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New Ocean View Branch Library Building Stalled By 2 Studies
Community members expressed displeasure over the prolonged wait for a new library.
The wait for a bigger and better Ocean View Branch Library continues.
The San Francisco Public Library Commission late last month was given an update on the Branch Capital Library Improvements for Tomorrow projects, a program to modernize the library system’s far-flung branch libraries. Of the three branch library projects underway, Ocean View Branch Library is still at the earliest stages despite renderings for a three-story building being put forth last year.
Last June, the commission unveiled plans to relocate the library from its current location along the 300 block of Randolph Street to the 100 block of Orizaba Avenue at the corner of the Brotherhood Way on city-owned open space. Now, this location is being reconsidered over safety concerns.
The proposal for the site included building a three-story, 31,700-square-foot library with facilities dedicated for reading rooms, a community meeting area, an administrative space and more.
District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who is running for mayor against his longtime ally Mayor London Breed, has been a staunch proponent for putting the library at the site.
Other site options will be considered and evaluated, officials said, with the Real Estate Division. It was not discussed whether this routine evaluation had been performed at the outset to inform the decision to plan to build on the city’s limited open space.
“While there is widespread community support for building the new library, there has also been consistent community feedback questioning pedestrian safety and accessibility for that site,” said Andrew Sohn, an architect for the Department Public Works Bureau of Architecture.
The hold-up is partially due to the two independent studies currently underway. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority are conducting surveys of safety and traffic in the area. The transportation authority’s study will take two years to complete. One outcome from these studies might include the installation of signalized crossing markers on Alemany Boulevard and Brotherhood Way and potentially along Sagamore and Orizaba avenues sometime between 2026 and 2028.
The project, which was first pitched in 2019, has an estimated budget of $47 million. Some of the funds have already been appropriated by the library. However, the cost will have to be reevaluated.
The library also intends to study locating other city department facilities in the building.
Some members of the community who spoke at the meeting were less than pleased about the prolonged wait for a new library.
“It should be a lot further and we should already have our plans in order to make this right,” said Delia Fitzpatrick, chair of the Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside Community Collaborative.
EJ Jones, who’s running for District 11 Supervisor, shared similar sentiments.
“We as a community and as a city have the ability to solve for two things at once and we should not allow this to be a reason that we don’t provide our neighbors with the library they deserve and in a timely manner,” Jones said. “We understand that the costs increase each day that we wait, which is why we ask that you move swiftly on this project.”
The commission and library are waiting on the study results to better understand what commitments and mitigation can be made to ensure the site is safe and responsive to the cumulative community feedback they received to date, City Librarian Michael Lambert said.
There are also plans to host community meetings and design charrettes in late summer or fall.
“We get the urgency,” Commissioner Pete Huang said. “We talk about this all the time and it is frustrating to see the timelines extend and extend and extend but it's all in the spirit of getting to the most correct decision that we can and so I'm just looking forward to what that ends up being for us.”