Campaign for a permanent home – next steps

(Dec. 23, 2022)

The CDC building 86 Echo Ave.

With Oakland City Council’s approval of the long-term lease agreement for the former Child Development Center site*, the campaign for a permanent home enters a new phase. As described in the December HOOT, the next step is for the Oakland to initiate a feasibility study for the conversion of the existing building to a branch library. The City’s Library and Public Works Departments are working on how to get the feasibility study done to meet the deadline of November 1, 2024 for submitting a Conceptual Design to Oakland Unified School District. We expect that Friends of PAL will be part of the study’s process for public input.

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Early in January the Executive Board of Friends of PAL discussed the project with Jamie Turbak, Oakland Library Director, who identified fundraising as a major hurdle regardless of how big or small the cost will be for the conceptual design. The lease allows either party to “opt out” before November 30, 2024–the most likely reason for that to happen would be if the city doesn’t have funds committed for construction by that date. Ideally the feasibility study would provide a cost estimate in time for the mid-cycle budget process that will start in spring 2024, but there are no guarantees that the CDC project will get on the priority list for capital project funding. Unless the costs are for a very minimal renovation, the project will probably need to put together multiple sources of funding.

Starting January 17, Friends meetings will discuss these issues and recruit volunteers to help work on possible fundraising options; these may include grants, private fundraising, and a local parcel assessment for just the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood (similar to one that helped fund the Rockridge branch in 1991).

*The lease is written for 50 years with possible renewals; full text It provides that no rent will be paid on the CDC until 2026 or a certificate of occupancy is issued for the branch to move to the renovated building.  In the meantime, the branch library will continue in the existing portable building. 

By Arleen Feng, member of the Steering Committee of Friends of Piedmont Avenue Library 

A Home for Our Library? Opportunities and Challenges Ahead
(Dec. 22, 2022)

In welcome news for supporters of PAL, the Oakland Unified School District has approved a long-term lease agreement for the former Child Development Center at 86 Echo Ave, subject to Oakland City Council’s final approval at the second of two readings scheduled for December 20. The first reading of the lease proposal passed as part of the Council’s consent agenda on December 6.

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Adoption of this agreement will clear the way for the City’s “due diligence” in deciding whether to actually make the CDC a new home for the Piedmont Avenue branch. That process will include the following steps:

  1. A feasibility study is budgeted to start this Fiscal Year, which would evaluate existing conditions, prepare schematic plans for a proposed branch library on the site, and estimate construction costs. A public input process will involve members of the neighborhood and school communities.
  2. City Council will consider the feasibility study’s recommendations and decide whether to allocate funds for the project in a budget for future Capital Improvement Projects. Currently there is no identified source of funds for remodeling or reconstruction at the CDC site, and Oakland’s library system faces significant capital budget needs for other branches and neighborhoods that lack any library branch.
  3. If the new branch project proposal is approved and budgeted by City Council by November 2024, planning for it can continue to move forward; otherwise, the City can terminate the lease before the 11/30/24 “opt-out” deadline that is written into the agreement.

Friends of PAL will continue working with OPL and other library advocates as this process gets underway. We are thankful to all who sent messages to support passage of the lease agreement and hope to welcome people interested in working on deeper outreach and areas of fundraising which could include grants and campaigning for a local parcel assessment to support the Piedmont Avenue Branch. Please let us know at

By Arleen Feng, member of the Steering Committee of Friends of Piedmont Avenue Library 

Another Step Forward Toward Making the CDC Building a Permanent Home for Our Library

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Board meeting on April 14 approved a resolution that is a small step towards making the former Piedmont Child Development Center (CDC) into a permanent and larger home for the Piedmont Avenue Branch Library.

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To urge passage of this consent resolution, Friends of Piedmont Avenue Library (PAL) assembled a comprehensive 20-page information packet explaining the background facts and showing strong support from all sectors of the community. The packet was sent to the OUSD Board members the previous week. PAL supporters also submitted many e-comments, which are posted on the resolution page and will remain for some days after the meeting.

This resolution paves the way for OUSD to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) to rehabilitate and convert the CDC building to a public library. This procedural step is required by the state Education Code before OUSD can take the step of working on a long-term joint occupancy lease agreement between the school district and the City of Oakland for a library in the CDC. Oakland Public Library (OPL) administration has been aware of this process and is working with the City Attorney and other City departments to see how OPL can develop a proposal.

Meanwhile, City staff are working to estimate the costs of renovation and repair for the CDC. The City’s Library Department has requested planning funds to do a feasibility study, and we believe that request will be included in the draft Capital Improvement Program that the City Council will review soon, as part of the 2021-2023 budget to be finalized in June. Dan Kalb has said that this item is one of his top priorities for the Capital Improvement list. We know that more funding, beyond what could be approved for the feasibility study, will be needed in the future to bring the concept to construction reality.

Friends of PAL will continue to coordinate with Library staff to learn how we can help. 

By Arleen Feng, member of the Steering Committee of Friends of Piedmont Avenue Library