By Erin Goss // Photos by Allie Daugherty and Lisa Costigan

To make this city even finer, generous San Diegans and private companies help fund civic projects via The City of San Diego Philanthropy Center, a portal that matches donors with the City departments to which they want to donate.

Money given to the City qualifies as a charitable donation, which means givers get tax write-offs, and San Diego gets (among other refinements), a new central library in East Village and the continued maintenance of fire pits along the coast.

Read a book, start a fire or spark be your own hometown hero at

One for the Books

Comprised of 35 total branches, the San Diego Public Library system is a year away from having a shiny new focal point: the New Central Library, a nine-story, 500,000 square-foot addition to the downtown skyline slated to open July 2013 at Park Blvd. and 11th Ave., in East Village.

“It will be the largest public library in the region, with an accessible collection of more than 1.2 million volumes,” says Jay Hill, CEO of the San Diego Public Library Foundation. “It will be a new center for literacy and learning with resources, programs and public spaces that enrich, empower and enlighten.”

The project will cost nearly $200 million, and many San Diegans are doing their part to help foot the bill. According to Hill, donations from the private sector, including those facilitated by the Philanthropy Center, have resulted in the highest level of private support ever for a public library capital project anywhere outside of New York City.

“It’s a fiscally responsible project and uses an effective mix of public and private financing,” he says. “It requires no new taxes, bonds or even a cent of San Diego’s General Fund monies.”

Private funding will cover 35 percent of the total project, which includes a two-story charter school for 500 students and is helping to stimulate the local economy by creating more than 900 construction-related jobs, more than 98 percent of which are within San Diego County

How the library stacks up:

Address: 330 Park Blvd., East Village
Stories: nine
Parking: 500 total spaces
Additional features: 355-seat auditorium, outdoor plaza café, technology center
Architect: Rob Wellington Quigley, FAIA; Tucker Sadler & Associates
Cost: $185 million

Ring of Fire

San Diego’s fire pits have been a hotspot since the City cut funding for the project in 2008. Our cherished bonfires nearly went up in smoke

Up in arms, certain fire-loving Finest City folks wanted to get involved.

“The City created the Fire Pit Fund because of the volume of private citizens claiming they wanted to help out,” says San Diego’s director of special projects, Gerry Braun.

And help they did.

Finding the $120,500 needed annually to keep the 186 pits blazing had been a struggle, but, this year, San Diegans have donated enough money (via the Philanthropy Center) to pay for maintenance through 2013.

Now, due to a budget surplus, the City has stated that it can begin once again to assume the expenses associated with the fire pits.

“Because of the financial reforms initiated by Mayor Sanders, and an improving economy, the City is now able to fully fund the program.”

That’s hot!

The Burning Question

Answer: Gerry Braun’s fire pit tips

--Build a fire with kindling or newspaper
--Bring long wire to roast marshmallows and hotdogs
--Burn wood that’s free of nails and varnish
--Don’t try to extinguish fire with sand or water; let it burn out
--Don’t bring drugs or alcohol
--Don’t use gasoline or other accelerants
--Don’t roughhouse near pits
--Don’t fall in


Standing there and looking pretty at Fashion Valley

By Allie Daugherty

As part of ongoing renovations at Fashion Valley, a “living wall” will blossom at the mall’s northeast entrance.

Measuring 48' wide by 8' tall, the architectural feature will be covered with thousands of exotic plants chosen based on their colors, textures and ability to thrive in an environment that receives little direct sunlight.

“I think it’s going to make a statement,” says Rocco Campanozzi, one of the project’s designers. “The wall is located at the main entry to the mall, so as you drive in from Friars Road, this will be one of the first impressions you’ll have.”