Piedmont Avenue Branch Library Friends of the Piedmont Avenue Branch Library
80 + YEARS & Counting! 80 Echo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

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The Campaign for a Permanent Home – What is Being Done Now?

The group working toward a permanent home for the Piedmont Avenue Branch Library has been meeting once a month since September 2018, searching for possible sites, exploring possible ways to fund all the costs that will be involved, and keeping everyone in the neighborhood informed about the efforts.

A 6-member Steering Committee coordinates the work. They are Tom Mysz, Joanna Smith, Peg Janosch, Ronile Lahti, Sabrina Bowerman, Arleen Feng. As you see them in the neighborhood, ask them about their work.

What’s in a name?
Friends of PAL is their new, easy to pronounce name. While we loved and respected FriendsofPAL, we are happy to drop the “B” and make the formal name Friends of Piedmont Avenue Library, or Friends of PAL. At the May meeting, the change was made formal.

Elevator speech
If you had only about 30 seconds, how would you explain to someone why you want a permanent home for the library? At the last meeting of Friends of PAL, everyone there got some instruction and practiced doing just that with an expert advisor and consultant.

The next meeting begins at 6:30 pm on May 29 at the library. You are invited.

FriendsofPAL Campaign for a Permanent Library Minutes 2/23/2019

Current Status

Campaign has been underway for six months.
Lease is up (there is an option to renew) in 2022.
OPL has no set plans for a permanent library.
No current funding is available from OPL or City’s budget.
We are exploring the use of a Mello Roos parcel tax initiative.
Main property under discussion is CDC building at Echo & Glen.


There are no funds available for a new branch in OPL or the city as a whole and no plans for any.

The Oakland School district owns the empty CDC property but we have yet to contact a decision maker in the Department.

Kaiser has been contacted on the issue of using their space but they have not responded.

Many at the meeting felt we needed to incorporate as a nonprofit for fundraising and status but are still researching costs – approx. $2,600. Five other Friends groups have incorporated. If incorporating, we will need officers. A list of officer’s duties will be provided at next meeting. We will vote next meeting on incorporation as a 501(c)3.

Social media – Sabina has set up twitter and Instagram accounts and will take over the Facebook page. She will also checkout privacy issues about pictures taken in and outside the library by Friends. R.A. brought up possibility of a “go fund me” campaign and video.


Keep FriendsofPAL name and devise a cuter name for the campaign and fundraising.

Attendees were asked to sign up for committees that interest them. Contact person for each committee will follow up. Committees were asked to meet (in person or email) before next meeting to plan their next actions.

Outreach & communications – Sabrina Siker Bowerman - sabrinasiker@gmail.com
Developer planning & site search - Louis Segal – louis_segal@hotmail.com
Political action – Ronile Lahti - rklahti@aol.com
Finance (not fundraising) – Arleen Feng - ayfeng@alum.mit.edu

Next meeting – Tuesday March 26th, 6:30 PM at the library

Summary of research from the Finance Committee, the Development Committee, the Political Committee, the Site Committee, and the Outreach Committee as of 12/31/18

On September 13, 2018 the Friends of the Piedmont Avenue Branch Library launched a campaign for a permanent home for our neighborhood library.

We assigned teams to research several options for funding the library, interviewing city and library administrators and reaching out to our community. Arleen Feng has taken the lead on this research working with Acting Head of OPL, Jamie Turbak and Gene Tom, OPL’s Fiscal Officer.

Finance & Development:

Acting Head of OPL, Jamie Turbak said there are no set plans for our library after our current lease expires in 2021.

Rent is $2,500 per month to OUSD under our current lease. Oakland Public Library has no funds available for a capital project that would give Piedmont Avenue Branch a permanent building. 

Staffing costs at Piedmont Avenue, as of 11/18, is approximately $552,000 annually.  A larger library would have, of course, have a larger staff.  The Dimond Branch has staffing costs of approximately $1,300,000.

OPL only has money budgeted for the existing Piedmont Avenue Branch.

Gene Tom, OPL Fiscal Officer said that OPL could maintain the service level that's currently in the portable building, but neighborhoods tend to want amenities like community rooms that increase the footprint.

A quick & rough estimate of costs - knowing very little about exact program and building type, any library-type of building at $450-500 / sq ft for new construction. Renovation is about half that, depending on conditions. That's construction cost only, outside of permits, design fees, furniture and equipment, etc.  New 20,000 sq ft library with podium parking: $10-12M construction cost without purchase of land.

 And for timing: usually budget 3 years from when money is in hand and the organization says "go". That's for design, permitting and construction on a small building.

Pending – how do we get funding for land, construction and increased overhead.  Look closely at a local parcel tax.


40th & Howe parking lot: this site is one of 20 being evaluated by the city Economic and Workforce Development Dept as part of the proposed Public Lands Strategy, focusing on housing and NOT driven by or discussed with OPL staff.  There is a mention of the library in the attached "site profile" clipped from Attachment G to the 6/11/18 staff report but no actual program or budget provision has been developed for it.

Child Development Center:  at corner of Glen and Echo Ave: This was identified by Gerry Garzon (previous OPL director) as a possible fall-back during early 2017 when OUSD indicated it might not renew the lease on the existing modular building at 80 Echo.  However as far as Gene Tom knows, Gerry never had any formal analysis done and only limited communication with OUSD about that site since they changed their minds and renewed the lease after all (approved by Council June 2017). 

Rental options:  As fiscal officer, Gene Tom said he feels "rental is not an option" for a permanent branch based on experiences at other leased branches (Chavez and Eastmont). In a mixed-use building he'd rather see the library space be a commercial condominium like the Asian branch, where OPL has some voice in fees/costs.

Pending - We will attempt to get a more complete answer regarding use of the CDC property from Jody London, OUSD Director District 3 with the help of our council person Dan Kalb.  Speak with Kaiser about possible space & follow up with some affordable housing developers.

Outreach: We have distributed flyers at neighborhood events, questioned candidates at a public forum, given out our colorful buttons at the Christmas tree Lighting and now have a regular column “Piedmont Avenue Branch Library News” in the Piedmont Post.
Pending – coordination with PANIL & Dan Kalb’s office

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