Save the Old Mission Hills Public Library – City Council Hearing – Tuesday, June 20

by on June 19, 2023 · 3 comments

in History, San Diego

From Mission Hills Heritage

On June 20, 2023, starting at 2:00 P.M., the San Diego City Council will hold a hearing on the appeal of the historical designation of the Old Mission Hills Branch Library, HRB #1384.  We need your voice and action to help defeat this meritless appeal and save the old branch library for adaptive reuse.


Mission Hills Heritage (MHH) applied for historical designation of the old Mission Hills Branch Public Library (the Library).  On September 24, 2020, the Historical Resources Board (HRB) voted 9-1 to designate the library as a historical resource, finding that it embodies the distinctive characteristics of the Contemporary Style with Futurist Modern Influences and Googie characteristics.

However, a member of the public opposed to historical preservation appealed the designation five days later.  While the appeal has been pending, the City has largely ignored proposals to adaptively reuse the Library made by the Mission Hills Community Preschool and the San Diego Senior Centers Foundation.  The City Council will now hold a hearing to consider the appeal on June 20, 2023, starting at 2:00 PM.

We need your voice and action to let the City Council know that the Library is worth saving and should be adaptively reused to benefit our community.  HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Write to the City Council using the City Clerk webform at and indicating the meeting date (6-20-2023) and agenda item number. Comments submitted using this form will be distributed to the City Council and made a part of the record but will not be read into the record.
State your support to maintain the historical designation of the Mission Hills Branch Public Library for adaptive reuse.  You can add any other comment you like and upload up to 5 documents.

Show up via Zoom or in person at 2:00 PM. Use this link to attend by Zoom:
To attend in person, go to: City Administration Building, 12th Floor, 202 C Street, San Diego, CA 92101.  Please note that in person attendance makes a bigger impact!

Here are some points to take into consideration:

  • The Library is an iconic mid-century building that has stood at the western gateway to Mission Hills since 1962. It is the only mid-century modern style building in Mission Hills’ core business district.
  • The Library is an important historical resource that should be historically designated to save the distinctive architectural features that define the modern style, including the upswept roofline with wide overhanging eaves, stucco and stacked brick cladding, and large aluminum framed windows at the east and north elevations.
  • The Library can and should be adaptively reused to benefit the community. The character defining features of the building are all located within the front façade to a depth of one room, leaving the remainder of the building available to redevelop as needed to facilitate alternative uses.
  • We are aware of at least two proposals to reuse the Library, made by the Mission Hills Community Preschool and the San Diego Senior Centers Foundation. The City of San Diego has not acted on either proposal and the building sits vacant and neglected.
  • MHH brought the application for historical designation to preserve the building for adaptive reuse. Contrary to assertions by the individual who filed the appeal, MHH has never opposed development of the site for permanent supportive housing and has encouraged the adaptive re-use of the property, which could very well include housing.
  • The grounds for appeal cited by the appellant, including purported factual errors and procedural errors by the HRB, completely lack merit and the historical designation should be affirmed by the City Council.

With your help, we can maintain the historical designation of the old Mission Hills Branch Public Library and help facilitate its adaptive reuse to benefit our community!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris June 20, 2023 at 4:53 pm

I’m on the fence with this. If this spot was designated to be housing specifically for low income shouldn’t that take precedence base on the situation we are in now? Anyway for bette or worse it got saved:


Frank Gormlie June 21, 2023 at 7:52 am

The San Diego City Council has decided that a 63-year-old library in Mission Hills is, in fact, historic. This will at least hinder if not make it impossible to turn the property into housing.

Tuesday’s hearing was scheduled after Clint Daniels, the chair of nonprofit Circulate San Diego, appealed the historic designation on several factual and procedural grounds. City staff disagreed. But Daniels also asked the Council to reconsider the vacant property’s long-term potential use.

Preservationists have countered that historic designation doesn’t prevent redevelopment — creative engineers and architects could incorporate the library into something new.

The latter of these two arguments won out. Councilman Stephen Whitburn, who represents Mission Hills, said he looks forward to future discussions about the site’s use. He voted, alongside four other Council members, in favor of upholding the library’s historic status. From Voice of San Diego


Chris June 21, 2023 at 11:33 am

OK I guess the more I think about this, the more I actually disagree with this decision. This is just pure insanity. It’s an abandoned building and regardless of how long it’s been there, keeping it as a historical landmark. Much needed low income housing is far more important in this case.


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