OB, the New Ocean Beach Library Design Needs Your Input

by on June 2, 2022 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Carson Davis

On Tuesday night, May 31st, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego was filled to the brim with some of the most dedicated community members Ocean Beach has to offer.

From the man who traced his roots in Ocean Beach back to 1963 when he was just 12 years old, and now is an expansive landowner who sat before the panel. Or the local “Friends of the OB Library,” a group of community elders all in their matching aqua colored t-shirts ready to speak their mind and secure the brightest future for their beloved library. Everyone involved in the forum on May 31st had only the best intentions, but what was the goal of all this passion?

As I am sure you are already aware if you are reading this on the OB Rag, the local Ocean Beach library is due for an expansion.

Despite a brutal first public forum, the panel members kept it cool. I was not at this first apparent disastrous meeting, but judging from how the moderator Corey Bruins started this one off by saying, “First off we are all humans, if you cannot treat us like humans then this isn’t the meeting for you,” I imagine it was not a very calm and collected crowd.

The panel went over every slide, [Go here for the silent video of new designs] and made sure to stop before moving on to take questions and suggestions from the community. Three potential designs were displayed and discussed:

A “Modern Spanish Monterey” style which proposed building a high-ceiling, multi window-pane conference room behind the current historic library building.

A “Modular Flexibility” version which has lower ceilings, wood blinders and a pointed-sloped roof similar to the current building.

And finally a “Modern/Movement” design which incorporated a reddish/brownish stucco on the exterior high-ceiling walls, which gives this design a lot more color and vibrancy to the exterior.

Of all the designs showcased the panel made sure to reiterate that these were not final, still “work in progress” concepts.

Each of the designs would

  • overhaul the interior of the existing library as well,
  • making room for a full and complete staff break room (of which there is not one at all currently),
  • a kids area with foam floors and activities to make sure the young ones are having fun too.
  • The conference room would be supported by a new outdoor patio overlooking Santa Monica Ave., with an accessibility ramp to boot.

There was some brief discussion from my favorite aqua t-shirt wearing elders about the interior being too spread out for just one staff member to be able to maintain. But the panel kept assuring everyone that these concepts were “work in progress” and subject to change.

The panel was hosted by Corey Bruins, the president of the Ocean Beach Town Council, and included Misty Jones the current director of the City of San Diego Library, Elif Cetin, the deputy director of Engineering Capital Projects for the City, and two of Elif’s staff on the project, Shannon Getz and Chris Ruvalcaba.

Every detail the panel brought up for discussion was supplemented with one point they made clear: they want your input! They need your input!

Displayed at all of their discussion panel boards, as well as projected behind the panel the whole forum was their survey link: Here. In it you can go concept by concept and give your input and feedback directly to the people responsible for making it happen.

Although at least from the discussion I heard, it didn’t seem like much was being taken into consideration that hour. The “work in progress” status of the three concepts was thrown around a lot in these discussion sections, almost as a way to give the community some satisfaction that their voice was being heard but not having to follow through on any of their ideas.

Though I do give the panel board credit —  it is a showing of good faith that they organized this forum in the first place. Yet, it would have been very risky with this community if they had just locked in their concept and gone through with the design without hearing the community at all.

Obviously not the fault of the panel, some suggestions they heard were not very useful. Like the radiantly-brilliant idea to swap the bathrooms with the patio. Giving the new patio a luxurious view of the parking lot behind the building, and basically putting the bathrooms on display onto Santa Monica Ave.

Or the man dressed in his rundown uggs, loose bathing suit, ill-fitting tank top, and clean and tidy trucker hat who talked about how he and his “team” were going to completely revamp Ocean Beach by 2030. His idea was to make the annex for the library into a sort of generator for the building? I tried to understand what he was pitching, but I couldn’t make out one specific idea, more a jumbled glob of hundreds.

In any case, the library will have solar panels on the roof to power the building, as per the state mandate, as well as EV charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot.

As this project does have a mysterious anonymous donor pitching $3 million, there were some questions about the donor and any limitations or deadlines they may have set. Of course there was some poking and prodding as to who this donor is, but the only yield was that this donor will pitch $3 million dollars when the designs are ready to build.

From what the panel said, there were no restrictions on what kind of design, time limits or deadlines; it is “just part of the total package of what it takes to get the library built.”

Which brings up the question of why there is so much talk of “restrictions” and “money efficiency,” if there was more than six times the initial budget coming in. Money constrictions are one of the main factors the panel cited as to why they brought the design in-house, instead of a more expensive private architect. But stopping this line of questioning dead, it was around this time that one community member stood up and plainly asked “Why can’t we just build a library?”

And I think that at the end of the day that is the goal of this project team and the community. Everyone wants what is best for the historic OB Library, and there is red tape, there will be some tedious forums and questionnaires, but it is all directed towards building a better library for the Ocean Beach community.

So I implore you — go to the public forums, get your voice heard, share your input, be the change you want to see in your community. The only way this library can be the library this community wants, is if the community’s voice is heard. The best way to do that is to submit your feedback and suggestions here, on the official survey.

Carson Davis is an Ocean Beach filmmaker and journalist, having lived in the community for 20 years. New to journalism, he hopes to make a name for himself covering stories he feels are important to the community and relevant to the times.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page June 5, 2022 at 7:38 pm

Very nice account of the meeting, Carson, good job with including all the facts and getting the message across.

Unfortunately, it sounded a lot like the first meeting. Bruins was out of line. His admonition to the audience full of adults to behave was insulting. I would have said so had I been able to attend.

If you want to know how the first meeting went, read this Rag piece from 2021. https://obrag.org/2021/11/public-input-not-allowed-for-new-ob-library-design-is-ocean-beach-getting-the-shaft-again/

And a tiny bit of friendly advice, I would avoid the descriptive “elders.” It basically has two meanings. One is the old wise ones who are wiser than the rest of us and that wouldn’t apply. Or, it means those older than the rest but I imagine they weren’t the oldest ones in the room.


Frank Gormlie June 6, 2022 at 9:42 am

Editordude: that was an editorial decision to use the term “elders.”


Geoff Page June 6, 2022 at 10:10 am

See, that’s what happens when you listen to an “elder.”


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