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 80 Echo Avenue. Since 2019 our efforts have focused on the vacant building next door at 86 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.)

In 2023 the Oakland Public Library (OPL) and Public Works (OPW) departments selected HY Architects to conduct a feasibility study of how to adapt the former CDC site for a new branch library to better meet current and future needs. At community meetings during January, March and May 2024, they presented an overview of the following milestones planned for the feasibility study:

    • January 23: in-person and zoom meetings to collect community ideas on requirements for the new branch.
    • March community meetings to review preliminary design options based on community input at meetings and via phone or survey comments.
    • May community meetings to review two developed design proposals, one based on a remodel of the existing building and one for all-new construction.
    • September 1: submit revised design options to Oakland’s Library and Public Works departments for approval.
    • November 1, 2024: submit OPL-approved design options to Oakland Unified School District, as required by Joint Use Lease Agreement
The meetings on May 1st and 2nd presented plans and renderings (simulated views) of two leading design choices for a new branch on the former CDC site:

    1. Remodel of the existing building with some added space for a community room and support functions (roughly similar to the concept Option 2 in the March presentations)
    2. An all-new building, similar in size to Option 4 shown in March but with significant reconfiguration of some parts, especially towards the northeast (back) end of the building.
View the presentation at (PDF, 9.5 Mb)
Printed copies of the plans and renderings are at the branch library; view just comparisons of square footage and other factors at
Many May attendees supported the new construction option that is preferred by OPL staff but others from the immediate neighborhood raised concerns about the larger size and massing of the building along Glen Avenue.
Friends of PAL really appreciate everyone who took time to attend meetings or provide comments; we plan to host an in-person update from library staff at one of our meetings before the feasibility study is submitted in September. 
OPL and city staff have been meeting weekly with the architecture team and will determine a single final design to propose in the Feasibility Study report as a base for further cost estimating and funding ideas. The Library has secured funding to prepare detailed building plans and HY hopes to be able to start work on that task in 2025 subject to OUSD approval of the design.
Future updates or events about the project will be posted at 
Scroll down for more details and links from community meetings, as well as earlier history leading up to the feasibility study.  

January 23: About 50 in-person attendees brainstormed wishes and ideas for a future branch–highlights reported to the group included:

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  • Enough space so whole classes from Piedmont Ave. Elementary School can visit regularly, to make up for not having a working library within the school.
  • Different areas where readers, computer users, teens and other library users can gather.
  • Flexible spaces that can allow for small groups working together or open up for large programs or meetings.
  • Outdoor spaces that can be used year-round for programs or activities.
  • Good disabled access (ADA compliance) throughout the facility.
  • Dedicated off-street parking spots for disabled users and also for staff.
  • Partnerships or sponsorships with Kaiser and local businesses for funding, special materials such as board games, etc.

Attendees included Library Director Jamie Turbak and other staff from OPL and OPW, and our elected District 1 representatives Sam Davis from the Board of Education and Dan Kalb from City Council.

March 13/14: HY Architects summarized their work for the Feasibility Study, beginning with analysis of the existing library portable building and the CDC site, and then listing the space requirements for the wish list expressed by the community. For discussion those wishes were translated into 4 layout possibilities:

    1. Remodeling the existing building without any additions – 6370 square feet; with only a small interior Community Room, no Maker Space, and some inefficiencies in library layout.
    2. Remodeling the existing building with an 850 sq. ft. addition that provides a standalone Community Room that can be used when the rest of the library is closed; also allows better room for restrooms and administrative spaces.
    3. Replacing the existing building with an all-new building of around 9,000 sq. ft; would almost double existing shelf space for books, improves flow and accessibility.
    4. An alternate layout option for a-new building, including different configuration of Children’s Room, Maker Space and Teen Area.

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These layouts focused on the organization of interior space but the architects acknowledged the requests for uses for the exterior parts of the site and have tried to increase places for indoor-outdoor connection. At this stage they haven’t worked on exterior appearance of the building.

Meeting attendees appreciated the work that has gone into the study so far, and raised questions and concerns including:

  • A kitchen that could be used by the school as well as library-sponsored programs or classes: Dr. Zarina Ahmad, principal of Piedmont Avenue Elementary, recounted how years were spent advocating for a school kitchen project only to see it delayed and downsized by OUSD after cost overruns on bond funding.
  • Construction impacts to neighbors: The architects estimated these would be similar for all options, taking about 16-18 months.

The architects’ slide presentation is available in 2 ways:  


    • Part A: project roadmap, analysis of site and space needs and 4 layout options (PDF, 6 MB)
    • Part B: photo images to inspire ideas & reactions for individual spaces (PDF, 6MB)


Next Steps

 The feasibility study aims to provide:

          1. Schematic plans that fit the needs of OPL to serve the neighborhood and school community,
          2. Cost estimates to support decision-making among design options and requests for future funding, and
          3. Suggestions for possible funding sources.

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.

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 86 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 80 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.

Updated information packet for City Council

FAQs for Statements of Support November 2022 

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