Library’s future hinges on preservation decision 

Potential North Beach parkland could instead be occupied by a vacant building under a recommendation anticipated today from The City’s historic-preservation advisers.

The Historic Preservation Commission is expected to recommend protecting the North Beach Branch Library from demolition.

The San Francisco Public Library plans to demolish the building and replace it with a larger structure in the nearby triangular parking lot between Mason and Lombard streets and Columbus Avenue. The current library site, and roadway that separates it from the new one, would become parkland.

Some preservationists argue that the building is historically significant because it was designed by defunct local architecture firm Appleton and Wolford and was among the first libraries to place its books on public display.

The triangle was the Library Commission’s preferred branch site in the 1950s, but that plan was nixed because it would obstruct motorists. The branch was instead built over parkland.

If the Board of Supervisors rules that the building must be protected, it could sit empty after its contents are shifted into the proposed new space, City Librarian Luis Herrera said. The Board of Supervisors could decide against a new building and leave the books in their current location. The triangle could become parkland under that scenario.

A draft environmental impact report outlining the squat 1950s-era building’s historic value could be released for public discussion within weeks, according to city planning official Michael Jacinto.

Herrera urged commissioners to delay their vote until the environmental review is complete.

That plea was ignored three weeks ago, when commissioners voted to protect the building.

The narrow vote violated California’s meeting rules and must be recast because the public wasn’t notified that it would occur.

North Beach Library replacement plans

4,400 square feet Space in existing North Beach Branch Library
8,500 square feet Space in proposed new building
12,100 square feet New parkland planned
24 Parking spaces to be removed
2014 Target project-completion date

Source: Planning Department

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