Best Practices

 

CITY OF CHULA VISTA
Mayor Shirley Horton

EastLake Library Community Service Partnerships

Since the mid-1980s, Chula Vista has grown into an ethnically diverse suburban city with a population of 150,000; this is due in part to the development of several master-planned communities to the east. Access to a nearby public library was a priority to many of these new residents. In fact, in a survey conducted in the EastLake master-planned community, close proximity to a library was ranked as the residents' number one priority.

The residents of the long-established western portion of the city are well-served by the Chula Vista Public Library system, including a regional 55,000-square-foot facility and another 37,000-square-foot branch which opened to the public in January 1995. While long range facility planning ultimately calls for two new libraries to serve the growing, eastern portion of Chula Vista, the challenge was to establish public library service in this area of the city in a timely, cost-effective manner.

Sites for the two eastern regional libraries have been donated by the developers. Funding to construct these two libraries will come from the city's Development Impact Fees. Unfortunately, the current recession has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the level of housing construction, resulting in Development Impact Fees being collected more slowly than originally anticipated. Therefore, construction of even one of the two proposed libraries is many years away.

Even in the 1980s, the City recognized that construction of the eastern regional libraries might be some years off and did attempt to ensure that interim library service would be established in a timely manner. Under a public facilities and financing plan, the EastLake Development Company was not only donating the permanent site for one of the future regional libraries, but was also obligated to provide a rent-free shopping center site for five years, as well as funding for one year of specified staffing and seven to eight thousand books at approximately $10 per volume. Unfortunately, the recession had also delayed the construction of the shopping center and, in turn, the implementation of the interim service.

This meant that residents of eastern Chula Vista could not expect conveniently located public library services in or near their neighborhoods for many years to come. In fact, some residents would need to continue driving as much as nine miles to the nearest west side library.

In 1991, the superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District proposed that the city consider utilizing the 19,000-square-foot library facility at a new high school campus then being built in the EastLake master-planned community. Further, the superintendent proposed that the city could use this facility rent free. With this offer, the city saw a possible solution of the need to establish public library service in eastern ChulaVista.

Negotiations between the city and the high school district began in the fall of 1991 with a goal of making this partnership a reality. A year and a half later a detailed, three-year contractual agreement was approved. Separate negotiations also were conducted between the city and the EastLake Development Company.

From the public library's perspective, there were a number of major hurdles to overcome. The library/media center building, although a physically stunning facility, is located on the rear of the campus, with no direct access from a parking lot. Additionally, hours of service and possible censorship issues were also important concerns. Therefore, the final contract was intended to very specifically address these and other issues. The agreement specifies:

  • The duration is three years with an option to renew and establishes a pilot Public Library project during that period.
  • The district allows the city the use of the library facility rent free, provides custodial services, and pays for all utilities.
  • Except for specifically designated areas, such as the public librarian's office, the exterior book drop, and the delivery areas, the district has preferential use of the library facilities during the school day and the public library has preferential use during other times. The public library hours are currently 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Public library hours will be re-evaluated on a periodic or annual basis.
  • Designated on-campus parking for public library patrons and staff is provided.
  • The city provides directional street signs and the district provides directional signs to the library from the campus entrance and the parking lots.
  • Both the public library and the district share in the responsibility to provide library furniture and equipment. For example, the district provides adult-sized library furniture, telephone instruments, and a book security system. The city provides the automated circulation system/online public catalog, cash register, outside book drop and child-sized furniture. Both maintain and repair their respective furnishings and equipment.
  • The district follows the city's policies regarding patron registration, loan periods, fines, access to materials and restrictions for delinquencies.
  • Fines and fees collected during each party's hours of operation are retained by the collecting party.
  • Both the city and the district make reasonable efforts to maintain and enrich the book collection.
  • Both parties allow all patrons equal access to all library materials, regardless of jurisdiction or ownership. Neither the city nor the district has the right to remove, label or prohibit access to any library material owned by the other party.
A separate agreement with the EastLake Development Company modified the original public facilities and financing plan in regards to both the permanent and interim library duties as follows:
  • EastLake Development Company will pay the city $716,275 over four years in lieu of providing the interim (shopping center/storefront) library. The first two payments covered all of the city's one-time start-up costs and all the costs associated with the first year of operations of the EastLake Library, resulting in no General Fund obligations until FY 1994-95. Because of this agreement, the city will not incur the full cost of branch services until FY 1997-98.
  • The city will decide within three to five years after the start of the pilot project at the high school library whether the site reserved for the construction of a regional library will be needed. If the city decides that the pilot project at the high school is a success, the developer is obligated to trade the parcel for another similar parcel within the development or buy the parcel back from the city at 100 percent of fair market value.
A gala community celebration opened the EastLake Library to the public in August 1993. The event featured all three partners in this unique facility -- the city, the school district and the developer.

During its first year of operation, this unique joint-use library has seen considerable success. Most importantly, the residents of EastLake and other eastern Chula Vista neighborhoods now have nearby access to public library services years earlier than could otherwise be provided.

The city incurred no cost to the general fund for either the start-up costs (including the purchase of the first 7,000 books) or for the entire first year of operation and will not pay for the full cost of annual operation until FY 1997-98. Since both the city and the district support the book collection, both the public and the high school students have access to 25,000 volumes---a larger book collection than would otherwise be possible. Additionally, through the Public Library's online access catalog, the holdings of the entire public library system are available to the high school students via daily delivery service. The books at all San Diego and Imperial County libraries are also available to students because of the public library's membership in the Serra Cooperative Library System.

Usage of the facility continues to expand. Book checkout has grown by 89 percent during the first full year of operation. Saturday story hours, which are intended to be one of the gateways to life-long learning, now reach 75 to 80 additional preschoolers. Some 560 people attended special programs during Public Library hours during July 1994.

The Public Library has partnered with high school classes to assist with children's programming and to design and implement a mural in the children's section. Public librarians have visited the on-site adult school classes and librarians have arranged for foreign exchange students to be paired with high school peers for day long visits to the school.

Additionally, Public Library staff members have been actively involved with projects coordinated by the developer, including various sporting events and other public relations activities. Indeed the success of this project has depended on cooperation of all three partners.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (619) 691-5044

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