Palo Alto prepares for $60M library-bond sale

Bond proceeds to pay for construction of Downtown, Mitchell Park libraries

Palo Alto is preparing to sell $60 million in library bonds later this month to fund voter-approved renovations of three city libraries.

The City Council is scheduled to consider tonight (Monday) a staff proposal to sell bonds for the renovation of the Downtown Library, the Main Library and the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center -- a project city voters approved in November 2008.

If the council approves the bond sale, the money would be used to pay for the required permits and construction costs for the Downtown Library and the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, as well as the cost of setting up a temporary library at Cubberley Community Center while the Mitchell Park facility is closed.

Bond proceeds would also pay for design and construction-administration fees for the Main Library project, according to a report from Joe Saccio, deputy director of the Administrative Services Department.

The bond series would be the first of two the city would sell to fund the $76 million library project, Saccio wrote. The second series would be used for construction of Main Library, which is scheduled to be completed in 2013. The renovation of the Downtown Library is slated to be completed in the spring of 2011, while the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2012.

The council will also consider approving a $728,000 "premium" payment to cover the underwriter's fee and other issuance costs, according to the report.

If the council approves the staff proposal, notices of bond sale would be published and sent to potential purchases on May 26, according to the report.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Council Chambers at City Hall (250 Hamilton Ave.).


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Posted by Democracy Doesn't Always Work
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 10, 2010 at 10:56 am

This is incredibly stupid use of the public's money.

These facilities will be empty in less than a decade--as e-books, and internet technology replaces paper around the world.

Incredibly stupid!!!

Like this comment
Posted by A Smarter Palo Alto
a resident of Community Center
on May 10, 2010 at 11:06 am

While I live close to the Main Library, I think this is not a wise use of city funds. If we cannot afford to have crossing guards to protect our kids walking to school in the morning, how can we justify continuing to fund more libraries per capita than any of our neighboring municipalities?

I also agree given the speed of technology growth, the is a very large risk that libraries become a less relevant and required public resource over time. My family reads many, many books, and most of these we download already.

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Posted by grant
a resident of College Terrace
on May 10, 2010 at 11:10 am

great idea---i hope palo alto residents get first choice to buy these great bonds

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Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Less than a decade? I think that's being excessively optimistic. If the publishing industry can get its act together and release everything as an e-book in under 10 years, that will be something. I'm not a fan of e-books. Convenient, yes. But, try lending an e-book to a friend, donating an e-book to the library, etc. Doesn't work as well.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Another excuse to raise our property taxes!!!

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Posted by Matt
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Glad I did not have to go to the library to read about this farce.

Palo Alto is investing in buggy whips as a new information age is at everyone’s fingertips.

No, what’s the money really for? You can tell us. 60 million for three libraries? Palo Alto, how stupid do you think we are.


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Posted by Remember
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Matt and A Smarter Palo Alto, please remember that a majority of the vocal residents of the City want the branch library system that we have now. The last Library Director got ran out of town, in part, due to her proposal to go to a single library system. Does a branch library system make financial sense? Of course not, but just because something costs too much doesn't mean that you don't buy it. You simply pay too much for it and take that money from somewhere else, like crossing guards. The City funds a lot of other things that don't make financial sense, the Children's theater for example. How about Foothills Park? When is the last time you or anyone on your street actually visited this resident-only park that is in another community. I go there about once every other week and rarely encounter another person during my visit. However, the City has to pay to maintain the grounds.

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Posted by Mom w/ 2kids
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I agree that palo alto libraries are old and need a new look. however, i totally disagree that we need FIVE libraries within the city. Look around the bay area, in particular other cities around us such as los altos, cupertino, these cities SHARE the santa clara library system which everyone can benefit from all the resources for the county. Why can't palo alto jump onto the wagon? less libraries, more resources.

by the way, i have stopped going to mitchell park library because i cannot find any new up-to-date books for my kids. i can easily reserve in santa clara library without LONG wait.

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm

>”If the publishing industry can get its act together and release everything as an e-book in under 10 years, that will be something.”

Yes, the publishing industry is slow to move, but e-books have been pushing them for content for at least 10 years. Now there are actually devices on the market, so publishers have to figure out how to get in the game.

Apple has already sold about 1M iPads in the US. Estimates for total Kindle sales in 30 months is 2 – 3M.

E-books have taken 12% of the American market.

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Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm

$60 million? Wow. The primary beneficiary is a new library and community center in South Palo Alto. Web Link

We're within ten years of libraries losing significance. We'll still need places to gather, talk to, and learn from one another. It'll be interesting because citizens will be lining up to give their paper books to the library in an effort to clear space from their $1000 a square foot homes.

Paper books don't much much sense anymore.

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Posted by anon
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on May 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm


I got an alert from Firefox that the link in the above post goes to a site that has been reported for distribution of malware.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm

There are still places where a real book makes more sense than an ebook.

I wouldn't want to take a book to the beach, or camping, or backpacking, or anywhere where electricity is not so easy to come by, or to somewhere where it may easily be dropped, or have spills. Hospitals frequently want no technology running next to their high tech equipment. Planes want no technology for the first part and end of flights. Real books are easier to read cuddled up in bed, or for bedtime stories for kids.

Ebooks have and will continue to have their place, but I think we are a long time from getting away from them altogether.

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Posted by Confused
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

$60MILLON?!!??!?!?! For three libraries???? Why do we need 3 more when there is a BRAND NEW ONE in town? I am sickened by this city's dispersement of funds. Read here: Web Link

The 2 of the council members want to put a price on freedom. This officer is out there risking his life for our freedom gee and it only cost him $40,000. And the city he works and protects wants to put in 3 libraries? How many other cities have 3 library with the same sq. footage as ours? They took the money away for a new police building they should take this money back too and put this back into the fund and let these people keep their jobs!

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

Confused -

I totally agree that having FIVE libraries is a ridiculous, fiscally irresponsible use of taxpayers money. Think of the many other valuable things 60 million could do. We have children being mugged in broad daylight downtown, yet we want to decrease our police presence? Fiscally irresponsible.

Like this comment
Posted by Again?
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2010 at 10:45 am

Haven't you people read the TWENTY THREE STUDIES that show that every dollar invested in libraries returns five dollars to the investors with multipliers???

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2010 at 11:01 am

Yes, but can we put that money in the bank to pay our bills?

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

Again - so when all the libraries are built, 300 million dollars will magically flow into Palo Alto! How wonderful!

Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2010 at 11:45 am

This is another example of the City staff and City Council wanting to build a new building while reducing the services provided there.

Remember when staff wanted a new police building? Now staff is recommending cuts in the number of police officers and the services they provide. Also, staff plans soon to bring the City Council another proposal for a new, larger police building to house the smaller number of police officers and support staff.

The City's long range financial plan estimates an additional $1,000,000 a year of salary and benefits to staff the enlarged libraries at the same time the proposed budget is reducing library staff.

The reason the Downtown Library was included in the bond measure for the Main Library and Mitchell Park Library is that polling showed the bond measure would be defeated if the proposal omitted the Downtown Library.

Mitchell Park is the logical location for a system with a single library, but you would never get people north of Oregon Expressway to vote for putting the only library in a place that many people in north Palo Alto don't consider part of Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I'd be perfectly happy with only the new Mitchell Park library and the renovated Children's library as our two libraries. Mitchell Park is a lot closer than the Mountain View and Los Altos Libraries where I go now! And we could use the land Main is on for a new public safety building.

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