Library Renovation

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The Santa Cruz Downtown Public Library is a cherished institution of our community, but it is time for an overhaul.  In 2016 voters resoundingly passed Measure S, approving a bond funding program that would improve or renovate our public libraries.  

For the Downtown Library, the question is whether it will be kept at it current historic location at the Civic Center or a new structure be built as part of a massive 80 foot+ tall complex on Cedar Street's Parking Lot 4. 

Healthy communities incorporate what is called "sense of place" in the decision-making around city planning.  That means the valuing and preservation of public places that have meaning to a community.

The City's proposal to build a library from scratch and in a completely different location was not brought forward until after Measure S approval. During the 2016 campaign, news stories, a Library director interview and an editorial in the Santa Cruz Sentinel all emphasized renovation of the existing structure. They did not propose building a new Downtown Library.  

We believe the Santa Cruz community has a strong preference for renovating our Downtown Library where it is.  The renovation plan is beautiful, comprehensive, and includes all the bells and whistles a modern library should have.
Our Downtown, Our Future's ballot initiative gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that preference with a simple vote, giving us a direct democratic voice in where we want our library to be. 
Check out our Fact Checking on the Library
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions on the Library

A Visual Exploration Of Our Public Library's History at the Civic Center

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Carnegie Library, completed 1907

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City Hall, 1938

Courtesy Santa Cruz Public Libraries

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Civic Auditorium opening, 1940

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Downtown Public Library, completed 1968

A Need For Renovation

After 50 years, our current Downtown Library needs renovation, but the basic structure of the building is sound. Jayson Architecture’s preliminary plans for the existing Downtown Library provide for a complete  reconstruction, to create a state-of-the-art 21st-century facility. These plans are now ready for community input, construction drawings, and construction.
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Jayson Architecture's proposal the existing Downtown Library includes new plumbing, electrical, HVAC, shelving, carpeting, lighting, and elevators.

The design shifts the main entrance to face the courtyard of City Hall.

It includes study rooms, a teen space, a greatly increased children’s area with its own outdoor patio and a large community room available for meetings after hours, also with an outdoor patio.

Jayson Architecture preliminary renderings of renovated Downtown Library

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Handicapped and other parking would increase, and parking would be directly accessible adjacent to the Library.

The Library renovation in its historic location would have expansive grounds for ground-level landscaping, in sharp contrast to a library in the Lot 4 mixed-use project.
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Concept by Natalie Dean

For renovation layout diagrams and direct comparisons between it and the mixed-use project Library details, visit our Library Fact Checking page.
Construction on three other libraries using Measure S bond funds is completed and construction has started on six.  Meanwhile, plans for the Downtown Library have not moved forward, and the delay lessens the buying power of our bond funds.

If the existing library were to be replaced by one in the Lot 4 project, construction, according to, Bonnie Lipscomb, the head of the Santa Cruz Economic Development Department, construction might not begin until early 2024. Because work on the existing Downtown Library does not require coordination with parking garage and affordable housing funding for the Lot 4 project, construction very likely could be started sooner. 

Our Downtown, Our Future's ballot initiative gives our community the opportunity to vote directly on where the Measure S funding will be spent.  Will it be for renovation of our library in its historic location, retaining a sense of place, more open space, and landscaped areas for visiting readers of all ages?  We want voters to have the chance to decide.
Have questions about the library renovation component of this initiative?  
Jump to Library Renovation FAQ