San Diego

City of San Diego buys parking lot to expand San Carlos Library

The next step is to close the funding gap to complete the design and construction of the new branch

San Diego officials Saturday announced the purchase of the parking lot at Golfcrest Drive and Jackson Drive adjacent to the San Carlos Branch Library, which they're calling a major step in the process of constructing a new, larger library at the site.

"The new San Carlos Library is one of those long-planned projects that should have been done yesterday," Mayor Todd Gloria said.  "Thanks to the leadership of Councilmember Raul Campillo plus funding and advocacy from Congresswoman Sara Jacobs and Senate President Pro-Tem Toni Atkins, we are a big step closer to building the state-of-the-art library that San Carlos residents deserve."

The purchase was decades in the making. At one time, the parking lot was an Arco gas station. Once the lot became vacant, it was envisioned as an expansion opportunity for the current branch.

In 1995, former District 7 Councilwoman Judy McCarty secured a lease with the option for the city to purchase the lot for $150,000. Due to the environmental impact of the gas station, the city was not able to fully purchase the property or start to build anything on it until full cleanup and mitigation of petroleum substances had been finalized.

Last year, after advocacy from Campillo and extensive coordination between the city and the consultant working to remove the site contamination, the San Diego Water Quality Control Board finally recommended that the case be closed and the project cleared for further development, San Diego officials said in a statement.

"The San Carlos neighborhood has waited for a new library for decades- -and at last, we're taking a huge step towards getting that done," Campillo said during a Saturday morning news conference at the site.

"... It's time now to push this project over the finish line and close the funding gap so that construction can begin, and ultimately, the community gets a new library sooner," he added.

The next step in the process is to close the funding gap to complete the design and construction of the new branch. The city allocated $5 million in 2024 from locally collected Development Impact Fees, which are being used as a local match for a state library grant that could potentially provide an additional $10 million, according to a statement from the city.

Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-San Diego, is championing federal funding in the House Appropriations Committee to help fund construction of the project. Last year, she helped secure $500,000 for an Early Learning Lab at the Linda Vista Library, also located in District 7.

"Libraries are the heart of every community, helping to build connections, bridge divides, and educate and empower kids and adults," Jacobs said. "That's why I'm so glad we're making progress to deliver the long- awaited San Carlos Branch Library for the Navajo community to help meet their growing needs."

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