Library Commission Minutes - June 28, 2001
Minutes of the special meeting of Thursday, June 28, 2001 (As approved amended August 7, 2001)
The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a special meeting on Thursday, June 28, 2001 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.
President Higueras called the meeting to order at 5:36 PM
The following members were noted present: Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, Steiman.
The Secretary reported Commissioners Streets and Swig excused attendance.
The Secretary reported that Commissioner Chin's arrival could be delayed.
AGENDA ITEM #1 BRANCH LIBRARY SITE SELECTION REPORT
City Librarian Susan Hildreth provided the Commissioners with a background summary of the branch library site search process to date. She then introduced Mr. Charlie Dunn of the Department of Real Estate, who gave a more detailed report on how the Library had first reviewed 7 or 8 potential branch library locations in each of the neighborhoods whose branch library was currently in rented facilities. Mr. Dunn noted that the community meetings held in these neighborhoods had provided important additional leads as well as called attention to potential sites that the Library had not considered. Mr. Dunn reported that based on preliminary reviews, the number of potential branch library locations being proposed for the Commission's preliminary consideration had been reduced to 2 or 3 locations in each of the neighborhoods. Mr. Dunn clarified that what he was requesting was that the Commissioners act to direct library staff and the Department of Real Estate to enter into discussions with the property owners of these potential branch library locations to further explore their availability for use by the Library. Mr. Dunn noted that he did not propose to present the Commissioners with a ranked list of recommendations but rather that he would gather data on economic and other factors that the Commissioners would need to weigh before making a choice. Mr. Dunn further observed that the Commission would have to request that the Board of Supervisors approve selection of the Library Commission's recommended choice for the new branch library location. Mr. Dunn outlined the basic criteria used in considering potential sites to be: a minimum of 7,000 sq. ft. of available space; a preference for a corner site; and location in a vacant space in a commercial rather than residential area. Mr. Dunn reported that the input from residents at the neighborhood community meetings on the proposed branch library locations had had a significant impact in reducing the numbers of potential locations from 7 or 8 to 3. At the suggestion of President Higueras, Mr. Dunn first presented the various proposed sites for the new Glen Park Branch Library.
Site A was identified as the "Kelly" site located at 2820 Diamond Street and its rear lot. Mr. Dunn explained that this location was 12,943-sq. ft. currently occupied by two-story building. He noted that the building was not deemed historically significant and that the property was immediately adjacent to city owned open space that would allow options for various entryways into the proposed site. Mr. Dunn also reported that thus far he had had no contact with the owner and did not know if the property was available for purchase.
Site B was reported as the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) District parking area located on Bosworth Street. This location was identified as having 8,000 sq. ft of available space and it was noted that the Transit District was eager to cooperate in developing this location for a joint use facility.
Site C was described as the location of a former and proposed neighborhood serving grocery store located at Diamond and Wilder Streets. Mr. Dunn noted that what was proposed for this location was a condominium project with the new branch library located on the second floor of a multistory building which would house a grocery on its ground floor. Mr. Dunn noted that there would be 8 to 10,000 sq. ft. available to the Library at this location and as the development project was already underway this location offered an opportunity to fast track development of the branch library if this site were chosen.
Public comment on Agenda Item #1 BRANCH LIBRARY SITE SELECTION REPORT (Glen Park sites)
Mr. Greg Elsner, a 20 year Moffett Street resident, expressed happiness that a new branch library was being proposed and noted that more than 30 people had attended the neighborhood meeting considering the potential locations. Mr. Elsner reported that a voice vote at that meeting had favored selection of Site A, the "Kelly" site noting that its corner location made it very accessible to neighbors and to travelers on BART as well as to nearby schools. Mr. Elsner reported that the members of the Glen Park Association also supported selection of Site A. Mr. Elsner also remarked that Site C had potential, but expressed concern with the library's second floor location. Mr. David Prowler, representing the developers of Site C, expressed happiness at its inclusion among the list of preferred sites. Mr. Prowler noted that the developer of this property was a neighborhood resident who bought the property in order to preserve the neighborhood serving market as well as to meet other neighborhood needs such as expanded space for the branch library. Mr. Prowler called Site C's location as the "Times Square" of Glen Park and noted that while the idea of a mixed use development might take getting used to, the entire project provided a great opportunity and some challenges for the neighborhood. Mr. Prowler noted that the developer proposed that the branch library would have a strong street level as well as second story presence and expressed confidence that any challenges could be overcome to make this project a success. Ms. Miriam Moss, a former school teacher and 26 year Glen Park resident, voiced opposition to the selection of Site C, particularly calling attention to the problems inherent in locating the branch library on the second floor over a grocery store. Ms. Moss found that Site A was preferred and commented that locating the branch library on the second level in a mixed use facility diminished its importance as an educational center in the community. Mr. Chris van Loben Sels, a resident of Wilder Street voiced strong opposition to selection of Site B. He noted that BART had demolished a significant portion of Wilder Street properties in order to build its station and that choice of Site B would impose further negative impacts on the residents of Wilder Street. Mr. van Loben Sels commented that development of the branch library on Site B would result in both privacy and security concerns for Wilder Street residents created by locating a multi-level facility on that site. Mr. Ed Regan noted that he was not a Glen Park resident but applauded the Library's efforts to purchase property for new branches. Mr. Regan recommended that such branches be located in business districts located on bus lines. Ms. Joanne Nordstrom, President of the Glen Park Merchants Association reported its unanimous support for the selection of Site B, the grocery development project, noting that this project was already under development and offered a great opportunity for getting the branch library going quickly. She further noted that this project offered an opportunity for a good architectural development in the busy heart of the neighborhood. Ms. Sybil Boutilier, a Glen Park resident, favored selection of Site A noting that the neighborhood wanted both a new grocery as well as a new branch library. Ms. Boutilier suggested that the Library should control its own facility and that a new branch located at Site A in the center of Glen Park Village would be close to BART, shopping, and schools. She found this to be the most beneficial location. Mr. Rube Warren, a Planner for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District, described the potential use of three different configurations for a facility located on Site B, the BART parking lot. Mr. Warren noted that it offered superior pedestrian access potential and suggested that the branch library could be built at grade level on Bosworth Street. Mr. Warren responded to some of the concerns raised by reporting that the BART District would conduct an architectural design charette for any proposed facility to suggest options to resolve the potential problems noted. Mr. Bruce Bammaker of the Glen Park Association and Glen Park Merchants Association suggested that Site C, the Diamond Super location offered the best option for enhancing the urban presence of the branch library in a central location. He further noted that the Branch Library was the only city facility in Glen Park and that it was therefore important to get this project moving. Mr. Bammaker also noted that Site B, the Diamond Super site, was the choice of the leadership of the community. Mr. Ed Rogan expressed disappointment at having missed the community meeting but noted that it was his sense that Site A, the "Kelly" site was the most attractive, calling it the cornerstone of the neighborhood. Mr. Rogan noted the importance of the Library controlling its own site and noted that the grocery store location was going to be developed in any event. Mr. Rogan found the BART site (Site B) unacceptably far from the center of the neighborhood favoring a "Main Street" location instead. Ms. Andrea O'Leary voiced her support for Site A noting that this neighborhood branch library had special needs and that locating at the "Kelly" site placed the branch library next to an open space area. She found this much preferable to what she termed the "industrial" character of the BART site (Site B) and problems posed by the grocery site (Site C). Mr. Michael Rice, Vice President of the Glen Park Association, noted that no site was ideal and that there were pluses and minuses to each. He identified Site A as the most favorable. Ms. Nora Dowley thanked Susan Hildreth City Librarian and Donna Corbeil, Library Chief of Branches for their efforts to involve the neighborhood fully in the process of replacing the branch library with a new facility. Mr. Peter Warfield, while noting he was not a Glen Park resident, observed that as a city resident that might wish to access the library in Glen Park he was concerned with its development. Mr. Warfield expressed displeasure that documents related to the site selection process were not available prior to the meeting, that he had wished to see what other sites had been considered, and that he felt that the entire process was closed. Mr. Warfield expressed the view that the Commission was being asked to rubber stamp recommendations without being made aware of other options. Mr. Warfield requested that information on a timetable for the development of the various branches be made available in order to provide more opportunities for members of the public to provide input.
Commission comment on Agenda Item #1 BRANCH LIBRARY SITE SELECTION REPORT (Glen Park sites)
Vice President Steiman, a Glen Park resident, discussed the many issues that had been discussed in the community meeting that had been held to gather neighborhood input into the site selection process. Commissioner Steiman observed that the new library needed to be a focal point of the neighborhood as were many of the Carnegie branch libraries the center of their neighborhoods. She expressed concerns with the 2nd floor location proposed for Site C as well as concerns that could arise during the projected long-term problems that could develop in a mixed use setting. Vice President Steiman indicated that she felt Site A, the "Kelly" site as the likely best location but noted that the owner may not wish to sell and use of the city's "eminent domain" power may not be possible when there are nearby alternative locations available. Vice President Steiman commented that she also had concerns with Site B, the BART site noting cost concerns as well as a dislike for a multistory garage that could be necessary if that site were chosen. Vice President Steiman expressed the wish that this site selection be very carefully considered with neither too much haste nor too long a delay in bringing a recommendation to the Commission. Commissioner Bautista expressed appreciation to the Glen Park neighbors who took part in this process and noted that she had visited the sites. She expressed her commitment to listen carefully to the input from the community in order understand the neighborhood's vision for their library and to give the community a sense of ownership of their new branch library. Commissioner Bautista commented that she found any of the three proposed sites acceptable, but wanted to give the wishes of the residents of Glen Park a major role in choosing which location was picked. Commissioner Coulter thanked the residents for their very active role in helping to choose the branch library's location. Commissioner Coulter asked Mr. Dunn to explain what would happen if the Commission was not satisfied with the recommendation for a site that resulted from the negotiations by library staff and the Department of Real Estate. Mr. Dunn responded with a very detailed discussion of the process which library staff and his Department would undertake to insure that there would be a complete workup on each of the proposed sites outlining in detail the weight given to various factors which would underlay their recommendations. Mr. Dunn noted that consideration would be given to both the acquisition as well as development costs within the limitations included in the bond issue. He also noted that Library Bond Project Manager Marilyn Thompson and City Bureau of Architecture staff would be actively involved in reviewing these sites. Vice President Steiman noted that as Glen Park is a major transit hub consideration should be given to selecting a site with potential for future expansion suggesting that there could be a need for a larger neighborhood library in the future. Commissioner Chin welcomed the neighborhood residents' comments and inquired concerning what yardstick the Department of Real Estate used to determine what a reasonable cost for a branch library site might be. Commissioner Chin cautioned that the Library Commission had to be fair to every neighborhood in making funds available for the various branch libraries. Ms. Hildreth noted that the bond program did include predetermined budget amounts for the various projects. Mr. Dunn responded that the Department of Real Estate was required to pay fair market value for properties that it acquired and that each location would be professionally appraised and recommendations would be made based on amounts within the limits of funds available for these projects in the bond program. City Librarian Susan Hildreth noted that the original timeline for the various branch libraries could be revised as circumstances changed to warrant bringing some projects forward earlier than originally proposed.
MOTION: By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Coulter to authorize the Department of Real Estate to negotiate and enter into purchase agreements with the property owners of the proposed Glen Park Branch Library sites and bring its recommendations for the selection of a Glen Park site to the Library Commission for its consideration, review, and approval.
ACTION: Aye 5-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, and Steiman)
AGENDA ITEM #1 BRANCH LIBRARY SITE SELECTION REPORT
(Visitacion Valley sites)
Mr. Dunn next described in extensive detail the similar process used by the Department of Real Estate to identify and evaluate seven or eight potential branch library sites in the Visitacion Valley neighborhood. Mr. Dunn noted that in this case as well the input by neighborhood residents at a community meeting concerning possible sites for the branch library was very useful, bringing to his Department's attention a location which had not been previously considered. Mr. Dunn noted that none of the three locations in the preliminary recommendations was perfect.
Mr. Dunn reported Site A as 75-83 Leland Avenue, a two parcel 11,764 sq. ft site in a mid-block currently occupied by a laundry. Mr. Dunn described the current layout as one building on three lots resulting in one parcel being landlocked and thus of lower value. He noted that selection of this property would require very creative design of the branch library because of the irregular shape of the property.
Mr. Dunn identified Site B as 201-231 Leland Avenue, a very large 16,000-sq. ft. location currently occupied by a neighborhood serving grocery store. He noted that it might be necessary to split this lot to recover some of the costs of its purchase, but also pointed out that this size would allow ample parking as well as opportunities for landscaping. A point against selection of Site B would be the loss of a neighborhood serving business.
Mr. Dunn then described Site C, 2500-2510 Bayshore Boulevard, an 8,000 sq. ft. property on a corner location currently occupied by an auto repair facility. Mr. Dunn noted concerns with this site as being the very busy traffic at Visitacion and Bayshore and the potential need to clean up toxic materials currently on the site.
Mr. Dunn reported to the Commissioners that so far none of the property owners had been contacted regarding purchase of these properties.
Public comment on Agenda Item #1 BRANCH LIBRARY SITE SELECTION REPORT (Visitacion Valley sites)
Mr. Marvin Seeman, a Visitacion Valley neighbor discussed the views expressed by neighborhood residents and library patrons at the neighborhood community meeting that took community comment on the potential branch library locations in Visitacion Valley, expressing a strong preference for the "Rutland" (Site B) site. Mr. Seeman noted that there were many negatives such as extensive traffic, the potential impact of the Third Street Light Rail Project, noise, and the great difficulty of access to the site for both drivers and pedestrians with the Bayshore auto repair shop site (Site C). Mr. Seeman noted that the "Rutland" site (Site B) better served the Visitacion Valley neighborhood, that in contrast to the Bayshore site the parking was good and that the grocery store location was closer to the majority of the neighborhood population. Mr. Seeman further noted that a bus line goes directly to the grocery location. He observed that the laundry site (Site A) offered little improvement over the existing location and that he strongly supported the "Rutland" site (Site B). Mr. Will Wagler commented that Visitacion Valley was undergoing an exciting renaissance, pointing to the recent creation of a public greenway stretching through the neighborhood and the community organizing which occurred concerning the proposed Home Depot. Mr. Wagler noted that the former Schlage Lock Co. site now offered opportunities for development of new town center. Mr. Wagler expressed a preference for a larger site for the branch library observing that a majority of residents found the Super Fair Market location the best potential site. Mr. Wagler noted that a major grocery could be developed on the Schlage Lock site lessening concerns about displacing an existing business. He pointed out the significant design limitations that proposed Site A would pose. Mr. Wagler recommended that the library develop the new branch as a "green" building so that the building would educate by example as much as the books it contained. An anonymous member of the public expressed regret at not offering comments concerning the Glen Park sites and pointed out that that in both these neighborhoods history had guided their development. This person commented that neighborhoods wanted strong services provided in a quiet intimate neighborhood setting. This individual commented on Commissioner Bautista's observation that the library should look to the neighborhood for its vision and noted that the neighbors were looking to the Library Commission to provide the leadership.
The anonymous member of the public commended President Higueras' commitment that the Commission would take a very active role in making sure that the library is served by the locations that are chosen. Mr. Ed Regan noted that he was glad that the library was getting these properties, but expressed his belief that it does little good to build additional libraries without expanding library hours. Ms. Aggie Shapiro, a lifetime resident of Visitacion Valley, informed the Commissioners of how much the library meant to the neighborhood. She expressed the hope that it could be located near schools, across from a church, and readily accessible to public transit. Ms. Shapiro expressed strong support for the "Rutland/Leland" site (Site B) as offering the best opportunity to create a wonderful new neighborhood center, like South San Francisco's Grand Avenue. Ms. Sue Cauthen, member of the Council of Neighborhood Libraries and San Francisco Tomorrow's Library Task Force noted that the Visitacion Valley Branch Library and other small branches had the fewest hours and expressed the hope that in addition to new facilities consideration could be given to additional hours. Ms. Dede Puma, Visitacion Valley Branch Librarian urged the Commission to choose the largest possible site, noting the need for additional space to accommodate future growth. Ms. Puma recommended that the Leland Avenue Site (Site B) be strongly considered. Ms. Puma thanked the community for attending the meeting and offering their comments. Mr. Peter Warfield, while noting that he was not a Visitacion Valley resident, expressed concern with the lack of availability of information concerning all of the sites considered and expressed a preference that explanatory materials be available earlier. Mr. Warfield seconded comments that choosing sites with additional space available for future expansion, such as is available at the Richmond Branch, allowed for opportunities for future growth.
Commission comment on Agenda Item #1 BRANCH LIBRARY SITE SELECTION REPORT (Visitacion Valley sites)
In response to a question by Vice President Steiman, Ms. Shapiro indicated that the Visitacion Valley neighbors clearly preferred the "Rutland" site (Site B). Vice President Steiman observed the resident's special insight into their needs should be given great consideration when making this choice and thanked the neighbors for their participation. President Higueras congratulated Mr. Dunn for this preliminary report and noted that the Commission looked forward to gathering more information and fully understanding the neighborhood's thoughts and insights on this matter. President Higueras noted that there were few "ideal" sites available, but that the point raised that the new libraries should not only provide excellent library services but also enhance the livability of the neighborhood's "Main Streets" would be a key element in the library's planning. President Higueras noted that the libraries figure prominently in addressing the livability of these neighborhoods. Commissioner Bautista called attention to the high population of children and young people in these neighborhoods and emphasized how important it would be that the most suitable locations be found for libraries to nurture education in these communities . She also expressed a preference that larger sites be chosen to facilitate future growth. Vice President Steiman expressed a concern that the actions of other city departments not limit the library's options to develop various sites. In response to questions by Commissioner Chin, Ms. Hildreth and Mr. Dunn indicated that the Grocery site (Site B) was strongly preferred over both of the other two sites unlike the case in Glen Park where all three sites had pros and cons. A neighborhood resident offered an explanation as to why there had not been any neighborhood interest in locating the library at the Schlage Lock site. Commissioner Chin commented on the importance of considering children's safety issues when reviewing these sites. At the request of President Higueras, the Secretary repeated the language of the previous motion concerning the Glen Park site. This provided President Higueras an opportunity to clarify the point that in Mr. Dunn's next report to the Commission on this matter in addition to the information concerning the acquisition costs of the parcels that the Commission wished Mr. Dunn to provide details of potential development costs as well. In response to questions by President Higueras, Mr. Dunn indicated that his next report on this matter might be available for Commission review by the end of August.
MOTION: By Commissioner Coulter, seconded by Commissioner Bautista to authorize the Department of Real Estate to negotiate and enter into purchase agreements with the property owners of the proposed Visitacion Valley Branch Library sites and bring the preferred alternative for the selection of a branch library site to the Library Commission for its consideration, review, and approval.
ACTION: Aye 5-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, and Steiman)
Agenda Item #2 PUBLIC COMMENT
Mr. Peter Warfield noted the concerns raised about potential toxic substances on some of the sites and asked that Mr. Dunn report the specific steps to be taken to investigate clean up of these toxic substances and how this would figure into the suitability to build on these sites. Mr. Chris van Loben Sels of Glen Park noted that there was no discussion of a double tier garage at the Community meeting, that there was longstanding and significant opposition to construction of a multi-tier garage in Glen Park, and that the cost of such a structure would significantly impact the differential costs of developing the BART site. Mr. Ed Regan recommended that all of the new facilities should have three stories. An anonymous member of the public commented that this person found a significant resonance in these discussions with a previous discussion of the relocation of the Glen Park Branch to a proposed large-scale development in the neighborhood that was opposed by the neighbors. This person noted that residents want developments to retain human scale to maintain the livability of the neighborhood rather than giant chain stores. The anonymous member of the public was pleased with the sensitivity that the Commission had shown to some of these issues and urged that all these developments be considered from an "on the street basis" and that it was a shame that a more programmatic look had not been taken when considering placements of these libraries, noting the lack of a library serving Diamond Heights patrons.
Agenda Item #3 - ADJOURNMENT
MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Bautista that the meeting be adjourned.
Public comment on Agenda Item #3 ADJOURNMENT
ACTION: AYE 5-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, and Steiman)
The meeting was adjourned at 7:30PM
Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 8/8/01
The number of members of the public who spoke anonymously at this meeting 1