping. They asked the council to consider raising sales taxes, start charging for trash pick-up, and increase the penalties for noncompliant code offenders.
To offer a helping hand or give ideas on how the city can avoid going bankrupt, attend one or all of the following community meetings:
*Saturday, Feb.14, 9 a.m., Mira Mesa Library, 8405 New Salem St.
*Saturday, Feb.21, 9 a.m., Hoover High School Auditorium, 4474 El Cajon Blvd.
*Thursday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m., Lewis Middle School, 5170 Greenbriar Ave.