Ocean Beach Library Expansionists Press City for ‘Seed Money’ to Begin

by on May 3, 2019 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach

OB Library Expansion Committee at City Hall, May 1, 2019: L to R: Laura Dennison, Mary Cairns, Tony Cataldo and Judy Collier

By Laura Dennison

The Ocean Beach Friends of the Library want to get the OB Library expanded, and May 1st down at City Hall was the beginning of that process for the coming fiscal year. Expansion committee members Mary Cairns, Tony Cataldo, Judy Collier and myself spoke to the San Diego City Council at the first of many fiscal year 2020 city budget hearings. (see photo)

Fourteen years ago, the City acquired the building and land between the OB Library and the Post Office on Santa Monica to expand the library. Known as the “Owen Building” and later as the “Gee Building,” the 1960s-era building was purchased with a $2 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for educational and/or cultural purposes. When the recession slowed the economy, the City could no longer afford the expansion.

The building remained as law offices and rental property management until the City decided not to renew the tenant leases expiring in 2017 and early 2018.  Then-Council Member Lorie Zapf allocated $140,000 for a study of the building and the feasibility of remodeling versus razing-and-building an expansion. The study concluded that the least expensive alternative was to level the current building (with outdated electrical, plumbing, insulation and accessibility) and build a brand new library to wrap around the existing historical structure that was built in 1928.

This year, an OB group that included the Friends of the Library, the OB Town Council and Planning Board, the OB Woman’s Club, the Historical Society and the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association sat down with Mayor Faulconer and asked that the OB Library Expansion become a reality. Mayor Faulconer stated, “It’s time to expand the OB Library!” and he directed the Public Works staff to create a 3-D rendering of what an expansion might look like.

Although expressing support for the OB Library Expansion, the Mayor’s FY 2020 preliminary budget did not include any money. The Friends committee met with Dr. Jennifer Campbell, the new District 2 Council Member. She urged the Friends and OBceans to write, email and call the Mayor, and to speak at the budget hearings.

At City Hall the Expansion Committee asked the City Council to consider our request for seed money ($500,000) to begin the expansion process. This will be an uphill battle. The Mayor’s budget has significant Library Department reductions, mainly in  Maintenance and Repair Services. However, monies were found to complete the new Mission Hills/ Hillcrest and San Ysidro Libraries.

The Expansion Committee asked the City Council to consider the following:

1.  The OB Library, started in 1916 and moving into the present facility in 1928, is the second oldest facility in the San Diego Public Library System.

2.  The OB Library expansion is at the top of the list for the 21st Century Library Improvement Projects.

3.  The City already owns the land to be used for expansion; no additional funds are necessary for land purchase.

4.  A feasibility study has already been conducted.  This is a green light for expansion.

5.  A 3-D rendering will be delivered by the end of May will help with potential donors.

6.  The OB Community needs an enlarged and free meeting space that is safe and accessible. The library can be just that place.

In summary, the Expansion Committee members are determined to get the OB Library expanded soon! For more information and to help, contact us at obfriendsofthelibrary@gmail.com

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie May 3, 2019 at 12:50 pm

What a photographic bunch! Who took the pic, Dan?


Vern May 3, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Love the OB Library!


Christo K May 4, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Potential donors?

Who would donate money on a library that has been taken over by homeless?

Better to spend those donations at PL Hervey where there are actually kids and students using it.


Kathy Blavatt May 5, 2019 at 4:56 am

The Ocean Beach Friends of the Library have been so dedicated for so many years. I love that Tony’s mom was such a part of the “Friends” and he has now has taken up the reins. It is always nice to see Laura Dennison smiling face at the programs and book sales. She and the others are so welcoming and hard working, you couldn’t ask for more dedicated volunteers. Their enthusiasm has paid off with the packed weekend programs they put on.
The library expansion is due, the previous plans were approved years ago, and the property next door was bought for the expansion. Much like the O.B. beach stair repair money going to La Jolla, the funding for the library expansion never came to fruition.
It is time for the City to keep their promise and and build the expansion.
The Ocean Beach Friends of the Library and OBceans deserve it!


Rufus May 5, 2019 at 6:25 am

Suggestion for the expansion. Get rid of the water using landscaping and go with something that prevents the urban pioneers from setting up camp. I don’t go to the OB library for this very reason.


Debbie May 5, 2019 at 9:38 am

Good idea! Why are the taxpayers paying for water and maintenance on landscaping the OB Library? I wonder if a bunch of OB landscapers and community members could get together and make a transformation and maybe that would entice donations.

And, no body is maintaining the rear building near the post off where trash and poop accumulate.

Lastly, thank you to the volunteers who donate their time so generously.


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