City of Pacifica

Staff Report

Approve Next Steps Toward Constructing a New Pacifica Library


Department:City Manager's OfficeSponsors:

Meeting History

Nov 23, 2015 7:00 PM  City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft

City Manager Tinfow stated that she will be joined by a number of people, including Dawn Merkes, the architect with Group 4 that has worked with the city on the conceptual design and some of the other steps taken, Eric Ruchames, President of the Pacifica Library Foundation and Julie Finklang, the local Pacifica librarian, who will each be talking about a different aspect of what was going on with the library. She stated that this is the first time they have talked publicly about the library since she has been in Pacifica. She began presenting the staff report with a recap of steps they have gone through already, followed by Dawn Merkes, Julie Finklang and Eric Ruchames.

Councilmember Nihart stated that she had a lengthy discussion on this with the City Attorney that this concept allowed her to take part in the discussion, but as the words are a little different, she wanted to make sure that the architectural part of it doesn’t change that in any way.

Asst. City Attorney Visick stated that it was his understanding that they were talking about a general library discussion, and if he is misunderstanding that, he asked that they correct him. If he is correct, he didn’t see any problems.

City Manager Tinfow stated that the recommended action was to hire an architectural firm to complete the architectural work for the new library, put together a library advisory committee in the future. She stated that they are talking about the site where this was going to go.

Councilmember Nihart asked confirmation that they had determined the site previously.

City Manager Tinfow responded affirmatively, adding that she thought it was determined in 2012 or earlier. Those are the actions being asked by Council.

Asst. City Attorney Visick stated that, based on his understanding of that, he did not see a problem.

Councilmember Nihart stated that she wanted to do it for the public, adding that she had a conversation with Michelle Kenyon before this and now she had a second opinion.

Councilmember Keener stated that they have a $167,000 match to obtain $500,000 in funds from San Mateo County.

City Manager Tinfow asked if he was asking where was the difference.

Councilmember Keener asked if they were requesting $129,000.

City Manager Tinfow stated that it was in the report but not highlighted. She stated that the Library Friends and Foundation have already spent around $38,000 and the city gets credit for that, which was whey it is less then $167,000.

Councilmember Keener asked what the $500,000 can be spent on, suggesting the architecture firm, financial services, etc.

City Manager Tinfow stated that it can be used for all the items before them at this time.

Councilmember Keener asked if she thought it would cover all those items.

City Manager Tinfow stated that it would, adding that there was an estimate in the report. She explained that the schematic design phase was estimated between $300,000 and $400,000 and the poll will be around $30,000 and the financial services will be around $10,000.

Councilmember Keener asked what a financial services firm developing various tax scenarios would do for the city. He understood the general obligation bond needs passage by 2/3 of the voters, and he assumed the voters would be voting to tax themselves.

City Manager Tinfow stated that was how it works.

Councilmember Keener thought it would be a parcel tax, and asked if that was one possibility or are there others.

City Manager Tinfow stated that, regarding the need for financial services, they will be able to tell the city what different combinations of general bond evaluations will produce what amounts to build the library, adding that we don’t have that ability in house. She stated that she forgot the second question.

Councilmember Keener thought she answered it. He asked what sort of revenue streams she envisions for this.

City Manager Tinfow stated that typically, for a public facility, you would use a general obligation bond which will cover the life of the building, typically 30 years. A parcel tax could possibly be used, adding that she normally sees it used for operations of a library and it is done $1/parcel.

Councilmember Keener asked what other taxes she envisioned.

City Manager Tinfow stated that those were the two they might want to consider. She didn’t think certificates of participation would work here because we need a new revenue source to pay for this and the best way for that is a general obligation bond.

Councilmember Keener asked how you pay for that general obligation bond.

City Manager Tinfow explained that, if the voters pass it, a certain amount would be assessed on the property tax bill, such as $25/$100,000 evaluation, which will give you a sense of the cost, such as a $500,000 assessed home would pay $125.

Councilmember Keener assumed that was tied to the assessed valuation.

City Manager Tinfow responded affirmatively.

Councilmember Nihart had questions to elucidate the issue of the bond, and she thought that was explained very well. She stated that, since we haven’t done a general obligation bond previously, the financial firm is essential in looking at what we can cover and what was reasonable. She stated that we would have all that information to consider in terms of a vote for the public.

City Manager Tinfow responded affirmatively.

Mayor pro Tem Digre referred to the summary and recommendations from 2012 and to No. 4, she stated that a study was done and was called a survey. She asked if a poll and survey were interchangeable.

City Manager Tinfow they were pretty much interchangeable.

Mayor pro Tem Digre looked at the results and she thought, as they mentioned, they would do marketing or tell their story to a group down below which is reluctant to vote for this. She wondered if they need to pay money for polling or putting in what was said in the information they had.

City Manager Tinfow thought the Library Foundation might want to respond, but she thought they took that information and as they continued to do education by community outreach from 2012 to now, they have been trying to work on those target audiences. She wasn’t sure they knew what the community support would be at this time for a library. She thought they will need to do another poll in 2016 to measure where they are, as well as other outreach activities before and after that.

Mr. Ruchames referred to a couple of other things the poll would do. The success of community outreach has to be updated because it was several years old. The other key pieces a poll provides was what level of support there was in the community for what dollar of the bond so the polling will give you a range of what the public will accept. He stated that the financial advisers will calculate the answer which will allow them to send the bond measure that will hopefully pass. He explained that the community might say they won’t support $30 million but will support $25 million, they will have to go back to the drawing board for a $25 million rather than the $30 million. He stated that it helps them construct the measure that has the greatest chance to pass.

Mayor pro Tem Digre asked why public engagement would not give them the answers, referring to Measure V when they did a polling and Measure V went down. She thought the public engagement would give them the same information, be less costly and free up more money for marketing.

Mr. Ruchames stated that, if Brian Godbe were present, he would tell her it was an art, not a science as polls get you information based on the questions asked. He thought he has had a good track record of predicting what results are going to be. He stated that any outreach they have done has not been scientific, explaining that at their booth at the Fog Fest they talk to them, but it was self select and not a cross section of the community. With polling, they do a scientific breakdown of the community and who votes and reach out to those people. He stated that they were using phones but now were also using online surveys that were very successful and less costly. He thought, if they were basing it on anecdotal response, he would have said to put the bond on the ballot three years ago. Based on the polling response, the support wasn’t there. He stated that it wasn’t exact, but it was the best information. He stated that the high school and elementary school districts did polling on their parcel tax based on the sports community and the dollar amount which was standard in the industry.

Mayor Ervin stated that one thing that resonates with her which Mr. Ruchames used was paying for two houses on one income. She asked if there were any other cities nearby or in the Bay Area that have two working libraries in their city per Pacifica’s size.

Mr. Ruchames stated that there are many cities that have more than one library but in the JPA to which Pacifica belongs, we were the only city with two libraries and the commitment from the JPA was one.

Mayor Ervin asked if there were plans by the committees to do internal fundraising.

Mr. Ruchames stated that was one thing they didn’t mention. One reason they were excited for them to take action on this was that, by firming up the commitment to move forward, it will allow them to start their capital campaign and reach out and find people who work in big corporations, stating that he has heard Genentech mentioned. He stated that, with the research done on companies that do that kind of work, those corporations want to know they are really serious about doing it, and are not interested in pledging money to a speculative project but to something that will get done. He stated that they were waiting for Council to sign off and they can start the capital campaign. He stated that they didn’t know how much money can be raised to lower the overall cost to the city of the library as it was an unknown and never been tried at this level in this community. They will look at that, as well as the disposal of the two existing library sites, to defray the costs.

Mayor Ervin opened public comments.

Glenn Havlan, Pacifica, stated he moved to Pacifica nine years ago despite the libraries, which he did investigate along with other communities they were considering. He stated that it says a lot about the other virtues of Pacifica that they came here anyway. He suggested that they consider the nearby libraries in Burlingame and Millbrae. He stated that Burlingame’s library is their civic pride, built in 1931 and renovated in the 1990s. They also have the new Millbrae Library mentioned earlier. He brought them up because that was where he goes with his son as they are nicer and have more resources, better collections and better special events and study environments for his son and himself. He referred to Councilmember O’Neill mentioning the Walnut Creek Library which he thought was a fine example of a recent construction that has done a lot to enhance their city. He reiterated that they go to those because they are better libraries. He didn’t care where they are and he didn’t care where they build this library, as he was willing to drive to any location in Pacifica if he was willing to go Millbrae. He stated that he participated in that survey and when it asked which library he went to, he put down the Sanchez Library because it was open on his day off and neither was open on Sundays which he felt was shameful for any free citizen who values education, progressivism and democracy itself. He stated that those other places are all open and he felt there was no better legacy for more people than creating this library. He referred to Burlingame which was built 80 years ago, and those people would be proud. He asked what will be in Pacifica for his grandchildren, adding that they will be proud and will remember their name.

Trish Moran Sholl, Pacifica, stated she has been in Pacifica 12 1/2 years and would be a neighbor of the new Sharp Park library. She thanked staff who got together a week ago and took a group of the board of the Library Foundation and supporters of their effort on a field trip to the Walnut Creek library. She thought it was an eye opening experience. She stated that, with two children, she didn’t get out as much to go to other libraries and she thought it was wonderful to see a modern library. She thanked the City Manager for expanding on information being presented and she encouraged the City Council to vote yes on the recommendations. She suggested that Pacificans visit a modern library, watch this on demand until they can vote on the bond measure, visit the Library Foundation website with all the information, donate to the Foundation, now to build it and then to keep it up, get involved as they get a bond measure for November and email the Library Foundation for any questions. She stated that we are a great community and we deserve a great library.

Sue Beckmeyer, Pacifica, stated she is a former co-president of the Pacifica Library Foundation. She stated that Evelyn Saferi and her husband, Tom, are longtime Pacificans and library users. She is also a wheelchair rider. She asked her permission to share comments and observations she shared with her. She stated that, at the Sharp Park Library, Evelyn was unable to access a side room on the main level where some computers, magazines and newspapers are located because of no access ramp. She noted that the narrowness of the aisles makes it impossible for her to get her wheelchair to the shelves and recognizes that this was an unintentional violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and she said that “someone could really make a fuss about that at some point.” She stated that Evelyn also expressed frustration with the constant noise in the library and the time limits placed on computer usage and can’t always get everything done. She observed that programming decisions were heavily skewed towards children’s programs. Her point was that, even if she still could walk, she would be less inclined to spend time in the library because of these issues. She then stated that she had great news for Evelyn Saferi, explaining that every one of the problems she raised, accessibility, enough computers, noise levels and program offerings will be solved with the new Pacifica library. She urged them to follow the trail blazed by previous Councils and approve the next steps toward constructing a new Pacifica library.

Linda Jonas, Pacifica, read a letter from Ashley Larson who was not able to attend because her child was sick. Her letter thanked the Council for moving forward on plans to build a new public library for Pacifica. She stated that, as a part time children’s librarian at the Sharp Park branch, she sees first hand the vital role of libraries in the community as well as the critical need for a new library building. She stated that the story times and library programs are more popular than ever with 100 people cramming into the Sanchez Library every Friday for toddler musical story time. She stated that the computers are constantly in use, providing vital access and assistance to people who need help finding low income housing, applying for jobs, disability, etc. She mentioned that the digital divide is very real in our community and the library provides an essential bridge. She stated that the needs of the community has changed significantly since the libraries were built and were no longer a place for quiet study and reading and mentioned the various services to parents and their children, and a place for people of all ages to learn new skills, as well as free legal advice through lawyers in the library program and free meeting space for local community groups. She mentioned some of the needs, such as enough space to separate the various programs, upgrading for handicapped people, etc., which a new building will finally provide.

Marie Favorini, Pacifica, stated that, as a teacher and tutor, she has tried taking her students to the library but it is so hot that she has tried taking them to Starbucks, which was not a study environment but was better than the Sharp Park library. She stated that one use for libraries that wasn’t mentioned was tutoring as well as student groups working on homework. She stated that it was hard to study in whispers or whisper when they are really excited. She echoed everything the librarian said in her letter about the problems of competing uses in the libraries.

Mayor Ervin closed public comments.

Mayor pro Tem Digre stated that she was ready to make a motion, adding that she could hardly wait for Sunday library opening.

Asst. City Attorney Visick stated that, if they were asking if they could make all the listed recommended action in one motion, they can.

Mayor pro Tem Digre moved to complete all the recommended actions, 1 through 7; seconded by Councilmember Nihart.

Councilmember Nihart stated that she was thrilled to be able to participate in this. She mentioned that she grew up in rural Iowa. She went to visit her hometown for a class reunion. She stated that it was a town of about 8,000 and the square was evaporating. She stated that they were a creative community and the business association worked on stores, etc., and they took one vacant section and turned it into the most amazing two-story library. She was stunned because it was a very modern library, mentioning some of the amenities . She stated that the first thing you see when you walk in was a wall with stones and on all the stones are names of corporations and people in corporations. She stated that they raised $15 million. She stated that we should not say never as she felt we had the potential to raise the money to make it extraordinary for her citizens.

Councilmember Keener referred to Eric Ruchames’ reference that the polling will suggest the final amount of the bond put on the ballot. He thought, when they have to make the decision on the amount of the bond, he will be relying on the Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library for advice because they have been pushing this idea for at least a decade and have the expertise as to what they want in the building and, together with the architect, what it will cost. He encouraged them to stay involved in the project and be asked to form the library advisory committee referenced in the staff report.

Councilmember O’Neill stated that he has commented previously because he was on the library liaison committee, but he wanted to state that he fully supports the library for everyone in town, mentioning relieving the strain on the Pacifica Resource Center. He mentioned reading articles of what many libraries provide for the community.

Mayor Ervin stated that she was fully supportive of the library and excited about the dream of having a new library. She appreciated the many hours the Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation have put into this dream that many have. She referred to the civic pride and how wonderful it will be for all citizens of Pacifica. She loves to be part of this and will help in any way she can.

MOVER:Sue Digre, Mayor Pro Tem
SECONDER:Mary Ann Nihart, Councilmember
AYES:Karen Ervin, Sue Digre, Mary Ann Nihart, Mike O'Neill, John Keener