Minutes of the Regular Meeting of June 4, 2009


(As approved and amended at the Regular Meeting of July 16, 2009).


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, June 4, 2009, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:30 pm. 


Commissioners present: Del Portillo, Gomez, Lee, Munson and Ono.


Commissioner Chin arrived at 4:36 pm.


Commissioner Kane arrived at 4:38 pm.




An anonymous citizen said he had advice for the new Commissioner.  He said there is a line of demarcation at the Library Commission between those who have perks and those who don’t.  He said barriers are created between those who give money and those who do not.


Ellen Egbert, Bernal Heights, said there is a celebration for Project Read at 6:00 in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room and everyone is invited to attend.  She said Project Read is one on one tutoring for adults learning to read.


Trisha Devries said she is here to show her support for the new North Beach library. 


President Gomez asked that the speaker hold her comments until Item No. 2 about the North Beach branch.


Sue Cauthen said she heads up a coalition who is concerned about the present plan for the North Beach Library.


President Gomez asked that the speaker wait until Item No. 2 about the North Beach branch.  She said she will again ask people to hold their remarks on the North Beach Library until the item is heard.




Peter Warfield read the agenda language under public comment.  He said the item description does not exclude items on the agenda from being addressed.  He said the first person who spoke voluntarily agreed not to speak at this time.  He said he believed the second person had a right to speak.  He said the Commission has many times been held in violation of Sunshine Law requirements.  He said that he believes the plans for the Park Branch need to be reconsidered.


Sue Cauthen said the Sunshine Ordinance does not permit a focus on another item on the agenda during public comment; however, it does permit public comment on a matter that is related to an item on the agenda.  She said she is chair of a number of committees and she feels that a violation of the Sunshine Ordinance has occurred at this meeting.  She said she is very disappointed.


Anne Wintroub, Friends of the Library, said there is another opportunity to come out and support the Friends and the Library at the Mission Book Sale and Donation Drive on June 12, 13 and 14 in the heart of the Mission.  


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said the International Poetry Festival will be held in July.  She said there are 26 poets representing 21 different countries.  She said there will be readings around the city. 




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said on September 8, 2008, the Library Commission unanimously voted to endorse 701 Lombard Street as the preferred site for a new North Beach Branch Library.  He said the Recreation and Park Commission also unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the 701 Lombard Street location as the preferred location for the new branch library.  He said the Peer Review will include a presentation by the project architect, a response from a library staff member, and a critique and commentary by two professionals.  He said Craig Hartman and Anne Caine are the peer reviewers for today’s meeting.


Marsha Maytum, Principal with Leddy, Maytum Stacy Architects gave on overview of the project.  She said there was a rigorous master plan process.  She said the Master Plan was adopted last fall.  She said they have been working on the schematic design for the project.  She said the new library will be 8,500 square feet or 59% larger than the existing library.  She said they are continuing to explore the materials and color for the library.  She showed a presentation on the design including various views to and from the building and the interior of the building.


Elsie Wong, BLIP Projects Coordinator, said the library staff has asked the architects to include several patron and staff priorities.  She said the Library is very pleased with the development of the plan.  She said the design is attractive, comfortable and incorporates the key priorities and is one that addresses and meets the service demands of the community. 


Craig Hartman, Design Partner for the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill said he is delighted to respond to this project and what he considers to be an exceptional project in its design.  He said the project will be a positive addition to the North Beach neighborhood. He said the building will be a neighborhood lantern.  He said the triangular plan is clear and sufficient in use of the space. 


Anne Cain, County Librarian, Contra Costa County Library, said this is a very exciting project.  She said she visited the existing library and playground with staff and came away from the meeting very excited about the idea that the community gets to plan a completely new library.  She said the planning team has done an excellent job conducting a needs assessment with significant community input.  She said the two entrances will encourage nonusers to enter and investigate the library.  She said the new building will address the existing building’s deficiencies.  She suggested combining the circulation, reference and children’s desks and combine with roving staff.  She said at a minimum she would recommend modular desks to insure flexibility in the future.  She said there are quality spaces for teens and children.  She said the growth of the collection capacity seems appropriate for the next 20 – 30 years.  She said the meeting room on the second floor makes a lot of sense.       


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said none of the interior views are reflected in the handout given to the public.  He said the interior design looks a little bit fragmented from the reading areas and the service desk.  He said traditionally the reference desk is close to the books.  He said it appears there is a little bit of a distortion on the amount of increase in square footage for actual books and reading areas.


Penelope Clark, Co-Chair of Russian Hill Neighbors, said the Board of Directors has voted to approve the new project.  She said they like it very much.  She said she is an interior designer by trade so she would like to make a suggestion that the children’s area be one floor and add a second meeting room to the second floor. 


Howard Wong, architect and member of the Coalition for a Better North Beach Library and Telegraph Hill Dwellers Planning and Zoning Committee, said he is concerned about the history and the intent of its use.  He said in 2004 the property was taken by eminent domain for a park on the triangle.  He said for any non recreational use you must go back to the voters.  He said the library on the site would also block views.


Sue Cauthen referred to a document handed out entitled Save Triangle Park.  She said because of all the legal complexities and the decision to take this property by eminent domain there will be problems which will extend the process for a long time.  She said she Chair’s the Coalition for a Better North Beach Library.  She said the site is too small and the wrong size.  She said the Telegraph Hill Dwellers Association and others believe that the existing library should be preserved and restored.  She said this is very controversial and there are many different views and it is very important to hear all sides.


Lucy Johns, resident of Telegraph Hill and regular library user said there is an enormous amount of history in the neighborhood.  She asked that the design contain display space for the literature and history of the area.  She said in her opinion brick is horrible and she hoped the design did not include brick.


Audrey Kelly, resident of North Beach, said she has two children that use the library and playground every day.  She said she supports the Commission’s vote to build the library on the triangle.  She said she is a member of both the Friends of the Library and Friends of the Joe DiMaggio playground and she is very excited to see this new library built.


Donna Fore, a parent in North Beach, said she works at the neighborhood center just around the corner from the library.  She said she is very excited about the plans and is in full support.  She said there are many people in support of the new branch.  She said the Mason Street intersection is horrible and this will mitigate a horrible pedestrian situation.  She said the community room is the heart of the library. 


Joan Wood, said she lives 1˝ block from the triangle.  She said the slide show was very impressive although she did not recognize the area and she thinks there is something wrong with the perspective.  She said through a public records request she received the architectural contracts and said it started at $100,000 and is now at $1,535,000 maximum.  She said when the contract was renewed the first time it was for the 701 Lombard Street.  The initial contract was for the current site.  She said there are a number of legal questions relating to this site.


Teng Chow, resident of North Beach said his family loves North Beach because of its richness and urbanism and also its architectural landmarks.  He said the current library is the opposite of that.  He said he loves the new design and he is excited that his daughter will have a newer and better library and by closing Mason Street his daughter will have a bigger playground.  He said he is also speaking as a staff member at the Chinatown Development Center and they believe that a great public library is being planned for the site.


Anne Wintroub, Friends of the Library, said this was a wonderful presentation and she said the process has been incredible.  She said it has been a very democratic process and it is collaboration between the Library and Recreation and Park Departments.


Liz Diaz said she lives a block north of the site.  She said she is so excited about the project.  She said this will make the neighborhood more world class.  She said it has been a great democratic process. 


Trisha Devries said she is a mother in the neighborhood but she is also an architect and user of the library.  She said the southern part of the neighborhood where the cafes are located is dense and people love it.  She said this area is a kind of void space.  She said by creating a building in the triangle you are actually enhancing open space.


Anne Dorman, Children’s Librarian, North Beach branch said the Children’s area at the current library is an afterthought and she is very excited about the new design.  She said 100% of the families she has talked to about the new building are in support. She said the children’s area will be tripling in size.  She said she is excited about having a community room.


Cathy Cormier, Children’s Librarian, Marina Branch and resident of North Beach said she is speaking in enthusiastic support of the new branch.  She said the plan meets this diverse community’s needs.  She said the community room is essential.


Gayle Switzer, member Telegraph Hill Dwellers (THD) said the THD Board has not voted to oppose the current design for the branch but they did vote to ask that the EIR look at all alternatives for a new branch including expansion of the existing library and building on a different location.  They also voted to ask that the closing of Mason Street be examined fully. 


Bill Bondi said he lives about three blocks from the library.  He said he has raised two children in the neighborhood and is a strong supporter of the project.  He said he has not received one notice on any of the meetings, but he is happy that the Russian Hill Neighbors have supported it.  He said he would like to see a strong pallet of materials and good craftsmanship.


Linda Sabuta, resident of Russian Hill, said she is very happy to participate in the process.  She said the building relates to the neighborhood and the community.  She said daylight, indoor air quality and a healthy environment are extremely important and she said it is great that this building will be built with a higher standard of sustainability.  She said she is very excited to have the building in her neighborhood.


Tom Esquel, said he likes the overall look of the library but he said the adult area seems claustrophobic.  He said there is no site line across the library.  He said he appreciates that there will be more windows.


Marian Chatfield-Taylor, Friends of the Library, said regardless of how many different points of views there are in a community, once things get rolling people get pretty excited.  She said she has been to all of the community meetings and she thought at the last meeting she heard a fairly strong consensus for the master plan.  She said she wanted to welcome everyone to help raise the funds to help equip the branch.

The President of the North Beach Neighbors said she is very excited about this project and she does believe that all voices are being heard.  She said this is a marvelous historical neighborhood and with everyone’s support North Beach can have a wonderful library for our present and future.


Peter Warfield, Executive Director of Library Users Association, said the building of this branch is predicated upon the demolition of the existing branch which quite a few people think has considerable historic value and this needs to be remembered.  He said the handout shows a lot of nice books, but he said that books are the least increasing item of all the items shown on the bar charts.  He said the library has used architecture to push forward programs that the library supports.  He said this plan has some serious drawbacks.


Brian O’Flynn said he has used the library since it opened in 1958.  He said he is a professional builder and architect and he is also the former owner of 701 Lombard.  He said this is a fixed process and has not been one of fairness or justice.  He said the record is that he went through a lengthy entitlement process and not one time during the process was open space for the parcel mentioned.  He said his property was taken for open space through eminent domain.  He said where he wanted to put a building suddenly there is going to be a library and not open space.


Alicia Williams said her family is a North Beach family.  She said the new Master Plan is a crown jewel.  She said she supports it and wants the plan to continue. 


Lizzy Hirsch said she is a resident, parent, city employee and landscape architect.  She said over fifty years ago the city went through the same process and they came up with the exact same idea for building the library on the triangle and closing Mason Street for the park. She said at the time they didn’t own the triangle.  She said let us do it now because it makes sense.


Karen Mauney-Brodek, Planner with the Recreation and Park Department said the Recreation and Park Department does believe that this plan provides for an amazing new branch for the library.  She said the Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously to support this plan.


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said it is heartening to hear all of the different views and opinions.  She said North Beach has been known as the literary heart of San Francisco but has never had a library that adequately reflects that.  She read statements of support from former Poet Laureates Jack Hirschman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti on behalf of himself and City Light Books.  


Bill Cruzan, a resident of North Beach for 30 years, said this is a fantastic project.  He said he is concerned about the closure of Mason Street and the impacts to Columbus and the surrounding area.  He said we need to use the best materials for this project.            


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Lee thanked all of the speakers and the peer reviewers.  He said this is a very controversial site but when you go through the neighborhood process you must move forward.  He said there is no comparison between a 4 story condominium at 55-60 ft. high versus a library at 25 ft. high.  He said he urges the community to stick together because we need this project to move forward. 


Commissioner Del Portillo said she was very impressed by the comments of the users and the parents in the area.  She said it seemed to be an overwhelming majority in support.  She said she thinks we need to go forward with the project.


Commissioner Munson said this project has been studied intensely.  He said we have some financing available now and it is the time to move forward.  He said he is not persuaded by the objections to the plan.  He said he is very impressed by the people with families who spoke in support.


Commissioner Kane thanked the architects and the peer reviewers.  He said the presentation was very impressive.  He said he also wanted to thank everyone who took the time to come and speak before the Commission today.  He said it has been a long process with a number of community meetings.  He said both the Library Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission have voted unanimously to support the 701 Lombard site.  He said the Commission has asked tough questions about the project.


Luis Herrera responded to a question from Commissioner Kane that there has been a legal opinion that this is a legal use of the site because it does increase the overall park area.


Commissioner Kane said there are different costs proposals.  He said this proposal is as efficient or less expensive for both operating and construction costs.  He said a branch with two levels would be like operating two branches and would require a reduction of hours.  He said with the long term Master Plan there will be more green space for the park.  He said previous traffic studies have shown no material impact by closing Mason Street.  He said the design works well for the library.  He said many people who attended the community meetings said they wanted to have the library remain open during construction and with this design the branch will remain open. 


Commissioner Ono said thank you to everyone who spoke.  She said the presentation was amazing and it appears the project is meeting all of the needs of the neighborhood.  She said if she had been at the meeting where the Commission approved the triangle for the site of the library she would have voted to approve it as well.


Commissioner Chin thanked the Peer Reviewers and members of the community who spoke.  She said she grew up in North Beach and went to the library almost every day.  She said because the North Beach Branch  was so small she and her siblings went to the Chinatown Branch.  She said it is pleasing for her to see the children’s room expanded and the opportunity to have a community room.  She said the colors reminded her of McDonald’s and she would like to see more green.


President Gomez thanked the Peer Reviewers and the speakers.  She said the City Attorney’s office has reviewed the plan.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said all of the comments of the Peer Reviewers will be documented and staff will report back to the Commission with a Peer Review Response. He said there will be more review about the transportation study and historic resource study as part of the Environmental Impact Review (EIR) process.  He said the draft EIR should be issued in early Fall for further review.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, gave the background on the FY09-10 Budget, budget priorities and the status of the budget. 


Maureen Singleton, Budget Manager, explained the projected Budget Revenue and Expenditures as of February, 2009.  She explained the budget activity to date and the current projected Budget Revenue and Expenditures. 


Luis Herrera explained the budget activity and negotiations with the Mayor’s office.  He said the budget is very positive.


Maureen Singleton said they will still be discussing budget issues with the Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors.  She said the first budget hearing will be June 17, 2009, the second hearing on June 24 and full Board of supervisors’ approval by July 31, 2009.


Luis Herrera said there may be some adjustments to the good because Labor Union SEIU did pass a new agreement.  He said the State budget is a major unknown in the budget.  He said the Library will continue to look at efficiencies for the future.


Commissioner Chin left the meeting.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the 2009 amnesty program was very successful with a total number of returned items of 29,228 with a value of over $700,000.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said both the children’s and teen programs for 2009 are part of SFPL’s Green Stacks Initiative.  She said the theme for the children’s program is “Read It and Green It” and the teen program is “Cool it! Green Teen Summer Read.”  She explained the program structures and the green aspects of the programs.  


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that Mayor Newsom has named Diane Di Prima as the City’s 5th Poet Laureate.  He said di Prima is the author of 44 books of poetry and prose.  He said she is one of the few female Beat writers to attain prominence.  He said the One City One Book selection for this year is Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst.  He said it is a thriller set in San Francisco and the cemeteries in Colma.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the budget is very flat and it takes something like $3.1 million out of the reserve fund.  He said there was a lawsuit about the use of the Library Preservation funds and how they could be used.  He asked how the Commission is going to protect that reserve fund when no one really knows how much it is.


Peter Warfield said the reduction to the budget includes the statement “limit growth in book budget to additional Fuhrman Fund.”  He said if that is true that is a real disappointment.  He said he is glad the amnesty program was profitable and he said he thinks the Library would find a permanent fine fee system to be popular as well. 




There was no Labor Union Report at this meeting.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the minutes include comments from an “anonymous speaker”.  He said he is the anonymous citizen and the “anonymous speaker” should be identified as she had identified herself in the past.  He said remarks made by Joan Wood and Peter Warfield were not reflected accurately. 


Peter Warfield said his comments on the Park Branch shelving were not reflected accurately. 


MOTION:  by Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the minutes of May 7, 2009.


AYES: 5-0 (Gomez, Kane, Lee, Munson and Ono)




MOTION: by Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Ono to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, May 7, 2009.


Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


AYES: 5-0 (Gomez, Kane, Lee, Munson and Ono)


The regular meeting of June 4, 2009, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 7:38 pm.


Please note:  Copies of commission minutes and handouts are available in the office of the secretary of the San Francisco Public Library Commission, 6th floor, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA  94102-4733


Explanatory documents:  Copies of listed explanatory documents are available as follows:  (1) from the commission secretary/custodian of records, 6th floor, Main Library; (2) in the rear of Koret Auditorium immediately prior to, and during, the meeting; and (3), to the extent possible, on the Public Library’s website  Additional materials not listed as explanatory documents on this agenda, if any, that are distributed to library commissioners prior to or during the meeting in connection with any agenda item will be available to the public for inspection and copying in accordance with Government Code Section 54954.1 and Sunshine Ordinance Sections 67.9, 67.28(b), and 67.28(d).