The South Bay Community Center in Los Osos was packed with 200 people on Sept. 6 to discuss preliminary plans for an expanded local library to serve the growing community.
San Luis Obispo County Director of Libraries Christopher Barnickel said that at the meeting, the community made it clear that its desire was for the library to stay in its current location on Palisades Avenue.
"The feedback we heard is that time and money were less important than having a library that provides a service to the whole community," Barnickel said.
Options for a larger library include a retrofit and expansion of the existing facility, a new facility on a vacant portion of the developed parcel, an improvement/remodel on an existing building on Los Osos Valley Road, or a new facility on a vacant parcel on 2nd or 3rd streets. The project would ultimately expand the current space from 4,799 square feet to 8,000.
This isn't the first time that San Luis Obispo County has begun efforts to expand or relocate the library in Los Osos.
Buff Lawson, president of the Friends of the Los Osos Library, said the library started in 1940 as a room in a home in Baywood Park. The current facility was built in 1981 and was designed to serve a population of 10,000. She said that in 1989, the county approved an expansion plan for the current building and estimated it would cost $700,000.
The SLO County Board of Supervisors has a policy to only consider funding library capital projects—for new library buildings or major improvements to existing libraries—if at least 50 percent of the project cost is provided by the community where the library is located.
Buff said the Friends came up with its end of the bill, $350,000, through fundraising, and then raised an additional $50,000 after the project's estimated cost increased.
Construction documents were drawn up, but the project was halted by a habitat conservation plan. According to the alternative analysis and feasibility study, changes that had been made to the current facility prevented its expansion. Those included a storm water retention basin, a well, and an emergency lift station. Once the project was halted, the money was given to the Friends of the Library to manage.
"Our money is under our control and it is earmarked for this purpose, but it's not given to the county without contractual agreements," Lawson said.
The feasibility study recommends that sites other than where the current library is located be considered, but the Friends of the Los Osos Library would rather the building be expanded at its current location.
"We're one stakeholder, but we really don't have the power to determine where it's going to be," Lawson said.
Barnickel said another public forum will be slated for the beginning of next year. Δ