San Diego voters eager for a new main public library will have a chance to choose from among these menu items in a series of proposition ballots scheduled for June 4. Collectively known as the “Katz Referendums,” propositions W through Z represent the San Diego Library Foundation's last-ditch attempt to salvage its dream of a state-of-the-art new library after its previous concept went down in flames last week.
That plan, a $185 million effort to be financed largely through anonymous donations, collapsed following revelations that its largest anonymous patron was convicted Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff.
“I'm 100-percent optimistic,” says commission Vice President Mel Katz of the new library proposals. “We received nothing but positive feedback over our drawings for the $185 million facility. Now imagine what the public will think when they see our drawings for a spectacular library floating off Point Loma or rising majestically from the desert sands. Best of all, any one of these proposals can be had for less than $25 billion.
“Considering that, altogether, the proposals total more than $100 billion, we'd actually be saving taxpayers at least $75 billion by choosing one,” he continues. “Given the city's ongoing financial crisis, we can't afford not to do it.”The following are brief descriptions of each of the propositions and their estimated price tags:
Proposition W—Devised by Encinitas attorney Adam Englund and dubbed the “Literacy is Unsinkable Initiative,” Prop. W calls for the construction of a nine-story, state-of-the-art library atop a 310,000-square-foot barge 10 miles off the coast of Point Loma. Adult patrons would visit this “floating oasis of learning” by ferry, with proceeds from the three-hour ferry ride paying for administrative costs and maintenance. Children would be “air-bused” to the facility from area schools via a complex network of hydrogen-filled dirigibles. The library would sport a 350-seat auditorium; a 36,000-square-foot combination teen recreation / underwater-welding vocational center; a three-story, 400-seat domed reading room; and a glass-bottom science aquarium. Estimated cost: $20 billion.
“People said I was crazy for coming up with the idea,” says Englund by satellite phone from his low-orbit space headquarters above the Arctic Circle. “But that's what they said about the cloud-dwelling inhabitants of Stratos in Star Trek episode 76. Here, we have this enormous frontier just begging for exploitation. Once we figure out how to deal with large waves and the corrosive properties of seawater, it should work.”
Proposition X—As presented by Rincondo & Associates in consultation with the library foundation, the “No Price Tag Too High for Literacy Initiative” calls for a nine-story, state-of-the-art library in the southwest Imperial County desert. San Diego patrons would visit the facility by way of a high-speed magnetic-levitation (maglev) transit system, to be built by leveling off terrain and tunneling through whatever solid objects happen to be in the way. The library would feature a three-story, 400-seat adobe reading room and a “Remembrances of Things Past” exhibition hall featuring the many desert flora and fauna expected to be rendered extinct by the facility's construction. Estimated cost: $9.8 billion, plus an additional $10.6 billion for the maglev system.
“Have you ever listened to the desert at mid-day?” asks Rincondo & Associates official Joe Huy. “Just silence—profound, surface-of-the-moon, desiccate-under-a-big-heat-lamp silence, and lots of it. Talk about an atmosphere conducive to reading.”
Proposition Y—Called the “Lit-Mo Initiative,” Prop. Y would establish a shared civilian-military library at Marine corps Air Station Miramar. The library would include all the bells and whistles of Katz's $185-million facility, but with an olive-drab, Quonset-hut-style exterior to blend with existing architecture. In order to maintain base security, specially trained Marine guards would replace librarians to enforce what one general described as “Prussian discipline and efficiency.” Patrons with overdue books would be declared “enemy malfeasants” and referred to a military tribunal for collections, while all civilian visitors would be required to navigate a series of checkpoints and an obstacle course before entering the facility. Estimated cost: $300 million.
“Basically, we'd expect visitors to exhibit the same military bearing so lacking in civilian operations,” says Marine Sgt. Maj. Louis Espinal. “In return, the Marines would provide a well-run facility generously stocked with books, magazines and whatever other reading materials we choose not to dump in the Miramar Landfill.”
Proposition Z—Perhaps the most controversial of the Katz propositions, the so-called “Books Across Borders Initiative” would establish a 290,000-square-foot “binational” library straddling the Tijuana-San Ysidro border. Among the nine-story facility's unique features: southern and northern entrances funneling patrons of Mexican and American nationalities to a common reading area; a multilevel food court; a duty-free gift shop; and a “Reading es Muy Bueno” combination children's library and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement substation. To ensure speedy egress, departing patrons would be asked for proof of citizenship via the honor system. Estimated cost: $24 billion, including construction of a San Diego-to-Tijuana maglev rail line and remote outdoor protest area in Escondido called “The Minutemen Collection.”
“How great is that?” asked San Diego Minutemen leader Jeff Schwilk. “We'll finally have a permanent place to protest, instead of having to drive all over Creation week after week looking for something to rail about. We wholly support Proposition Z, and hope San Diego voters will, too.
This story was part of our April Fool's Day issue of 2009. Don't believe it.