While San Diego's browned-out fire engines eventually will be going back into service, its libraries and recreation centers now face major brownouts.
It’s all part of Mayor Jerry Sanders' budget for the next fiscal year, released Thursday.
As the Mayor and fellow supporters of Proposition D warned last fall, without a sales tax hike -- which was soundly rejected -- another round of budget cuts would have to go deep into non-public safety services.
Library patrons already are in mourning.
"It's sad for the children, too, because they offer so many children's programs, teenager programs," says La Jolla Resident Isabel Eustaquio. "They offer not just books, but artwork, videos, and use of the computers for people that are job-hunting."
Hours of operation at the library system's 35 branches will be cut in half, from 36 to 18 hours a week. It will leave them open only two days a week, and every other Saturday, after July 1st.
For many of the library system's 26,000 daily patrons -- especially job seekers without private Internet access, that's not an ideal situation.
"The reality is, not everybody can afford a computer or Internet, much less a cell phone or a place to get information on a daily basis," said downtown resident Jacob Gibson. "And that's why I use (the downtown library branch)."
Library administrators are working on 'geographical pairings' -- so when a branch is closed, one of its nearest counterparts will be open.
Hours at San Diego's 62 recreation centers will drop from 40 to 20 a week starting in September.
Some swimming programs will be eliminated, along with other athletics.
For those into fitness and competition, reduced access will mean inconveniences and disappointments.
"Our jobs are pretty set," said Hillcrest resident Eli Taylor, during a break from a Thursday noontime pickup basketball game with friends at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center. "We're kind of fighting for hours as it is, to try to manipulate our schedule to fit this schedule that's already apparently deteriorating. It's pretty crushing."
Added Ocean Beach resident Jay Holland: "If you're going to cut things like that out, it just really takes a lot of luster away from the city."
The library and recreation center cuts account for nearly a third of the $57 million in budget reductions next fiscal year, and reflect a 14 percent cut in full-time positions in the two departments.
City Council deliberations on the mayor's proposed budget begin May 4.