Library Commission moves beyond 100 Orizaba site
Will There Be a New Library?
••••••• January 17, 2024 •••••••
Arecent Chronicle article publicized Supervisor Safai's complaints that the Mayor was ‘putting the brakes’ on the Oceanview Library project in his district at 100 Orizaba Avenue in the Brotherhood Way Greenbelt. The Greenbelt has always been the preferred location for the Oceanview Library for Supervisor Safai. In the early planning stage of this library, Supervisor Safai said numerous times the library must be on the Greenbelt or not at all.
Few were surprised when Supervisor Safai learned the library was not to be there — he feared the worst. No library at all. Supervisor Safai's disappointment stems largely from the lack of opportunity to build on this pristine location in the future.
NEW LOCATION FOR THE LIBRARY
Since June 2023, the Library Commission has been considering a different location for the Oceanview Library. The proposed new location on Randolph Street is where the I.T. Bookman Community Center and the Pilgrim Community Church are located. The site would be bought from the church, and the City would make improvements to the library, church and community center that all agree on.
The plan is for a public/private partnership between the Pilgrim Community Church and the Library Commission. That would mean demolishing the two buildings, and the new Oceanview Library would take their place in this central location of the Oceanview district. The advantages here are many, including extremely wide streets and M streetcar service with handicap ramps near a commercial district in the Oceanview district.
COMMUNITY SERVICES VERY ACTIVE HERE
The church, community center, and library would all be combined into one building. Areas used for church service could easily become spaces for community meetings.
One proposal would provide senior housing in the new structure. That would allow staff at I.T. Bookman to be closer to those they usually care for in the neighborhood. Since they have a kitchen, staff members provide cooked meals, transportation, health services, music and other support services for their community. For I.T. Bookman, having their clients in the same building would make caring for them far more manageable.
BETTER ACCESS FOR PUBLIC
As you can see, the handicap ramps are a perfect distance for visitors to reach the church, community center, or the new library. The previously envisioned Greenbelt library, located at 100 Orizaba Avenue, was on a steep grade and was two blocks from the M streetcar.
A library on Randolph would be next to an emerging shopping district in Oceanview, while the library planned for the Greenbelt was closer to the Merced Extension Triangle Neighborhood.”
ROOF GARDEN OPPORTUNITIES
With the new construction plan, ideas that would not have been available at the old location for the community center become possible. The kitchen at the community center wished for organic, fresh vegetables. That was a problem because the backyard was in deep shade, and vegetables would not grow there. With the new plan, a roof garden is possible, with all the sun needed for a healthy crop of vegetables.
The space for the new library is enormous. The new plan can support play areas for children as long as guardrails are present. For active youth, there will be room for sports courts. The library's proximity to the community makes more sense because more people can take advantage of the new facilities. The previously planned location at 100 Orizaba Avenue, the old site considered, is on the periphery of Oceanview.
STIMULATING COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT
A library on Randolph would be next to an emerging shopping district in Oceanview, while the library planned for the Greenbelt was closer to the Merced Extension Triangle Neighborhood. METNA has an objection to the building of the library on the Greenbelt. That objection is that no new housing occur on the Greenbelt.
IS THE LAND FREE?
The most compelling reason for the library to be at 100 Orizaba Avenue was that the land is “free.” However, having obtained confidential emails between government agencies on this matter (due to “CA Public Records Act, § 6250 et seq. and the SF Sunshine Ordinance, Article 3, § 67.25), this land is not recommended to be given away for free. Instead, these agencies are recommending a transfer of funds between the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the San Francisco Library at a percentage of its true value. 2 An exception to this could occur if there is a jurisdictional transfer of the land approved by the Board of Supervisors. However, it seems counterintuitive to spend millions of dollars on planning and transportation research before a funding source is obtained, especially when the site is on a historic stream bed with organic soils, an earthquake fault, and the sun blinding drivers passing by the library — a place where children will be drawn..
TWO CONSTRUCTION OPTIONS
It is possible for the old Oceanview Library at 345 Randolph Street to become the new location for the I.T. Bookman Community Center. Understandably, this would considerably reduce space and may not be acceptable to the neighborhood.
Another possibility in constructing the Oceanview Library/I.T. Bookman Center is that the Pilgrim Community Church must be demolished first, allowing the I.T. Bookman Community Center to function nonstop for its patrons. Then, when new construction is complete, where the church was demolished, a new I.T. Bookman Community Center could be built. Then, moving all office equipment, kitchen supplies, and furniture back into the new building from the old, could occur without any loss in service.
MAYOR PICKED A BETTER LOCATION
The library financial committee has put aside $4 million for the Oceanview Library’s construction in December 2023. Supervisor Safai’s belief that the library in Oceanview is history is far from true. I think the Mayor has shown good judgment in this new location for the Oceanview Library on Randolph Street. Evidently, the Pilgrim Community Church clergy and laity do too.
LAW TO DENY OCEANVIEW LIBRARY ON RANDOLPH ST.
Rather than allow the Library Planning Commission to pick the best site for this library, Supervisor Safai is asking to have an Ordinance passed by the Rules Committee to only allow the Oceanview Library to be built at the Brotherhood Way Greenbelt location (File #240017). The ordinance will be reviewed this January 29, 2024 on Monday at City Hall in Room 250 at 10 am. He is one of the members of the Rules Committee and we can be sure how he will vote. As it stands now, this process appears to all the earmarks of a “backroom deal.”
Glenn Rogers, RLA
Landscape Architect / License 3223
January 17, 2024