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The Last Word

Why do we need new Library facilities?

February 8, 2019 

If you have visited newer libraries recently, you know that Pacifica’s libraries do not provide up-to-date facilities and the small buildings limit programs and services. The average library size for cities with similar populations in San Mateo County range from .7 - .9 square feet (s.f.) per person (population). Pacifica has approximately 38,551 residents and would therefore need library facilities sized between 28,900 s.f. – 37,190 s.f. Currently, our libraries total 10,524 s.f. – that’s only .3 s.f. per person.

The Sharp Park Library was built in 1964 and, although compliant at the time the building was constructed, does not meet current code requirements related to sustainability, fire, and seismic safety. Current accessibility standards are also not met. It is important that our community library is safe and able to be used by individuals of all abilities including seniors.

The Sanchez Library was built in 1981 and is structurally safe but needs accessibility and systems upgrades.

See all Library FAQ's here.

Why can’t we refurbish Pacifica's existing library buildings?

February 8, 2019 

The extent of the Sharp Park Library building issues described above means that retrofitting or renovation would actually be similar to the cost of creating a new, larger and more efficient building with adequate space and programs to serve the community. All of the facility’s existing building systems (architectural envelope, structure, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and low voltage, etc.) would need to be replaced. The existing building has served the community for more than half a century and shows signs of significant wear and tear, with all building systems nearing or beyond their anticipated lifespans.

Under the current proposal, the Sanchez library would be remodeled to include shared community space with Parks, Beaches, and Recreation programming to provide more access and use of this valuable facility.

See the project website (www.cityofpacifica.org/library-project) for more information.

See all Library FAQ's here.

Will the Sharp Park Library move? Will the Sanchez Library close?

February 8, 2019 

In Pacifica's planning for the New Library Project:

The Sharp Park and Sanchez Library locations will remain the same. Sharp Park will be reconstructed with a new, full-service Library with significant expansion of library services. The Sharp Park Library would also be large enough to accommodate community meeting spaces that the current library does not have room for.

The Sanchez Library will remain open and an innovative operations model is being proposed. In order to maximizing the availability of library services, Sanchez Library would utilize an Open Access operations model which provides self-service library amenities. When staff is not present, citizens can scan their library card and/or use a PIN to enter the library to use computers, browse popular collections, collect/reserve books, print and photocopy, etc. As a flexible facility, the library would potentially be available for more hours and meet more of the community’s needs. Security concerns have been considered and the City will be working closely with the Pacifica Police Department throughout the process.

As mentioned above, the Sanchez library would be remodeled to include shared community space with Parks, Beaches, and Recreation programming to provide more access and use of this valuable facility.

See the project website (www.cityofpacifica.org/library-project) for more information.

See all Library FAQ's here.

How is the community being included in planning for a new Library?

February 8, 2019 

The City Council has created and directed a Library Advisory Committee (LAC) to conduct community outreach and make recommendations regarding the Library Project. The LAC includes representatives of a broad range of interests in the community including families with children, seniors, and school district representatives just to name a few.

The Library Advisory Committee holds public meetings on the second Wednesday of each month and encourages public participation. The City also hosts community meetings and is participating in several community events. Please see our website to find where we will be next or follow the City of Pacifica on Facebook. www.cityofpacifica.org/library-project

Over the past several months, the LAC, City staff, and consultant team have engaged the community by staffing an informational kiosk on the library project at several community events including the farmers market, Rockaway Christmas Tree Lighting, and a Senior Center pop-up just to name a few. Outreach also included an on-line survey and members of the LAC will make presentations to community groups to share information about this important project.

The City Council will receive a report on community feedback and a preliminary conceptual design at the February 25, 2019 City Council meeting. Community education efforts regarding this project are expected to continue until the new libraries open.

See all Library FAQ's here.

What about the cost of a New Pacifica Library? Pacifica has so many high priority needs.

February 8, 2019 

Yes, it is true that Pacifica has many needs. Funding for construction of a new Sharp Park Library and renovated Sanchez Library would likely be provided by Pacifica tax payers in the form of a General Obligation Bond. If Pacifica voters approve a library bond measure, this would mean that the money raised by the bond could only be used to pay for the libraries. It also means that money for the libraries would not come from other general fund sources that are used to provide other City services and improvements to the community.

The cost of the libraries project is still being determined as the building designs are being finalized with efficiencies and cost savings in mind. The City is also hopeful that grants and/or no or low interest loan opportunities become available.

Library staffing and collections is provided by San Mateo County Libraries.

See the project website (www.cityofpacifica.org/library-project) for more information.


See all Library FAQ's here.

What is the project timeline for Pacifica's New Library Project?

February 8, 2019 

At this time, the City has not yet selected an election date to present the new library project to the voters for funding.

See the project website (www.cityofpacifica.org/library-project) for more information and updates on Pacifica's New Library Project.

See all Library FAQ's here.


On July 11, 2016, Council voted to approve $400,000 for drawings of a proposed central library. What is the status of that appropriation?

December 2, 2016 

The funding remains available to cover the costs of developing the schematic design for the new library.

As additional information, the majority of the funding available for library planning is coming from San Mateo County. The County offered a matching grant to cities that are working to build new libraries. In November 2015, the City Council appropriated $129,000 as our match for $500,000 that came from the County. Here’s a link to the City Council report that provides more information: Staff Report (the report is referred to as “Printout” on the page).

The $400,000 that you are asking about is just the portion allocated for the schematic design phase of architectural work.


Has the $400,000 for drawings of a proposed central library been transmitted to the architectural firm? If not, can we get our $400,000 back?

December 2, 2016 

No, funding is held by the City and has been budgeted to cover the costs of developing the schematic design. The architecture firm bills us as the work goes along.


Have the drawings for the proposed new library been produced? May we see them?

December 2, 2016 

No, the plans are not completed; the schematic design work is still underway. If you are interested in the process, the City’s Library Advisory Committee (LAC) holds monthly public meetings on the 1st Wednesday of the month at 6:30PM.

Check the meeting agendas for location information.

Here is a link to the LAC’s webpage for more information: http://www.cityofpacifica.org/government/committees/lac/default.asp


Why was competitive bidding for the architect for the proposed library not allowed?

December 2, 2016 

The selection process we used was competitive.

Several years ago, the City Council established a library subcommittee comprised of two Council members—Mike O’Neill and Karen Ervin. They worked with staff and representatives of the Pacifica Library Foundation, the Friends of the Pacifica Libraries, San Mateo County, and San Mateo County Library on planning activities related to a new library. This group was involved in the architect selection process.

Last spring, the City issued a request for proposals (RFP) and we received 10 proposals from qualified architecture firms. The top four firms were invited to interview with the library group described above and out of that process the top three continued to be considered. We made site visits to libraries designed by these top three, checked references and discussed other elements of the proposals. Out of this process, the library group (and staff) recommended that the City Council enter into a contract for library design services with Group 4.


How much interest do we pay a year on our Pension Obligation?

June 9, 2016 

We have received inquiries regarding interest paid on the City’s pension obligations. I would first like to provide a brief overview of the nature and structure of a pension plan.

  • A pension plan is an agreement in which the employer provides employees with a defined or estimated retirement benefit in exchange for current or past services. Pension benefits are paid from a pension plan to retired employees on a periodic basis. The pension plan is essentially an investment portfolio structured to provide enough funds to provide retiree benefits.
  • CalPERS offers a defined benefit plan where retirement benefits are based on a formula, rather than contributions and interest earnings to a savings plan. Retirement benefits are calculated based on a member's years of service credit, age at retirement, and final compensation (average salary for a defined period of employment).
  • A citizen has asked how much interest does the City pay on our pension obligation. The amount of annual interest accrual is typically not called out in any of our pension reports that we receive from CalPERS. However, the typical practice is to equate the interest expense rate at the same rates as the expected rate of return on the investment. The rate of return in effect at the release of our 2015 financial statements is 7.50%. So, while the Pension Plan may incur interest expense at that rate it also invests to make income at or above that rate. As long as the plan is functioning properly, theoretically future pension interest expense will always be offset by investment income.
  • Additionally, in 2010 the City essentially refinanced the pension obligations that had accrued to that point in time. The interest paid on these bonds will total $893,000 during fiscal year 2015-2016.

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