The city of San Diego announced Thursday that $20 million of the state budget will fund the construction of an entirely new Oak Park Public Library, following years of community advocacy.
The state budget includes $68.5 million for the city to support libraries, parks, cultural projects, green jobs and public safety. The Oak Park Library is getting the largest single portion of the funding.
“This is what government is supposed to do — listen closely to the community, put their request to work and bring home the resources,” said Mayor Todd Gloria at a press conference outside the library alongside Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assemblywoman Akilah Weber and other officials.
The Oak Park Library is one of the smallest libraries of the city’s 36 branches. Katie Brasco, a volunteer with the Friends of Oak Park Library, said the community is made up largely of lower income, working families. Brasco said Oak Park’s population has been growing, and its needs aren’t being met by the current facility.
“Our community has historically been left out of a lot of things funding wise from the city, and now that the city is taking an equity-based approach, we’re finally starting to actually see that come to fruition,” Brasco said.
The city will now begin the design phase with community input.
The new library will be located near the northside of Chollas Lake Park. It’s slated to be 20,000 square feet with a 16,000-square-foot parking lot.
Assemblywoman Weber grew up just blocks away from the library, which has served her and others for 53 years now. She said the project will give the community a “state of the art” library with computers and a learning center. Gloria said they will also build a community center in the library named after Atkins.
Oak Park Community Council President Elida Chavez said advocates have been petitioning the City Council to fund the library for years.
Chavez said she wants the library to be a resource hub for low-income families. Beyond computer access, she wants the new library to be a place for parents to find job opportunities, for families to learn about health programs and services available to them and a place to help guide children into higher education.
“It’s more than happiness, it’s more than excitement,” Chavez said. “It’s the spirit of community, it’s the spirit of collaboration.”
Congratulations to the Oak Park Friends for your decades of tireless advocacy for a new facility!
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