Library Commission Minutes - November 28, 2001
Minutes of the special meeting of Wednesday, November 28, 2001. (As approved December 20, 2001).
The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a special meeting called by the Commission President on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.
The meeting was called to order at 1:09 PM by President Higueras.
The following members were noted present: Commissioners Chin, Coulter, Higueras, and Steiman.
Commissioners Bautista, Streets and, Swig were noted excused attendance.
AGENDA ITEM #1 MISSION BAY BRANCH LIBRARY LETTER OF INTENT
The City Librarian gave a brief overview of the proposal to create a Mission Bay Branch Library. Ms. Hildreth then introduced Ms. Marcia Rosen, Executive Director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to make a presentation on the Agency's proposed terms for the development of the new branch library as an element in a proposed affordable senior housing development.
Ms. Rosen reminded the Commission of her first presentation concerning this project as Director of the Mayor's Office of Housing two years ago and brought the Commissioners up to date concerning the ongoing development projects in Mission Bay. Ms. Rosen cited the work of Amy Neches, and Matt Schwartz of the Redevelopment Agency staff in bring this project forward and she outlined in some detail the housing and social infrastructure developments planned for the new branch library's neighborhood. The Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency then described the parcel where the combined senior affordable housing development and the new branch library would be created on the corner of 4th and Berry Streets. Ms. Rosen noted that the library would have the prime corner of the building, have shared use of a community meeting facility, its own principle entry, and design elements to emphasize its presence. Ms. Rosen called this project a model of inter-agency cooperation to provide affordable housing and neighborhood social infrastructure and cultural resources for this new neighborhood. She noted that Mercy Housing would be the master developer of the site and would manage the affordable senior housing.
Ms. Rosen then outlined the points of the proposed agreement between the Library and the Redevelopment Agency. She reported that restrictions imposed on Redevelopment Agency projects by the Mission Bay Plan and by agreements with Catellus limited use of the donated parcels to affordable housing and supportive uses and limited other use to non-profit uses that would not compete with Catellus' development plans. Ms. Rosen further explained that terms of the Owner Participation Agreement prohibited any real estate gain on projects developed on donated parcels. Ms. Rosen observed that the land in this case would be transferred to the Library at no cost, and that the Library would assume the costs of any tenant improvements. Ms. Rosen additionally noted the Redevelopment Agency requested that the Library commit to use of this facility as a branch library operated with certain days and hours until June 30, 2009. She noted that afterward the Library would be allowed to use the facility for limited other uses consistent with uses found in similar branch libraries. Ms. Rosen observed that the Redevelopment Agency was mandated to get a reverter clause in the proposed agreement to assure compliance with its agreements and mission. Such an agreement would give the Redevelopment Agency the right to reclaim the property and repurchase it for the Library's cost should the Library fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.
The Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency then discussed the proposed development and construction schedule for this project calling for action by the Commissions by March 2002, finalizing the financing by next Summer, and the beginning of construction in late 2002 or early 2003.
The City Librarian then introduced Deputy City Attorney Donnell Choy who provided the Commissioners with a point by point description of the proposed terms of agreement ultimately to lead to a final purchase and sale agreement between the Redevelopment Agency and the Library. Mr. Choy further noted that detailed C.C. and R. agreements governing all shared uses and any needed easements as well as agreements governing access and other condominium issues would also be negotiated prior to the final agreement. Mr. Choy pointed out that under the terms of the agreement the Redevelopment Agency would divide the parcel and create two ground leases, one for the Library and one for the remainder of the building. Mr. Choy reported that the final purchase price had not been set, but that a price and arrangements concerning any change orders would be determined before the agreement was submitted to the Commission prior to its making its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on this project. Mr. Choy additionally reported that according to the proposed agreement all change orders would be subject to the Library's approval. In addition, he noted that the Library would receive access to a shared meeting facility and ability to lease two parking spaces. Mr. Choy then outlined the issues raised by the reverter clause and addressed the Library's rights should it decide to sell its parcel. Mr. Choy reported that the proposed agreement provided that should the Redevelopment Agency fail to deliver the project, that the Library would be repaid all of its costs.
City Librarian Susan Hildreth next outlined the ongoing efforts of library staff to work with the Redevelopment Agency and Mercy Housing on the preliminary designs for this project. Ms. Hildreth reported that it was anticipated that the project could be built for an amount within the $3.6 million identified in the Branch Bond program for this branch.
Public comment on AGENDA ITEM #1 MISSION BAY BRANCH LIBRARY LETTER OF INTENT
An anonymous member of the public recalled that other projects had been termed a visionary partnership which could serve as a model and that in this person's view this proposal was a blank check/pig in a poke. This anonymous member of the public noted that the Capital Improvement Advisory Committee had reduced the amount of the proposed branch library bond issue because the land in Mission Bay was to be donated at no cost. This individual additionally noted that the terms of the Mission Bay Agreement mandated that the developers donate the land. This person cited the bad experience of the Law Library formerly housed in the Russ Building as evidence of the problems inherent in a shared facility. The anonymous member of the public suggested that the Library was offering to create an amenity and was being charged market rate and could be being used to make up other costs of this project with Library funds. Mr. Ed Regan commented that he opposed the project because the library would be in a shared building. Mr. Regan questioned the description of the location of the proposed site, noted opposition to a proposed children's room, and agreed 4th and Berry was a good location near CalTrain. Mr. Peter Warfield found this to be a very favorable arrangement for the Redevelopment Agency and the developers but not for the Library. Mr. Warfield expressed concern with provisions that appeared to shackle the Library in its operations, use, and costs of this facility. Mr. Warfield cited a number of provisions that he believed locked the Library into levels of service without regard to use of the facility and committed the Library into the indefinite future to operate this branch with ironclad guarantees that no other branch library had. Mr. Warfield also noted a large number of other costs related to shared use with very vague description of the Library's rights to disagree.
Commission comment on AGENDA ITEM #1 MISSION BAY BRANCH LIBRARY LETTER OF INTENT
Ms. Rosen clarified that the mandated donations of land in Mission Bay were specifically for use as affordable housing and supportive purposes. Ms. Rosen noted that this is an "at cost" arrangement and that the Library would only be asked to pay for costs related to the branch library. Ms. Rosen additionally noted that the purpose of the Redevelopment Agency was to develop this property for the benefit of the people of San Francisco and that a branch library in a prominent location was complementary and supportive of the affordable housing development. Vice President Steiman commented that Ms. Rosen had explained the Redevelopment Agency's goals and mandate well but that she must understand that the Library Commission had a mandate as well to create assets for the library system. Vice President Steiman suggested that this arrangement was unacceptable to her as presented, noting that the use restrictions imposed limits on the Library's future options. Vice President Steiman enumerated several additional objections and problems that she saw in the proposed terms noting that in effect the Library would be paying for a long-term lease with all of the payment up front. Vice President Steiman suggested that a purpose of the bond program was to purchase assets for the Library.
In response to questions by Commissioner Coulter, Mr. Charlie Dunn of the Real Estate, Division, Administrative Services Department explained the relative merits of this proposed arrangement in contrast to the condominium terms the Library Commission had approved for the Glen Park Branch Library. Mr. Dunn noted that in the case of the Glen Park condominium, the Library could sell it subject only to the usual planning and zoning controls for that neighborhood. In contrast, the reverter clause in the Mission Bay Branch Library agreement would only allow the Library to recover its costs and any depreciated tenant improvements it had made to the facility.
In response to a question by President Higueras, Ms. Rosen explained that this land was limited in the uses allowed and that it was unlikely that the Library could build an 8,000 sq. ft. facility anywhere else in the neighborhood for the price of this facility. Ms. Rosen additionally observed that the Library would not face the risks inherent in the real estate market with this arrangement. Ms. Hildreth commented that she believed that this proposed facility would be large enough to meet any likely need in the neighborhood, pointing out that this would be the closest branch to the Main Library. In response to questions by Commissioner Chin, the City Librarian discussed the difficulties in trying to combine the proposed Mission Bay library with a proposed school to be developed on another parcel in a much less accessible part of the development. Ms. Hildreth further reported that the planned branch would offer the full range of children's services available at similar size branch libraries. In answer to questions by Commissioner Coulter, Ms. Rosen outlined the projected demographic development and build out of housing for Mission Bay that would form a patron base for the branch library. Ms. Rosen also highlighted the extensive public transit connections that would be located in the immediate area of the proposed branch library. The City Librarian observed that this branch could also draw significant users from the South of Market neighborhoods, South Beach, and residents using public transit in the area. Commissioner Coulter suggested revised terms only requiring the Library to operate this branch in the same manner as other similar branches would be more acceptable to him.
President Higueras discussed the challenges offered by this proposal in light of the fact that the Library's option to purchase land had been largely eliminated by the decision by the Capital Improvement Advisory Committee (CIAC) to cut funds for the purchase of a Mission Bay site from the amount included in the bond issue. President Higueras noted that this could produce a very important asset for that neighborhood. He suggested that while this may not be ideal it was the best option possible. President Higueras commented that the partnership with the affordable senior housing development could be a win/win for everyone. President Higueras further observed that once the branch library was created that it would be very unlikely that it would be closed. President Higueras noted that the Library Commission had to be realistic about its options.
Expressing concern with some of the terms, Commissioner Chin remarked that the Commission had a duty to define libraries use and manage its libraries. She additionally expressed concern that the common areas of the proposed facility be maintained to the highest standards and not allowed to deteriorate.
President Higueras thanked Ms. Rosen, Mr. Choy, and Mr. Dunn for their hard work in developing this proposed partnership and expressed confidence the future of the cooperative effort.
Agenda item #2 PUBLIC COMMENT
An anonymous member of the public thanked the Commissioners for what this person felt had been a real discussion. This individual recalled the previous example of the Main Library, termed a visionary partnership that would serve as a model, suggesting that many claims were made that proved untrue. The anonymous member of the public cited a 1988 video tape produced by the Library and the telephone company which contained many inaccuracies and glittering claims and noted that even if these claims had been true they were not worth the damage to our democracy. Mr. Ed Regan requested that the Commission calendar discussion of expanded public service hours, and suggested in view of the events of September 11th that exterior fire escapes and manually operated elevators be installed in the Main Library. Ms. Deetje Boler described the proposed arrangement as a lose/lose situation. Ms. Boler underlined concerns that this would spread thin the Prop. E operating hours and that it would be preferable that this space be used to develop affordable housing given the very great need. Ms. Boler suggested that it would be wise to wait on this project and focus the Library's attention on addressing existing space needs. Mr. Peter Warfield expressed appreciation for comments offered by members of the public and the Commissioners. Mr. Warfield restated comments made by Mr. Dunn concerning the issue of ownership of this facility, and the City Librarian's comments related to the population base that is usually served by a branch library. Mr. Warfield noted that he had requested that a needs analysis and survey of who this library would serve be done. Mr. Warfield suggested that there would not even be the minimum number of people to be served by this branch in the projected future. Mr. Warfield suggested that revised versions of documents available to the public be more clearly marked to indicate which version they were and that these documents be posted on the Library's website.
Agenda Item #3 ADJOURNMENT
MOTION: by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Coulter that the meeting be adjourned.
Public comment on Agenda item #3 ADJOURNMENT
ACTION: AYE 4-0 (Chin, Coulter, Higueras, and Steiman)
The meeting was adjourned at 2:38PM.
Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 12/5/01
The number of members of the public who spoke anonymously at this meeting. 1
Please note: Copies of Commission Minutes and handouts are available in the Office of the Commission Secretary, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102