Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a new library?

Our HMB library is one of the most heavily used library facilities in the entire SMCL system. Built in 1971, it cannot meet the needs for daily programs - often needing to use outside facilities in order to not exceed fire code. It cannot house sufficient books, computers, and does not offer suitable reading space. Staff workspace is unsafe because of insufficient space. Restroom facilities are limited to one male and one female stall and the single staff restroom is not ADA compliant. The library shelves are also too close together to meet ADA code. Because there are no separated spaces, noise is a constant issue with children’s programs causing a disturbance for other library patrons. Tutoring and adult literacy programs must be held in the center of the loud library with no privacy or quiet offered for anyone.

Does anyone still use libraries?

While many of us are fortunate enough to have computers and internet access at home, that is not the case for a large population of our community. Many people rely on the library for computer and internet access not to mention the myriad of programs. On any given day at the library, there is story time, homework help, tutoring, adult literacy tutoring, kid and teen programs, special events with magicians, authors, music, computer training for seniors and employment advice. Of course, library use is not limited to the underprivileged, many Coastside families take advantage of summer reading programs and special events, homeschooling families use the library as a place to administer scholastic assessments and many citizens use the library to find books.

Why can’t we just expand and upgrade our current building?

The current library cannot be expanded in a way that would meet the needs of the community. It cannot be expanded to the East far enough to add the needed square footage because of the setback and it is not structurally suited to carry a second floor.

Why is the design so big and expensive?

The size of 25,000 scoped in the conceptual design of 2014 is actually considerably smaller than the conceptual design from 10 years ago, which came in at 33,000 sf. The 25,000 sf size was arrived at after a very thorough needs assessment by the County library staff, taking into consideration the need for more shelf space, more space for tech, more space for adult and child literacy tutoring and general tutoring, and much requested public meeting space options. Additionally, it accounts for a projection for moderate growth of the user base here on the Coastside over the next 40 years. Nonetheless, the drawings currently being circulated are of a conceptual plan but the Project Manager will help County Library staff determine the appropriate size that will still meet the needs of the community.

The projected costs are not solely construction costs but are total project costs and are based on the conceptual plan only. This includes every possible aspect of the project - all fees and permitting, site studies, project and construction management, fitting out and rental of temporary space, architectural fees, all fixtures and furniture, as well as contingencies for escalation of costs for a project starting in 2016. All of these elements will be very closely watched by the Project Manager whose job it is to see things run smoothly and who is not associated with the architect or construction company - and who is contracted on a not to exceed basis. This project is an investment that will give back to the community for the next 50 years and should be done in a way that ensures its longevity and applicability for that period.

Will financing the library take money away from other needed resources in the community?

There really are no other projects in the community that show greater or more immediate need than our local library. Additionally, because more than half of the funding is coming from San Mateo County and the City has already set aside $6 million, the project (at its estimated cost) is already more than 75% funded. Moreover, through the work of many dedicated volunteers the city’s remaining financial responsibility will be further reduced.

Where and when will the new library be built?

The new library will be built in the same space as the current library. During demolition and construction, library services will move to a temporary location to be determined. The cost of that temporary location is included in the budget. It is anticipated that construction will begin in Summer of 2016 with completion in Fall of 2017.

Is the library going to cause an increase in taxes?

There will be ABSOLUTELY NO INCREASE IN TAXES with the current plan. The remaining monies needed for the the library will be paid by the city of Half Moon Bay as well as by donations gathered by the Friends of the Library. With the Friends’ goal of $2Million, the City’s remaining share is approximately $2Million. In February of 2015, the City Council voted 4-1 to pursue Lease Revenue Bonds (LRB) as a means to finance the remaining balance. This amount will be easily paid back by the City within 8-10 years. A LRB is basically a loan with a very good interest rate. They city would pay back that loan with monies already collected through taxes that go into the general fund

What is the status of the library?

Updated conceptual plans were created last year after an immense outreach effort. The conceptual plans brought together the many ideas and desires that were voted on by the 2000 + participants. A conceptual plan is, however, a concept and it is now ready to be fine tuned. At the beginning of May, the City Council voted to hire a Project Manager, Griffin Management, who brings an incredible amount of experience and expertise managing library construction projects. This Project Management firm will coordinate another full round of community outreach events (stay tuned for details on those outreach events!) while studying the site and any constraints in order to direct an architectural firm in the design. A Request for Proposals (RFP) has already gone out and the vetting process will begin in the coming months. An architect is expected to be chosen in late Summer.

Was the Measure O initiative a vote about the library - and if so, didn’t it fail?

Measure O was not solely for library funding and, in fact, opponents of Measure O repeatedly claimed that their opposition was due to the designation of Measure O monies being too vague. Many said that if the money were only for the library, they would support it. Ultimately, Measure O was defeated by a margin of only 22 votes out of 4000 cast.

What will it cost to operate the new library on an annual basis?

The operating costs of the current library are approximately $70-80K a year. Because of its age, our current building is not a particularly efficient and requires a great deal of maintenance. The new library will be Silver LEED certified at a minimum and though it will be larger, it will be much more energy efficient. Until the Project Manager and architects are able to determine the size and composition of the new building, we can only estimate based on a range of other similarly sized buildings. Considering those parameters, our new building is expected to cost approximately $140-150K per year.

Why does the new conceptual plan include so much meeting space - don’t we already have enough meeting space in town?

The conceptual plan includes one large community room that can be divided into smaller spaces as well as three small meeting rooms. Other rooms and areas include, but are not limited service/class rooms for homework, literacy, tech and computers, teens and children. Currently, library staff must go off site for many of the programs they offer because numbers exceed library capacity and cause too great a disruption to the rest of the library patrons. Half Moon Bay is actually very limited in available meeting space with most suitable spaces being booked and unavailable to groups needing it.

How will the increased size of the library affect parking?

This is another aspect that the Project Manager will be able to analyze and address as they continue their site study. Until the size of the library is determined, the calculation of required parking cannot be formulated.

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