Book-drop crusade gathers steam again 

A local man’s crusade to bring a drive-up book drop to the library — which nearly led city officials to sue him two years ago — is back.

Resident and former City Councilman John Hoffmann has never given up onthe idea of adding the convenience, despite a deadlocked council vote on it in 2005 and the threat of a lawsuit against him. He is reviving the issue tonight with a plea to the council to perform a survey to determine whether the amenity is something residents would want.

Hoffmann polled library patrons in 2005, and found that a majority liked the idea of a drive-up book drop. However, the San Mateo County Library Board, which operates the San Carlos Library, said the estimated price tag of $30,000 would require it to take funding away from other programs. "I’m asking that [the council] check with libraries that already have them and determine whether this is an insurmountable obstacle," Hoffmann said. "Rather than take my word or the library board’s word for it, look at it and really find out."

The two council members who vetoed the study last time — Tom Davids and Inge Tiegel Doherty —remain on the board. But the council has two new members, Bob Grassilli and Brad Lewis, who might vote differently this time around, according to Davids.

"I thought this had been pretty well put to bed … but we have two new members who might want to take a look at it," Davids said.

Both he and Tiegel Doherty were willing to give the idea another look, although last time the issue came up the council threatened to seek an injunction to block Hoffman from pursuing a ballot initiative.

"It doesn’t seem like a responsible use of funds, but perhaps he’s got some additional information that would change my mind," Tiegel Doherty said.

The move also raises questions about the fall City Council election. Both Davids and Tiegel Doherty are up for re-election, and Hoffmann was narrowly beaten by Grassilli and Lewis in the November 2005 city council race.

While Tiegel Doherty said she intends to seek another term this fall, both Davids and Hoffmann said it’s too soon to make up their minds.

"I can’t answer that question until [the book drop] comes out," Hoffmann said. "This isn’t something that’s going to make me run, but I am trying to gauge what the attitude and perspective of the council is."

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Beth Winegarner

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