Minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 18, 2008


(As approved at the Regular Meeting of October 16, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, September 18, 2008, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:35 pm.


Commissioners present: Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane and Munson


Commissioner Lee was excused.


President Gomez acknowledged a very generous gift from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library in the amount of $750,000 to support programs at the library.  The gift was celebrated at a reception prior to the meeting.




An anonymous citizen said what we hear is that if the Friends and Foundation didn’t pay for the chairs in the library, the public would be sitting on the floor.  He said the Statue of Liberty, Patrick Henry, and Martin Luther King Jr. did not ask for a free breakfast.  He said they all saw a public society with public values.  He said an enormous amount of work has been done to reduce the corrosive influence of private money.  He said there are conflict of interest laws, financial disclosure laws, and open government sunshine laws to reduce the corrosive effect of private money.  He said the influence of private money has a corrosive effect on democracy. 


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) said the LCAC adopted a Resolution on Library Bathroom Access and Maintenance.  She distributed the Resolution to the Commission and asked to have it included with the minutes.  She said one of the LCAC members had an issue with the cleanliness of the Chinatown branch and at the Main Library so they are asking that the bathrooms are open, clean and in good working order.  They also recommended that a periodic restroom maintenance schedule be adhered to for all bathrooms in the system.  She distributed a letter from the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods about the North Beach Library and said they were concerned with the environmental issues. 


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said for the last several years Friends has created a track record of wonderful collaboration and openness with the Library, the Commission, and the community through their donors.  She said this year Friends will be contributing nearly $4 million to the Library including the $750,000 presented at the reception today for programs.  She said there will also be $2,325,000 for capital support, more than $850,000 for in kind volunteer support, and direct donations of materials to the library.  She said over the last ten years they have donated nearly $20 million.  She said they just found out yesterday that the Koret Foundation has awarded $1 million to the Neighborhood Library Campaign.


Peter Warfield said there are times when credit is taken for donations that are intended to help the library and the Friends act as a pass through mechanism so that shouldn’t obscure the fact that the money is given with the intention of helping the library.  He said unnoted since July is something that happened at the Board of Supervisors when they approved the fees the library is authorized to charge to patrons.  He said these fees got 4 votes in opposition.  He said these fees included the authorization to allow the library to charge $115 for a book that is lost via the Link+ system.  He said it is up to the owning library of whether they will accept a lesser fee or replacement of the item.  He said that is an unfortunate situation.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said there were at least two areas where crucial discussions were represented accurately.  He said the items he passed out to the Commission were reflected in the minutes, but were not attached to the Minutes.  He said on page 9 the minutes reflect a discussion about the Civil Grand Jury report.  He said the City Librarian said no one from the library had been contacted.  He said he gave the City Librarian a copy of the law relating to the Civil Grand Jury investigation.  He gave a definition of hornswoggled. 


Peter Warfield said he thought they had put to rest the issue of the spelling of hornswoggled.  He said he is less pleased with these minutes than previous ones.  He said his comments on pages 1 and 2 did not represent what he said.  On page 2 he said the anonymous citizen gave a definition of the word hornswoggled.  He said it meant the Commission had been deceived and that was not reflected in the minutes.  He said the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) had passed a resolution which summarized what the City Librarian and Deputy City Librarian had told the LCAC and that had turned out to be not true.


Commissioner Chin left the meeting.


MOTION: by Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo, to approve the minutes of August 21, 2008 with a correction to the motion on page 2 approving the minutes of July 17 to read “with a correction to the spelling of the word horns woggled or hornswoggled (deceived)” on page 1.


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


Commissioner Chin returned to the meeting.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the library staff, the Budget Manager, the BLIP team, and the City Attorney’s Office have worked closely to develop the memorandum dated September 18, 2008.  He said the memorandum outlines the history and process of the sale of lease revenue bonds including: debt authority under Proposition D (November 2007); Proposed Lease Revenue Bond Sales; and the Lease Revenue Bonds Process.


Maureen Singleton, Budget Manager, said the library is proposing issuing revenue bonds to complete the BLIP projects.  She explained the authority to issue those bonds under Proposition D approved on November 6, 2007.  She explained the process for the sale of lease revenue bonds.  She said the library is proposing two sales of lease revenue bonds to complete six projects:  Anza, Golden Gate Valley, Bayview, Merced, Ortega and North Beach.  She said the first sale in January 2009 would be for construction, design and program costs.  She said a second sale in the summer of 2009 would be for construction and program costs.  She said the first sale would be approximately $34 million, consisting of approximately $30.6 million for program and $3.3 million for bond issuance and related costs.  She said it is based on a 25-year repayment term and an estimated 6.5% interest rate.  She explained the lease revenue bond debt service payment and projected revenue growth over FY 07.  She explained the tentative schedule for the sale of the bonds.  She said the next step is to come back to the Commission on October 2, 2008 for approval of the sale.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this is a proposal which takes a great deal of study.  He said the original memo did not give any revenue projections so he was grateful the presentation did include those.  He said the City Charter forbids revenue bonds with exceptions.  He said Proposition D approved by the voters was alleged to be within those exceptions.  He said offering the Main Library as collateral is not quite what the people were told.  He said the issuing costs themselves are a concern.


Peter Warfield said it is easy to make jokes on how words are spelled but the meaning of the discussion was about deception.  He said unfortunately this bond sale presents some new aspects to the bond program that were never mentioned at the time Proposition D was discussed or passed.  He said it was never said that the Main Library would be used as collateral for loans 25 years in length.  He said he has strong problems with the Main Library being the guarantor of loans that are supposed to be for the purpose of renovating or rebuilding branch libraries.  He said the cost is huge.  He said the structure is enormously expensive compared to pay as you go or some other form of payment.  He said the fees and costs need to be looked at closely.  He said operating costs could be impacted.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane asked about the lease structure and the purpose of the collateral.


Nadia Sesay, Director of the Office of Public Finance, said under the lease structure under State law you are required to have an asset of security for the debt.  She said they are continuing to observe the market rates.  She said the estimate is highly conservative for interest rates.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, responded to a question from Commissioner Kane and said the construction costs for Bayview and North Beach would be part of the proposed second sale.  He said the first sale includes design costs.  He said there is a requirement on using the Main Library as collateral that the building would remain a library and in case of default the City would pick up the loan.


Commissioner Chin asked how often this process is done.


Nadia Sesay, Director of the Office of Public Finance, said the City has done this for a lot of different projects.  She said by having the Main Library as security it does lower the interest rate over time.   She said it is done all over the country.


Commissioner Chin asked about the Golden Gate Valley branch.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said they are aware that this is one of the most expensive renovation projects.  He said there is a lot of excavation required for the seismic strengthening and it is a historic building and we need to keep the architectural integrity of the building. 


Commissioner Munson said this may seem like an unusual tool, but it is used frequently.  He said you are dealing with a cash flow stream and an asset, so it is like a guarantee.






Luis Herrera, City Librarian, referred to a memo to the Commission and said in March, 2007 the Library Commission adopted revised schedules for the remainder of the BLIP projects.  He said the projects have been broken up into three groups.  Group I includes projects that are progressing with design or construction and on time and include Anza, Merced and Richmond.  He said Group II includes projects which are in construction with schedule delays and include Bernal Heights, Eureka Valley, Ingleside, Portola and Potrero.  He said Group III includes projects with schedule changes for projects in design and include Bayview, Golden Gate Valley, North Beach, Ortega, Park, Parkside, Presidio and Visitacion Valley.  


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this is a management tool that shows the last adopted schedule with forecast schedule and asks the Commission to approve the forecast schedule.  He said he is grateful that this has been brought to the Commission and said it is too bad we don’t have this for all the previous changes to the schedule.  He said it highlights some issues the Commission should be asking about.  He said the delay in the Park branch should bring up a red flag.


Peter Warfield said thank you to the Commissioners and the members of the public for pushing for this.  He said additional details would be useful.  He said under Group II, Potrero does have a cost impact and it does not have that cost included.  He said Group III will also have cost impacts but that they are being evaluated and will be presented to the Commission as soon as they are available.  He said not seeing the related cost is unfortunate.  He said the role of the Commission is as a policy setting body and to provide direction.  He said Ortega and Visitacion Valley have a reference to the delay being in part for re-design to LEED standards.  He said he has asked before and has not received an answer on what the Library’s policy is on LEED standards.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane said going forward this will be very helpful for the Commission to see where we are.  He had questions about changes to the schedule and costs for construction delays.


Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager, said an 8% annual escalation is being used for delays in construction costs.


Commissioner Kane said some of the projects have sizable delays.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there are some process issues causing some of the delays.


Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager said both the Park and Presidio branches were awarded to a joint partnership and that has caused some delays.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches said it was the first time these architects have worked together and they are part of a new pool of architects that have been selected.


Commissioner Kane said an eight month delay is unacceptable.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the actual costs will be brought back to the Commission for action as early as October.


Commissioner Munson asked if the preliminary budgets before the Commission include the costs for the delays in the projects.


Luis Herrera responded to Commissioner Munson that the preliminary budgets do include the costs for the delays. 


MOTION: by Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Chin to approve the September 2008 forecast schedule.


AYES: 6-0 (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane, and Munson)   




Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager, said along with the regular reports there would be a special report on the Merced Branch Peer Review Response.    She said as of 4/17/08 the approved budget was $147,362,986.  She said budget changes will be brought to the Commission next month for approval to reflect the changes to the schedule approved by the Commission. She said the schedule report is a summary level report that is broken down by project in alphabetical order and is available at the back of the room.  She said the schedule has been updated this month for the 16 active projects.  She said each project has the original schedule, the last approved schedule and the forecasted schedule.  She gave the status of the program and said that 6 property acquisitions are complete; 8 projects are complete and open; 6 projects are in construction and 10 branches are in planning and design.  She showed photographs and gave reports on the following projects in construction: Richmond, Portola, Ingleside, Bernal Heights, Eureka Valley, and Potrero.  She gave updates on projects in design including Parkside, Visitacion Valley, Anza, Ortega, Merced and Bayview.  She said other active projects are Park, Presidio, and Golden Gate Valley.  She said the Commission adopted a Resolution recommending the triangle site for the North Beach Branch Library and the Recreation and Park Commission will be discussion a similar resolution at their meeting today.  She gave a summary of public outreach.   She said the special report this month is the design review response to the Merced Branch Library peer review.  She said the Merced Peer Review was held at the Library Commission meeting on March 20, 2008. 


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, explained the responses to the Peer Review on four key issues: 1) Questions about whether this was the best location for the new addition; 2) Questions about whether the addition has the highest and best uses; 3) Concern about separating the staff functions into two areas; and 4) Concern that the main entry is not readily visible and may create security concerns especially at night.   


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the graphics in the handouts are too small to read.  He said with respect to the Portola Branch, he questioned whether that was 94% complete based on the photographs shown.  He said with respect to Bernal Heights the sidewalk does show improvement since he mentioned it at the last meeting.  He said the Merced Peer Review response did not give a complete response on the concerns brought up about the entryway.


Peter Warfield said the Bond Program Manager’s oral report gave information on the approved changes and percentages complete, but that was not specifically included in the handouts.  He said it would be useful to have that information on the handouts.  He said thank you for having the nice floor plan, but the area of the addition could have been shown better on the plan.  He said he was not sure the issues about the entry were adequately addressed.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane asked about the Richmond Branch and said he thought it was ahead of schedule last month and now it shows that it is on schedule.  He said he saw very few changes to the Merced Branch so he was wondering if the community is happy about the design.


Lena Chen said we have very conservative estimates on the schedules. 


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said there was a community meeting shortly before the Merced Peer Review.  He said the feedback we got at all the community meetings on the Merced Branch was very favorable. 


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there was only one community member who was critical of the expansion in the front of the building.


Commissioner Kane asked about the issue about the workforce at the Ingleside Branch.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that we are working with CityBuild on the issue of hiring local workers.  He said one of the issues was the restrictions on the age of the workers.






MOTION: by Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Munson to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, September 18, 2008.


Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


ACTION:  AYES: 6-0 (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane and Munson).


The regular meeting of September 18, 2008, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:13 pm.


Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary


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).