An artist’s rough sketch of the proposed library in downtown Half Moon Bay, the cost of which is shared by the county.
The details of the coastside’s new library are taking shape after the Half Moon Bay City Council voted on a slightly smaller building to keep costs within the budget it’s jointly funding with the county.
The council voted Tuesday to replace the current less than 8,000-square-foot facility near downtown with a 22,000-square-foot building, a slightly scaled-down version from the 25,000-square-foot structure previously discussed.
With a nearly $23 million budget for the project that will serve Half Moon Bay and 10 unincorporated communities along the coast, the council is working collaboratively with the county Board of Supervisors as well as the San Mateo County Library JPA.
In addition to unanimously approving the smaller size, the city also approved a design that was heavily favored by the public during recent outreach efforts, according to city officials. The library became a somewhat controversial topic amongst residents who raised concern by the size and cost of the new facility. While the scaled-down version was in part a response to budgetary restrictions, it also offered a compromise for those who sought a smaller project.
“I’m very excited to be moving forward with a new library! The 22,000-square-foot library may not please everyone. But I’m confident it will serve us well and far into the future as long as we build it with flexibility and sustainability in mind,” Vice Mayor Debbie Ruddock wrote in an email. “I’m confident that the passion and commitment of so many library supporters and volunteers will make it a warm, inviting and happening place to be.”
The council was presented with the projected costs, which included an average of more than $6 million in soft expenses for things like preparing an environmental review of the facility. A 25,000-square-foot library would have gone over budget at $25.5 million and a 19,500-square-foot building would have been under budget at $21.3 million. The 22,000-square-foot design fits neatly into its agreement with the county by costing an estimated $23.2 million, according to a staff report.
Despite the scaled-down size, the library will still be able to maintain many of the services the community identified as a priority, said Councilwoman Marina Fraser and Deputy City Manager Alex Khojikian.
“Adjusting the size to 22,000 square feet will help us stay within the budget and we’re confident that the collection of programs the community has requested through a large amount of input and outreach we’ve done, will be accommodated within this building size,” Khojikian said. The council barely discussed the three design alternatives and made a simple choice to heed the community’s preference, Fraser said.
“That’s important, because we’ve done so many surveys, spent so much time going into the community and getting feedback,” Fraser said. “It gives the architects a framework to start and to refine the design. It just makes the whole project much more concrete.”
The council chose a more simple contemporary design — a smaller single-story building will connect through a glass lobby to a second-story building, which will house the majority of the facility, according to the report.
The building is designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver certification through solar panels, making use of daylight, incorporating a high efficiency building design, having low-flow water fixtures as well as drought-tolerant landscaping and other sustainability features, according to the report.
While some raised concerns about the large project requiring more parking than the lot currently has room for, the city has been working with the Cabrillo Unified School District to share the ample parking at the middle school located directly adjacent to the library, Fraser said.
With the smaller design, instead of 80 parking spaces, only 71 will be needed, according to the report.
Further public outreach as well as hearings will be held as the hired architects narrow down the design specifics of the new library in the coming months.
Although many on the council had hoped for a slightly larger facility, Fraser said she’s pleased they came to a unanimous decision to move forward and replace the more than 40-year-old asset for the community.
“It’s just another milestone in this long journey of building a new library,” Fraser said. “We just need to be mindful of the budget, so I’m glad that 22,000 square feet received a full agreement of the council.”
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106