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Supervisors approve funding for Fallbrook library


Last updated 4/3/2008 at Noon

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors appropriated the funding believed to be needed to construct the new Fallbrook branch library and also authorized a request for proposals to design and build the new library.

The supervisors’ 4-0 vote March 25, with Supervisor Ron Roberts absent, also adopted an addendum to the environmental Mitigated Negative Declaration and approved an Irrevocable Offer of Dedication of the parcel which had been acquired by Friends of the Fallbrook Library.

“This is a big step for Fallbrook,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “We’ve been trying to build a new library in Fallbrook for years.”

Plans to replace the existing 8,100 square foot library preceded the passage of Proposition 14 by the state’s voters in the March 2000 election.

Proposition 14 provided $350 million in matching funds to build and renovate public libraries throughout California.

In July 2001 the supervisors authorized county staff to develop Proposition 14 applications for replacement libraries in Campo-Morena Village, Fallbrook, and Julian and to work with La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee and Encinitas to develop operating agreements to support those cities’ applications.

The application deadline for the first $150 million of Proposition 14 funds awarded was in June 2002.

The application for the new Fallbrook library was initially submitted for the second cycle in 2003, in which $110 million was awarded, but the submittal was unsuccessful. The county tried again for the final cycle in 2004 but was again turned down.

The county also sought Proposition 14 funding for the new Ramona library in 2003 and 2004 but was also denied in those applications.

The county had hoped that a new bond measure would provide additional funding for local libraries, and the state legislatures approved a bond measure for the June 2006 ballot, but that proposition was rejected by the state’s voters.

Although the county had hoped for state funding to construct the new library, various measures were taken during the Proposition 14 application process.

The county has selected a site for the new Fallbrook library immediately to the north of the existing library building, and in June 2002 the supervisors approved options to purchase the existing home on that site along with two-thirds of the property needed to meet parking requirements.

In July 2002 the supervisors approved the purchase of the remaining one-third of the parking requirement.

In March 2004 Friends of the Fallbrook Library acquired the property adjacent to the library with the intention of deeding the parcel to the county when the new library was ready for construction.

In November 2002 the county’s Department of Environmental Health found that the property was suitable for acquisition by the county. In December 2002 an environmental Mitigated Negative Declaration for the library was filed.

In February 2003 the county’s Planning and Environmental Review Board granted a Major Use Permit for the proposed Fallbrook library and made findings that the project is consistent with the county’s General Plan and with the Fallbrook Community Plan, that the project is consistent with existing zoning which allows library services with the granting of a Major Use Permit, that the project complies with all of the findings of a Major Use Permit, and that the project would not have a significant effect on the environment.

In May 2007 the Board of Supervisors approved the Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program which covered facilities projects slated for capital improvement between 2007 and 2012, although the assessment did not include funding for those projects.

A total of 11 major unfunded and partially funded projects exceeding $9 million apiece were prioritized. The Fallbrook and Ramona libraries tied for eighth among the 11 projects.

“I think the lesson we learned is every time somebody says no to you, you’ve got to get up and do it again,” Horn said.

In September 2007 the supervisors authorized the preparation of design-build documents and the necessary planning activities for the Fallbrook and Ramona libraries.

The county Department of General Services and its technical consultant worked with Purchasing and Contracting, County Library, Department of Planning and Land Use, Department of Public Works, and County Counsel staff as well as Friends of the Fallbrook Library to develop the functional and performance requirements for a design-build request for proposals.

Representatives from the building and financial security industries were also involved in the development of the pre-qualification process developed.

“They take time; they take years to put together,” said Jose Aponte, the county’s Library Director.

Three library issues went to the Board of Supervisors for their March 25 meeting, and all three were approved on 4-0 votes.

The supervisors appropriated $7,040,000 of 2006-07 general fund balance into the capital outlay fund for the Fallbrook branch library in addition to authorizing the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to take action with respect to contracting for the construction of the branch library, accepting the donation of the parcel from the Friends of the Fallbrook Library, and adopting the updated Mitigated Negative Declaration.

The Ramona branch library was also fully funded by appropriating $11,220,000 of 2006-07 general fund balance to the capital outlay fund, and the director of the Department of Purchasing and Contracting was authorized to undertake the bid process.

The supervisors exercised an option to purchase a 0.78-acre site for the new Alpine branch library, although assessment of building specifications and funding the construction are future activities for that branch.

“They are more than just books on the shelf. They are community centers,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said of libraries.

The county also operates the new Encinitas branch library which opened February 25. During Chairman Greg Cox’s State of the County address February 13, he noted that the county would begin or complete work on the Alpine, Encinitas, Fallbrook, and Ramona libraries.

The March 25 actions fulfill that promise. “I think we should all be very proud of that,” Cox said, adding that plans also exist for a new branch library in Lincoln Acres.

“I think it’s a seminal time for our library system,” Aponte said. “It’s a very special opportunity for us.”

The total estimated cost of the Fallbrook library is $10,336,000, not including the cost of furnishing the library which will be covered by the fundraising efforts of Friends of the Fallbrook Library.

The county had previously budgeted $3,280,391 for the Fallbrook library. Supervisor Bill Horn’s discretionary Community Projects budget has been used for some of that funding, and Aponte noted that libraries have the support of all of the county supervisors.

Friends of the Fallbrook Library have already raised more than $2 million for the new building, although they plan to raise an additional $1 million with an upcoming fund campaign called “From Knowledge Comes Wisdom.”

Meetings with potential institutional, corporate, and individual donors will be hosted by community members as part of that campaign.

Because private organizations are not subject to various county policies and regulations, Friends of the Fallbrook Library purchased the adjacent property with the intent of donating it to the county when the library construction was ready to proceed.

The house on the adjacent property was demolished in July 2007.

“I’ve been pushing to build this building,” Horn said. “This is very good progress for us.”

Aponte expects both the Fallbrook and Ramona branches to be open in early 2010.

County staff has proposed a design-build process for the new Fallbrook and Ramona libraries in which proposals will be solicited from teams of architects and contractors based on performance guidelines for each library developed by county staff and community members.

A technical committee will review statements of qualifications before up to four pre-qualified teams will be requested to submit design proposals which will then be ranked in order of best value.

Contract negotiations for each library will then be conducted with the highest-ranked team.

Aponte had been the library director for the West Palm Beach, Colorado Springs, and Oceanside systems before accepting the position as the County of San Diego’s Library Director, and he used the design-build process in Colorado Springs to save a considerable amount of money due to the combination of an architect and building contractor in a single effort.

When the county prepared the Mitigated Negative Declaration in 2002, the design called for the new library to total approximately 17,000 square feet, which was calculated to generate 850 average daily vehicle trips.

The proposed new Fallbrook library has been expanded to approximately 25,000 square feet, which would generate an additional 400 average daily trips.

A traffic analysis determined that the total 1,250 trips would not have significant impacts with the implementation of existing Federal and state highway programs and the county’s Transportation Impact Fee program and thus would not result in new significant environmental impacts.

The increased size of the Fallbrook library is expected to increase annual operating and maintenance costs by $95,869, and that additional expense will be included in the 2009-10 library operating budget.

“I’m very proud to bring this forward today,” said Horn on the Fallbrook branch. “We’re getting a whole lot closer to getting it built.”


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