New Lakeside Library project gets underway

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This week, the county began construction of the new Lakeside Library. The library is a two-acre site. The building will be 16,400 feet and the total budget for the project, excluding land acquisition is $18 million and expected to open in fall 2022. The county’s design-build contract is with PCL Construction, HED is the architect, and White Baux Studio is the interior designer. The new Lakeside Library is located between Parkside Street and Woodside Avenue adjacent to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Ottavio’s Italian Restaurant. The building will be zero-net energy.

San Diego County Library Director Migell Acosta said with the lack of meeting space at the current library, that this will be tremendous for Lakeside. The amenities of the new library include more than 2,000 square feet of community meeting space, a catering kitchen for events, state of the art audio visual system, so it accommodates community and government meetings, lectures, presentation, musical performances and more. There is an outdoor “poet’s patio” for indoor/outdoor events. For the first time in county libraries, there will be a Friends of the Library bookstore. Other amenities are the children’s library, a dedicated area for teens, study room for single or multi-student use, a quiet adult reading area, 24 laptops that can be checked out for use in the library, and a marketplace for shelving its high volume library materials.

“If you have not visited our library lately, our service model has changed dramatically over the years dramatically,” said Acosta. “We used to be known as a library is a musty warehouse of books, but that is long past. Only about 25% of our square footage is devoted to the library collection. What we really have become is community hubs, where we serve as the central hub of the community.”

Acosta said that one of the things he loves about the county library system is that each of its libraries is unique in design for the community.

“We do not have a cookie cutter plan for libraries everywhere,” said Acosta. “We look at the community’s needs, size, and nature of the community. I will say in this location in Lakeside, one of the early directions we gave to the construction and design team was to respect and reflect the natural environment of Lakeside, which is held so dear, which we love as well. You will see that reflected in the design. It gets to the heart of respecting the environment.”

But many people disagreed at the Lakeside Community Planning Group on April 7. There were several discussions about the concept plan, and many after hearing that the 22 jacaranda trees planted on the property nine years ago by the Miles of Trees – Lakeside group.

Steve Schmidt, County of San Diego Department of General Services Capital Programs deputy director said that during the process, it was discovered that the land of the new library has serious bad soil conditions.  Schmidt said it must do a surcharge grading, adding around $600,000 or unexpected work.

“This is dirt that can liquefy,” said Schmidt. “If liquefaction happens during an earthquake, then the building above can displace, then you end up with a cracked slab. The 10 foot pile of dirt is putting weight on that and will compress this soil that is subject to liquefaction.”

Schmidt said due to building, city easements, the digging needed to fix the liquification problem, and the necessity for two storm water retention basins on the property, that all the current trees fall into the footprints of the design plan.

“We are planting 27 trees on the site,” he said. “Our plan is to plant native California trees and other adaptive species that enhance the local Lakeside east county region. The use of noninvasive adaptive plants is drought tolerant and climate appropriate design to provide a contrast of native California plants in the local hillsides and deserts. The implementation of this combination plan helps to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides as well as inorganic fertilizers. The native plant material helps attract local wildlife such as birds, insect pollinators, and beneficial insects to create a thriving and healthy local ecosystem. We will be planting drake evergreen elms, Engelmann oaks, coast live oaks, Mexican sycamore, Desert Museum palo verde.

Schmidt said it looked at the cost of replanting the existing trees and it came up to more than $10,000 per tree.

“The trees do not fit into the palette that was designed for this,” he said. “This is the overall plan. It is a design plan competition. We had three designs submitted. They were presented to the public at the library, and they essentially voted on which plans they liked and did not like about the design. This is the one that prevailed as the best value to the county.”

LCPG Chair Carol Hake reminded everyone that LCPG is an advisory board and has no jurisdiction over the library, or what happens on the property. She did say that she believed that the community had the right to speak directly with the county and the library about their concerns.

“I know it is a very big issue, so as a courtesy to all of our residents, I think that it is important that people have a chance to speak to the right people,” she said.

Jitka Perez said she believed that the county should find a way to keep the trees and that the design is an impressive architectural structure, but in her opinion, it was too much concrete.

“I would like to see a blending of a county facility and the community character of Lakeside,” she said. “Lakeside is one of the last places that is losing its western and rural look fast due to all of this concrete and lack of trees.”

On April 9, local contractors and volunteers relocated three of the jacaranda trees to Lakeside Middle School. There are still four trees remaining on site and will remain on site for a couple of months in case anyone decides to claim them.

New Lakeside Library project gets underway