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Library Fact Check

Official City Proposals by Jayson Architecture

Library Mixed-Use

The Library would be part of a mixed-use 8 story development project, including:

  • A large commercial space

  • A 243 space parking garage

  • 123 units of affordable housing (+ a manager's unit)

Renovated Library

The Library Renovation would strip, then modernize and enhance our historic library.  

  • Large walls of windows along the first floor

  • Complete new layout

  • Replaces all dated and problematic materials


Interior Public Space - Square Footage

Library Mixed-Use

28,643 square feet
Renovated Library

26,181 square feet
The interior "public space" (not counting staff space) is only a little over 2,000 square feet in difference.  The 3rd story mezzanine accounts for this extra space.  It includes a lounge, with grand piano and art gallery (not important library programs or space for book inventory).

The staff space in the mixed-use option is long and narrow.  It is not an efficient use of space, but adds up to much more overall square footage than the more efficient square shaped staff space in the renovation plans.

Outdoor Space - Square Footage

Library Mixed-Use

3,240 square feet

This includes outdoor spaces:

  • Roof Deck

* Square footage does not include sidewalks, or the "residential roof deck" that is open space allocated as part of the housing regulations for that part of the mixed-use project.

Renovated Library

5,750 square feet

This includes outdoor spaces:

  • Dedicated Children's Garden/Patio

  • Community Patio

  • Staff Patio

  • Entry Plazas 


* Square footage does not include sidewalks

Outdoor Space Details

The Mixed-Use Library
Only one outdoor space, which is a roof deck on the 3rd floor. 
  • It is 3 levels up and on the opposite side of a long, narrow design from where the children's area is located on the ground floor.
  • It is also 3 levels up from the community room - not optimal for after-hours programming. 
Renovation's Outdoor Community Patio
Next To Community Room
Community Room & After Hours Renovation_edited.png

The Community Patio opens up into the Community Room, with:


  • Community Room Kitchen (3)

  • Public Restrooms (4)

  • Second lobby/entry (1)


This is a much more usable space for after hours programming.  


These elements are grouped together in the renovation, instead of being spread out on levels 1 & 3 in the mixed-use option.

Renovation's Outdoor Children's Patio & Garden
Next To Children's Area

Children have their own patio and garden in the renovation design.  It is directly adjacent to the Children's Area.  

This provides an excellent child and family oriented design that facilitates ease of use between the indoor and outdoor library areas. 

Views & Gardens Renovation.png

Environmental/Green Comparison

Library Mixed-Use

The Library would include the following environmental components and advantages:

  • An array of solar panels along the green roof

  • A green roof

  • All electric, LEED certified (learn more about LEED versus renovation and environmentally responsible building on our Environment Fact Check page.)











The Library would have the following disadvantages: 

Renovated Library

The Library would have the following environmental components and advantages: 

  • Far less "embodied carbon

  • Foundation and framing/basic structure maintained, following the environmental principal of repurpose, and renovate, instead of demolish.

  • A new reinforced roof, designed to support photovoltaics (solar panels) (pg. 53)

  • New electrical to support photovoltaics (solar panels) (pg. 43)

    • Current renovation proposal includes electrical upgrades to support solar panel load for up to 20% of library's expected energy use.  

      • For the City to achieve a more full solar panel capacity for this project, 2 options are discussed:

        • A Line Side Tap (PG&E Transformer)​

        • New electrical service w/ switchboard

  • Larger landscaped area

  • Heritage trees at historic library location maintained

The Library would have the following disadvantages:

  • Existing proposal does not "yet" include asking PG&E to upgrade the transformer to support full array of solar.

  • Existing proposal does not "yet" include purchase or installation of the photovoltaics (solar panels).

    • However, with the new State Library Grant, the possibility should be explored.​​

  • Existing proposal does not include converting the gas heating to electric (but there is no reason an updated plan couldn't be developed).​

City's Estimated Costs

Library Mixed-Use

Estimate for Library in Mixed-Use

With all alternates including planting and solar power.

  • "Current estimation": $42,573,876

  • Cost rises with each estimation presented to Council

  • Does not include all associated costs, see below

Renovated Library

Estimate for Renovation 

With ALL of the "alternates" (add-ons, including planting, fenced patios, 2 elevators, extra restrooms, etc...)

  • in 2019: $34,295,260

  • with "estimated" escalation: $40,304,883

Important Cost Details, NOT Included in City's Estimates:
  • Staff applied a steep "cost escalation" to the renovation estimate without current study.​
  • Renovation cost estimate includes moving books and library operations to temporary rented commercial space for period the library is under renovation.

    • Staff also applied a "cost escalation" (adding $1.25 million) to the cost of renting commercial space (for a temporary library facility during renovation) even though commercial space has dramatically decreased in cost since the 2019 study, due to the pandemic and many available empty spaces.​

  • Both options require degrees of demolition and removal of the unusable and hazardous infrastructure/material of the current library, including asbestos.

    • Only the Renovation Cost Estimate includes this expenditure in the calculations.
    • For a truly fair cost comparison, demolition and disposal of the current library (or all the hazardous infrastructure/material thats removal has been deemed necessary) - should also be added to the cost model for the Library Mixed-Use Project.

  • The City was denied the State Library Grant for $10,000,000 in 2022.  Check granted projects here.
    • Quote from the City of Santa Cruz's application, obtained from the state department: "If this grant funding opportunity is not approved it could delay the development/construction of the Library and will increase the funding gap of $3.2M to $13.2M."​
    • Check the state grant guidelines; it is clear that the renovation plans would be better suited for attaining the grant.  It lists prioritizing applications based on critical infrastructure and safety, listing many things that the renovation specifically needs, like:
    • Asbestos abatement​
    • Roof replacement
    • HVAC


Library Mixed-Use
  • The library would be up against a multi-level parking garage, with housing on top.

  • Centrally located in downtown.

  • Surrounded by commercial use and new high density housing in the pipeline.

  • No heritage trees would remain on the parcel.

Jayson Renovation
  • The library would remain at the Civic Center, where education, culture and governance are paired.

  • New orientation would give direct views of the beautiful City Hall courtyard.

  • Surrounded by heritage trees.

  • Historic location with sense of place maintained.

  • More usable outdoor space.


Library Mixed-Use
  • The library would be part of a complex project including 4 different elements:

    • Library​

    • Parking Garage

    • Commercial Space

    • Housing

  • All elements would need to be both funded and built before total project completion and move-in ready.

  • The City has optimistic goals for starting construction.   Their timeline shifts every couple of months.

Jayson Renovation
  • The library renovation is ready for next community meeting and finalized designs.

  • Jayson's renovation proposal is a complete proposal with detailed schematics, timeline and cost assessment.

  • Does not depend on funding and construction of other elements.

  • Start time would require moving current stock of books to an alternate space for duration of renovation.

  • Estimated 2 year renovation construction

Public Outreach/Input

The City has held many Council meetings, Library Subcommittee meetings, and community meetings on the subject of the library renovation/rebuild.  We will include more data, with links to resources on the specifics and timeline in the near future.
  • 2016:  57,788 people voted YES on Measure S - "To modernize, upgrade and repair local libraries in Santa Cruz, Aptos, Live Oaks, Scotts Valley, Boulder Creek, Capitola, Felton and La Selva Beach..."
  • The Measure S Campaign and reporting clearly led the community to believe we were voting on a parcel tax for upgrading and repairing existing libraries, not proposing to demolish our historic central library in the branch, to build a new one in a different location.
  • 5/14/2019 - 75% of Public Comment during the City Council Meeting was against the library being moved and built as part of a mixed-use project.
  • 6/23/2020 - 80% of Public Comment during the City Council Meeting was against the library being moved and built as part of a mixed-use project.
  • 10/27/2020 - 76% of Public Comment during the City Council Meeting was against the library being moved and built as part of a mixed-use project.
  • 2021 Our Downtown, Our Future formed and have since directly talked to over 4,000 community members, gathering signatures and handing out thousands of informational brochures and materials.

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