New Library Project

Dear Library Supporters,


After a defeat of Measure N at the polls in November 2016, the Library Advisory Committee, the Pacifica Friends of the Library, and the Pacifica Library Foundation  all underwent a period of reflection and study.  A final poll showed that the support remained strong, but failed to make the 67% required. It was a huge effort to run the campaign, not to mention the cost.  The consensus was that it would take a whole new proposal to have any chance of success.  It was felt that the site selected by the city at the corner of Palmetto and Montecito would not gain favor because of the danger of sea level rise, even though this would not become an issue for fifty years.  The other issue that would have to be addressed was keeping the Sanchez Library open.

The Library Advisory Committee met all through the year and worked their way through these two issues.  Led by Dawn Merkes, of Group 4 Architecture, many community outreach opportunities were done to gather community input for an alternate site. The final total was 22 suggestions that had to be winnowed down to four sites using a check list for necessary requirements.  Rough drawings for each of the sites were prepared and after much discussion of pros and cons, the committee decided that the best site was the current Sharp Park Library property.  It is city owned, already is used for a library, and is not in the tsunami zone.  The architects said that another advantage is that the under building parking could be daylighted which would save having to include ventilation in the construction costs.  The new building  would take over most of the current site requiring the removal of several trees,  and would be two stories on top of the parking garage

The issue of one or two libraries was more difficult.  Community feelings were strong in the southern half of the city that Sanchez Library should remain open.  The obstacle is that the Joint Powers Authority for Library Services only provides 60 hours of library services for Pacifica.  Various ideas have been floated to see how this could be accommodated and still keep the new main library open more hours. One suggestion was to share the space with another civic entity like the Parks, Beach, and Recreation.  The county library and the city are in the process of exploring options at this time.

On January 22, 2018 Cindy Abbot, chair of the Library Advisory Committee and Dawn Merkes, of Group 4 Architecture, presented the conclusions of the research and the committee’s recommendations to the City Council. The council voted 4-0 to accept the recommendations of the committee.  This March the Council voted to use part of the remaining money from the county to hire Group 4 to do conceptual drawings for the Sharp Park Library site.

The process towards a new library will have to go through a whole new round of polling, gathering public input, and cost estimates.  The last Needs Assessment is still current, so that will not have to be redone.  Eventually, this will lead to a new campaign, and, hopefully, success at the voting booth.  In order to prevail, we will need the support of every library user to bring this to reality. Our community has the last one of the eleven libraries in the San Mateo County Library (SMCL) system to be rebuilt. This summer we will be able to see what a new library looks and functions like when the Half Moon Bay new library opens.  We hope this will open the public’s eyes to what a new library does for a community.

Stay tuned for new developments, and check the city’s website, click on City Government, select Current Projects then New Library.  We will need the help of all library users to bring this plan to reality, so consider what you can do to help with this effort.

Caroline Barba, Co-president, Pacifica Friends of the Library


Based on the questions raised in March at the City Council, the Library Advisory Committee has been meeting and concentrating on two of the three main issues raised.  The three areas are site selection, public outreach, and dual service model (one library or two).

Dawn Merkes, of Group 4 Architects, has led the public outreach efforts. There has been one community open house and workshop in June and many outreach efforts at public events like the 4th of July picnic, Touch a Truck, Kops n Kids, and Farmers, Market.  The public is invited to record their input at kiosks filled with information and questions.  The next open house and community workshop is going to be September 28 at the Community Center on Crespi Dr.  We want more people to attend as this is an issue that involves the whole community and many people have opinions and ideas.  Whether you use the library or not, you have a stake in our community and your voice is important.  The information gained will be used to help decide the direction the project will take.

As a result of the outreach, the committee heard the results of the outreach in regard to site selection. All suggestions were presented and after discussion, six sites in the Sharp Park area were left to consider.  Stan Zeavin spoke about the danger of sea level rise at the proposed site at Palmetto and Montecito. The committee voted to leave the site on the list of considered sites along with the other sites.  Further winnowing will take place at the August 9th meeting of the Library Advisory Committee.

The question of one library or two is being studied with input from the County Library administration and local library staff and will be the topic of future meetings.

Meanwhile, the city is moving forward on the Palmetto beautification project with bump outs and planting beds.  Progress is slow to occur in this town, but eventually moves along. Many changes in the area are already being seen. The new library will be an important part of the area, and careful planning must be done.  Information on Library Advisory Committee meetings can be found at . Go to the Government tab and click on Commissions and Committees to find the Library Advisory Committee, and click on the Explore tab to find current City Projects for background information.  A great community deserves a great library!

Caroline Barba, Co-president, PFOL


On March 27, 2017 at the City Council meeting, Item #9, New Library Project was discussed. Please click City Council Mtg March 27 2017 New Library Project for a summary of the discussion.


 **OUR LIBRARY, OUR PACIFICA – YES ON ‘N’ website**  Note: Link is no longer active.


 A 21st Century Library Provides Services To Help A Community Thrive
(Click here for a printable PDF. )

A single library welcomes and serves our entire community, from babies to seniors, from business folks to veterans to families. It is a community asset and one of the most important of American institutions.

It is a place for learning − from toddler story times, to Medicare navigation for seniors, to computer classes, to teen poetry slams, to knitting groups.

Librarians are information professionals. They help people navigate the mountains of data that can bury the unwary. They are not trying to sell patrons anything.

Library Project Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Pacifica need a single library?

While the city of Pacifica owns the library buildings, all library services and salaries are funded by the San Mateo County Library System (SMCL). Pacifica is the only city in the SMCL with two libraries and so must split its 60 weekly hours of operation between the two buildings. Each library is open only 4 days a week and because the hours overlap on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Pacificans have access to a library for only 47 hours a week.

Both buildings are small (a total of approximately 11,000 square feet for a population close to 40,000 people) and so do not have enough space for the collections, services and programs that are standard in a modern library.


What are the benefits of a single, modern library?

A single, modern library will

  • be open 7 days a week for longer hours
  • have a dedicated room for children
  • have a separate space for teens
  • provide a homework center to help ensure success in school
  • have quiet, comfortable areas for reading and working
  • offer free WiFi and ample access to computers, printers, laptops and e-readers
  • provide small and large meeting rooms for community use
  • have room for popular programs like Whale Town: Why the Humpbacks Come to Pacifica
  • have space for expanded collections of books, magazines, cds and dvds
  • be an energy efficient, environmentally friendly, fully-accessible building

How will the people who cannot walk to the library get library services?

The SamTrans Redi-Wheels bus is available to pick up people at their homes and take them to the library. The city will work to expand the senior shuttle service to include trips to the new library. In addition, the library will continue to offer mobile outreach services such as pop-up libraries, and to deliver library materials to homebound Pacificans. The bookmobile may also be able to make stops at different places throughout town.

The bottom line is, that due to our geography and the fact that we do not have neighborhood libraries, most people in Pacifica are not within walking distance of the library. Many of the folks that currently use the Sanchez library do not walk there.

Where will the money come from to pay for the library?

Measure N, on the November 2016 ballot, is a bond that will pay for the library.

For a homeowner, the yearly cost of Measure N will be $17.84 per hundred thousand dollars of the assessed value of the property. The assessed value is not the property’s market value.

Some examples of the monthly cost to a Pacifica homeowner are:

  • for a $100,000 assessment, $1.49 a month;
  • for a $400,000 assessment, $5.95 a month (which is the Pacifica average);
  • for a $1,000,000 assessment, $14.87 a month.

Will there be public oversight of how the bond money will be spent?

Measure N requires the city to have a bond oversight committee to review the expenditures of the bond funds. It will be made up of local citizens. Their job will be to make sure that the bond proceeds are used appropriately. This is the same process that was used by the Pacifica School District when they modernized the schools.

Why is Palmetto at Montecito Ave the new location of the library?

The property is centrally located, and so serves the entire community.

It is city-owned and shovel-ready, which reduces the cost of the project.

The site is large enough to accommodate the library and will bring increased foot traffic to Palmetto Avenue as Palmetto grows into its role as Pacifica’s Main Street.

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) has jurisdiction over property west of Highway One. On November 20, 2015, Nancy Cave, a district manager of the CCC, wrote a letter to the city manager that stated, “… I write today to express our support for inclusion of a public library as part of the Beach Boulevard Redevelopment Project.”

Will the library be affected by storm surges or sea level rise?

Two different engineering firms carefully examined the site where the library will be located. Both studies, the 2013 EIR and June 2016 Coastal Hazard Study,    ( concluded that the likelihood of flooding would be very remote.

The sea wall south of the pier provides protection for the library site, as well as for the homes and businesses on Beach Boulevard and Palmetto Avenue.

With the effects of climate change beginning to impact the entire Bay Area, new models are continually emerging that influence building design. The library’s architects and engineers will include these latest techniques to protect this civic asset from the influences of our marine environment.

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