Minutes of the Regular Meeting of August 21, 2008


(As approved and amended at the regular meeting of September 18, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, August 21, 2008, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:36 pm.


Commissioners present: Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee, and Munson.


Commissioners Chin and Del Portillo were excused.




An anonymous citizen said the reason public comment at the Library Commission exists is so that the public can benefit from the creativity that is encouraged.  He distributed information to the Commission including a copy of a letter from Commission Secretary, Sue Blackman to the Clerk of the Board dated June 3, 2008; a copy of Resolution 2008-01 approved by the Commission; and pages 1 and 6 of the minutes from the May 1 meeting.  He said the resolution sent to the Board of Supervisors does not reflect the changes the Commission made to the Resolution at the May 1 meeting.   He said what was approved by the Board of Supervisors was never acted on or deliberated on by this Commission.


Sue Cauthen, Chair Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) said that the LCAC had approved three resolutions at its meeting that have been distributed to the Commission and the public.  She asked that those resolutions be included with the Commission’s minutes.  She said the first resolution is requesting that the LCAC and the Library Commission have a link from SFPL’s home page and that an LCAC page include data describing the group’s origin, function, mission statement and contact information.  The second resolution is regarding the BLIP website page and that it be brought up to date and the third resolution is regarding a missing book procedure and what criteria will be used to determine the replacement of those books.


Peter Warfield said the first speaker has a concern with respect to the process that the resolution approved by the Commission was not deliberated on by the Commission after changes had been made and forwarded to the Mayor’s Office.  He said as a member of the LCAC he said that the LCAC received a report about the Library’s website being upgraded.  He said he does not believe that the issue has been brought before the Commission and he said he thinks that is significant.


Donna Bero, Friends of the Public Library, thanked the Library for the Master Planning process that they have engaged in with the Recreation and Parks Department and the Department of Public Works regarding the North Beach Library.  She said she has attended all three community meetings and she looks forward to the planning process for that branch library.  She said there was a Poets Eleven reading at the North Beach branch library and there was a lot of excitement about the process for North Beach.  She said there was another Poets Eleven reading last night at the Mission Bay branch.  She said future Poets Eleven events include one on August 25 at the Mission branch, the 27th at the Anza branch, September 4 at the Bayview branch and the final reading on Sunday, September 21 at the Main Library.  She said Friends now has a partnership with Porchlight and their next event will be on Monday September 22.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the minutes are showing continual improvement.  He said there are a number of instances where what is described is what was said but there are also instances where the meaning has been skewed by omissions.  The minutes do not mention his explanation of 42 US Code 1905, which is the mental patient bill of rights and shows the irony in statements previously made showing that mental patients have rights that ordinary citizens don’t have.  He said under Peter Warfield’s comments relating to hornswoggled.  He said it is a very popular Americanism.  He said on page 6 it says anonymous citizen quoted a poem.  It did not say that he quoted Ozymandias which would have made the point he was trying to make that all vanity dies and what is left is humanity and the impulse to create art.


Peter Warfield said that it says “horns waggled is the word that comes to mind” on page one of the minutes and of course as the previous speaker has pointed out the word is “horns woggled”. He said LCAC specifically cited in its resolution items that had been told to them by senior Library officials.  He said that the Board of Supervisors was not to be kept out of future determinations of approvals of fines and fees.


MOTION: by Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Lee, to approve the minutes of July 17, 2008, with a correction to the spelling of the word “horns woggled or hornswoggled” (deceived) on page 1.


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





Luis Herrera, City Librarian said staff recommends that the Commission approve a resolution endorsing acquisition of the property at 5025 Third Street and urging the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to approve the Purchase Agreement.  He gave the background on the Bayview branch project and he said that approval of this action will help us move forward towards achieving a new, larger branch library.


Public Comment


Chris Buck, resident of Bayview Hunters Point, and member of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Redevelopment Agency said this is such a good news item and that it is a terrific idea to acquire the property adjacent to the current site.  He said not only will it be good for the library but it will be good for the community as well. He said there will be some future redevelopment in the area and there may be some opportunities for partnerships to help support the library expansion.


An anonymous citizen said he had thought there would be a report from the Real Estate Division on this prior to taking public comment.  He said he had hoped to hear a report on when the property had changed hands last and other issues related to the potential acquisition.


Peter Warfield said the Grand Jury report said there didn’t seem to be anybody in charge.  He said he thinks this needs a little more study and discussion before the Commission approves more than a million dollars in a plummeting property market.  He said he is concerned that the resolution refers to the Purchase Agreement and there has not been a discussion on the Purchase Agreement.  He said he is concerned about what seems to be a blank check because the Resolution states that the Commission authorizes the City Librarian and the Director of Property to enter into any additions, amendments or other modifications.  He said this needs more review.


Linda Brooks-Burton, Manager of the Bayview branch library, said the community is very excited about staying on that spot and expanding into the adjacent property.  She said she encourages the Commission to approve the resolution.


Larry Ware, neighborhood historian and poet, thanked the staff, Commissioners, and Linda Brooks-Burton and her staff for the wonderful work they do.  He said it is welcoming news to see that a new branch is going to be built in Bayview.  He said everyone is excited in the neighborhood.  He said that he is excited to be working on the preservation project.  He said Dr. Fuller was one of his mentors and he passed away in August.  He was the first African-American pharmacist in San Francisco and he said the Bayview has a wonderful history and he hopes the library will keep up the good work representing that history. 



Commission Discussion


Commissioner Lee asked about the property that is proposed to be acquired.


Charlie Dunn, Real Estate Division, said the property is improved.  He said it is a single story wood frame structure about 3200 sq. ft.  He said the purchase price includes the improvements as well as the land.  He responded to Commissioner Lee’s question about performing due diligence and said they have done preliminary work and the due diligence comes after the Purchase Agreement is signed.  He explained the process of purchasing the property.  He said after the due diligence period it goes to the Board of Supervisors for approval. 


Commissioner Lee said he is satisfied and this is a good project to proceed.  He said Bayview needs a new facility and he would like to see this move forward.


Commissioner Munson said the due diligence investigations provided for are pretty comprehensive.  He said it is a thoroughly drafted Purchase Agreement and the due diligence cannot get started until we have an agreement.  He said if in the middle of this there is a major problem the City has the right to get out of the deal.


Commissioner Kane asked about how the purchase price was determined and the process and why we feel this is the appropriate price.


Charlie Dunn, Real Estate Division, said the purchase price works out to about $355 a square foot for 3,227 sq. ft.  He said they did comps in the area based on improved lots.  He said the asking price was $1.5 million and based on the appraisal and negotiations the price was set at $1,175,000.


Commissioner Kane asked how this affects the overall budget for the project.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the budget allocation for this branch which has been increased, will support the property acquisition.  He said there is approximately $1.3 million available for land acquisition.


Commissioner Kane said it is very important for that community to have a first class branch open seven days a week.  


MOTION: by Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Lee to approve the resolution endorsing acquisition of property for expansion of Bayview/Anna E. Waden Branch Library and urging the Board of Supervisors to approve the Purchase Agreement.


ACTION:  AYES: 5-0 (Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).





Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager, said the format of the report has been changed to try to consolidate some of the information.  She said the monthly Manager’s Report is organized into three parts:  Informational presentations, regular reports and special reports.  She said this month we have three special reports: Anza, Ortega and Visitacion Valley peer review responses.  She said there are no changes to the budget this month.  She said the schedule report shows the original, last approved and forecast schedule for all the projects in the program.  She said there are new slides that show whether projects are on time or how long they are ahead or behind the forecast schedule.  She explained the status of the program.  She gave the Active Projects Report including information on new construction and renovations; and the Construction Report.  She showed photographs and gave reports on the Richmond, Portola, Ingleside, Bernal Heights, Eureka Valley, Potrero, Parkside, Visitacion Valley, Anza, Ortega, Merced, Bayview, Park and North Beach projects.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there was a community meeting on August 18 on the North Beach Master Plan for Joe DiMaggio Park and the North Beach branch library.  He said the goals were to improve the park by having a better connection between the park facilities, look at an improved location for the children’s area, have more green space and to maintain all the Recreation and Park program elements as part of the process.  He said another goal was to identify a site for the branch library which would provide a larger branch, providing more space for books, computers, space for adult, teen and children areas, and a program room.  He said a third goal was to unify the park and the new library to integrate all of the functions and to provide a wonderful community space for the residents of North Beach. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said at the August 18 meeting they reviewed 3 options for the Master plan: 1) a renovation of the existing building on two floors; 2) a new building at the corner of Greenwich and Columbus; and 3) a new building located at the triangle property bounded by Columbus, Mason and Lombard.  She said the benefits and challenges were discussed for each site for both the park and the library.  She said the traffic consultant reported on information about a traffic study of the surrounding streets.  She said there was an engaging Q & A session.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that the next steps include the Library Commission taking action on a recommended option.  He said the Recreation and Park Commission will hear and take action on the issue following Library Commission action.


Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager, gave a summary of public outreach for the BLIP projects.  She said the first special report would be the design review response for the Anza Branch Library.  She said the Peer Review was held at the Library Commission meeting on February 21, 2008.  She explained the responses from the architect to four issues brought up by the Peer Panel and the Commission.  She said the next special report is the design review response for the Ortega Branch Library.  She said the Peer Review was held February 21, 2008 and she explained the responses from the architect to the four issues brought up by the Peer Panel and the Commissioners.  She said the final special report is the design review response for the Visitacion Valley Branch Library.  She said the Peer Review was held January 3, 2008.  She explained the responses from the architect to five issues brought up by the Peer Panel and the Commission.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the reports are better.  He said even though there is some slippage on the schedule, the truth is always what you need to hear.  He said he is discouraged to hear they took out mature Canary Island Palms and replaced them with new Canary Island Palms at the Richmond branch.  He said the new manager could distinguish herself by providing handouts 2 to a page rather than 6 to a page.  He said the slide of Bernal Heights only showed the roof, he said the sidewalks are getting disreputable.  He said it is deleterious to the neighborhood.  He said he would like to see documentation about the seating for the Anza Branch.


Peter Warfield said it would be nice if there could be larger slides in the handouts.  He said it is impossible to read the smallest materials.  He said at least when there is detail, the slides should be bigger.  He said the page numbers seem to be sporadic.  He said it is unclear what the process is with regard to the peer review responses.  He said it appears the Library has hosted Peer Panel Reviews which have made recommendations.  He said it is not clear to him what the process is on whether the Commission wants to insist on certain changes or whether the Commission wants to accept the architect’s explanation. 


Sue Cauthen, said she agrees with the previous speaker.  She said she would love to see the Commission take a proactive stance on some of these projects and really evaluate them.  She said there was an enormous amount of concern among library people at the North Beach meeting.  She said the officers of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) were fortunate enough to be working with Luis and Jill on this and they did meet with them on this on two separate occasions.  She said they know this was a compromise position.  She said the Library did originally prefer the existing branch site.  She said the concern is that they are moving a 5,000 sq. ft. library onto a 4,000 sq. ft. site.  She said we are locating all services onto the first floor and upstairs will be a large community room and other services that won’t require additional staff.  She said she would like to see the Library bite the bullet and hire additional staff so there are services on the second floor.  She said there will have to be two Environmental Impact Reports (EIR)s, one for the closure of Mason Street and one for the demolition of the existing library and this takes time and time is money.  She said she hopes the Commission gets more involved.


Commission Discussion


President Gomez said that now is the time Commissioners speak up on the Peer Review responses and ask questions about the report.


Commissioner Kane said he likes the new reports and said they are easier to understand.  He said on the schedule you see the approved and the forecast schedule.  He said he would like to know from the last meeting what the new delay there is if any.  He asked if there are any changes in the schedule in the last month.  He said he would like to know those changes without looking at a bar chart.  He said the Richmond branch is three months ahead of schedule so he said congratulations on that.  He said on the news last night there was a protest at the Ingleside branch and he would like to know a little bit more about what we are doing for outreach to employ local residents.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that DPW has been working with CityBuild and it is important to understand the requirements for hiring local individuals.  He said it is a little more complex than what was portrayed in the news report so staff will report back to the Commission with more information.


Commissioner Kane said he went to the North Beach meeting and he wanted to give some initial thoughts.  He said he understands that whichever option is chosen for that site would require two EIRs.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said whichever site is chosen will require an environmental review for the historic building.  She said her understanding is that if two EIRs are required they will be done at one time and that they are not two separate processes.


Commissioner Kane said he understands that the triangle site will offer enough square footage to equal the renovated site on the library first floor space.


Jill Bourne said all sites that are being looked at would accommodate a full building program of 8500 sq. ft.  She said they are all within that range.  She said the current space that is being used is about 5200 sq. ft.  She said the current footprint is less than 4500 sq. ft.


Commissioner Kane said there were a lot of different issues raised at the community meeting.  He said people want and support a new library and he said there was strong interest in keeping library services open during construction.  He said he heard a lot of support for the triangle site.  He said if that site will work for library purposes in a reasonable budget, it seems to be the way to go.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said they have been working diligently with the Planning Department and the Department of Public Works to make sure that the EIR process will be expedited to a 12 month period.


Commissioner Lee asked about the closure of Mason Street for the North Beach branch site on the triangle.


Jill Bourne said that the triangle will require the closure because the building as proposed would go just over the sidewalk into the parking lane. 


Commissioner Lee said in response to a statement by the public that this Commission is not a rubber stamp.  He said the Commission has given direction on various projects.  He said there are at least three projects with no change orders so that is good news.  He said two projects are way behind schedule including Bayview and North Beach.  He asked if there is any way that they can speed up the process on the Bayview project.  He said he does not understand why the purchase of the adjacent building would delay the process 18 months.


Luis Herrera said the Library does want to expedite the Bayview project, but he said one of the reasons it is delayed is because staff went back and did some further study and we have expanded the scope of the building.


President Gomez thanked the staff for the presentation at the North Beach community meeting.  She said the presentation was clear, concise, engaging, entertaining and great under pressure.  She said there was a lot of high energy at the meeting.  She said people are devoted to the library and they are also devoted to the park planning and recreational facilities.  She said there were mixed feelings about the closure of Mason Street.  She said she thought there was some confusion about the parking and how many spaces would be lost with the street closure.   


Luis Herrera, City Librarian agreed with President Gomez that Jill Bourne’s background work and presentation were extraordinary.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that as he reported last month the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury issued a report on June 26, 2008.  He said the report had 14 recommendations and the Library was required to only respond to recommendation number 11.  He said the Library has prepared a draft response, which the Commission has as part of the packet.  He said the response is due to the Judge on August 25, 2008.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the subtitle of the Grand Jury Report is “There Really Doesn’t Seem to Have Been Anyone in Charge of the Store.”  He said whoever wrote the response didn’t read Penal Code Section 933.05 which says that the respondent shall respond to each finding.  He said the first finding is that there is enough attention paid to annual reports in order to foster accountability.  He said when he was first involved with the Library the Library Commission approved an annual report and each Commissioner signed off on the report.  He said another finding refers to problems with the bond program. 


Peter Warfield said the specific request is for the Library to respond to one specific recommendation but there are quite a number of comments in the Grand Jury report referencing specific things that have happened with respect to the Library and its bond program.  He said this Commission would do well to look into and prepare a response to some of the other issues the Grand Jury raised.  The Grand Jury said the report asked if citizens would have voted for Prop D had they known some of the problems that existed, so how he asked how will this be addressed?  He said the draft response is unfortunately not adequate in terms of insuring substantive issues will be addressed.  


Sue Cauthen, Chair Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), said the reason the LCAC adopted a resolution urging update of the BLIP website is because a member of the group had some issues finding information about an upcoming community meeting.  She said she tried to find information about a North Beach meeting that was held five years ago and could not find it.  She said it is important to have this information available to the public. 


Commission Discussion


President Gomez said there are a number of egregious errors and out of date information in the report so she wondered who from the library had been contacted during the investigation.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that no one from the library staff had been contacted and the Library was disappointed.  He said his understanding was that none of the Commissioners had been contacted nor staff from DPW or the Controller’s Office.


Commissioner Kane said he hoped that the City Attorney’s office was legally comfortable with the response.  He said he agrees that the website should be current and up to date and we need to look at having all the correct information available.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that staff is making progress on the new web design.  He said the whole point of the redesign is to enhance and improve the website.


Commissioner Kane said something should be added to the response to indicate that money had been added in the budget to update the website.   




MOTION: by Commissioner Harris, seconded by Commissioner Munson to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, August 21, 2008.



Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


ACTION:  AYES: 5-0 (Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).


The regular meeting of August 21, 2008, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:37 pm.


Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary


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).