Campaign for a permanent home – where we are

The Friends of PAL have been actively campaigning for a permanent home for the Piedmont Avenue Branch, which for over a decade has been housed in a portable building at 86 Echo Avenue. Since 2019 our efforts have focused on the vacant building next door at 80 Echo–the former Child Development Center (CDC) which like the current branch is part of the Piedmont Avenue Elementary School grounds. (For more details about the campaign history, see below.)

As of June 2023 the Oakland Public Library (OPL) and Public Works (PW) departments are in the final stages of selecting a consultant to conduct a feasibility study of how to repair and renovate the CDC building to become our library.

Next steps

    1. To streamline the feasibility study, PW is selecting from a list of pre-approved “on-call” consultants. After negotiating a specific scope of work and schedule with the selected consultant, the team of city project managers and their consultants will reach out to Friends of PAL and other stakeholders, probably in July or August 2023. There will be at least 1-2 public meetings for community input and discussion of design ideas that may be proposed by the team. The feasibility study aims to provide:
      1. Schematic plans that fit the needs of OPL to serve the neighborhood and school community, and
      2. Cost estimates to support requests for future funding.
    2. Getting construction funding will be a major challenge, especially since the lease agreement includes an “opt-out” provision if the city does not guarantee funding by November 2024. Ideally project cost estimates would be ready to propose as part of the city’s mid-cycle budget process starting in spring 2024, but it’s extremely unlikely that the budget for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) would support significant costs for remodeling, and both OPL and Friends are seeking outside funding.
    3. If the project secures enough funding, the next step would be to prepare detailed plans and specifications to be the basis for contracting and construction. Because the property will still be owned by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), plans would also be reviewed by the state for compliance with school requirements.
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The lease agreement is written for 50 years with possible renewals;  read full text. It states that no rent will be paid on the CDC until 2026 or a certificate of occupancy is issued for the library to move to the renovated building. In the meantime, the branch library will continue in the existing portable building at 86 Echo Ave. 

Oakland’s CIP budget process evaluates projects according to multiple prioritization factors, described here. The main funding source is voter-approved bonds, from which allocations are predetermined for various departments including libraries, public works (streets, sidewalks and park facilities), etc.

How you can help

  • Contact us
  • Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter and alerts about important developments.
  • Volunteer at one of our events: periodic clean-ups around the CDC, and outreach tabling in the Piedmont Ave. neighborhood.
  • Volunteer to help with grant research, posting library news on social media, speaking to neighbors or groups that you know, making contacts with prospective donors – or whatever other skills and interests you’d like to bring to the campaign.


1932: Piedmont Avenue Branch library moves to 100 41st Street from a previous location on Piedmont Avenue.

1971: New Piedmont “Children’s’ Center” (later renamed CDC to reflect an increased emphasis on preschool education) opens at 80 Echo Avenue.

2009-12: OPL and Friends of PAL begin searching for another branch location because of massive rent increases by the new owner of the building at 41st St. They determine the best outcome for cost and location is leasing the portable building at 86 Echo, where it can provide library access for the elementary students since the school no longer has a staff librarian.

2010: Piedmont CDC is closed due to state budget cuts to early childhood education programs

OUSD Property Information sheet for Piedmont CDC.

2019-21: Concerned by a suggestion from OUSD that the portable building lease might not be renewed in the future, Friends of PAL begins its campaign for a new home and starts looking at the former CDC building. In 2019 OUSD forms a “7-11 Committee” to evaluate possible re-uses of 5 properties including the Piedmont CDC, in a way that complies with regulations in the State Education Code. Friends of PAL conducts community surveys and rallies supporters to contact the 7-11 Committee and OUSD Board in support of a library use.

Information packet to OUSD Board April 2021

2022: After issuing a Request for Proposals to make the CDC a library, OUSD accepts OPL’s proposal and finalizes a long-term lease agreement with the City. Meanwhile, the Oakland City Council has approved Fiscal Year 22-23 funding for a feasibility study on converting the CDC to be a library.

FAQs for Statements of Support November 2022 

By Arleen Feng, Secretary and member of Friends of PAL Board of Directors