The old Mission Hills Library on June 23, 2023.
The old Mission Hills Library on June 23, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Libraries can be community treasures. They offer resources, assistance and educational events. And depending on how long they’ve been around, they feed into the identity and history of a community.

But as neighborhoods outgrow libraries, and get new ones, a question often comes up: What does the city do with the old beloved buildings?

This week, the San Diego City Council weighed in on a request to strip the Mission Hills Library of its historic designation.

Basically, some argued the city should preserve the library because of its history and architecture, and perhaps find another use for it. Others felt that the city should open the site for permanent supportive housing. (The latter is an idea the city’s former mayor once considered.)

The entrance to the old Mission Hills Library on June 23, 2023.
The entrance to the old Mission Hills Library on June 23, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The City Council voted to keep the building’s historic designation. Jesse Marx summarized the discussion here.

The building right now, is not in great shape. Some of the old Mission Hills Library’s windows are broken and some walls are covered with graffiti.

A spokesman for Mayor Todd Gloria told KPBS that the mayor and Councilman Stephen Whitburn have every intention of redeveloping the site into affordable or permanent supportive housing.

But it’s going to take time.

“We’re working to determine exactly what the process will be to accomplish that, which will affect the timeline. Regardless of what process we pursue, we will work closely with the community,” spokesman Dave Rolland told KPBS’s Andrew Bowen.

Other Libraries

The city of San Diego plans to revamp the old Logan Heights library on Logan Avenue and South 28th Street with money from the state. / Photo by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña
The city of San Diego plans to revamp the old Logan Heights library on Logan Avenue and South 28th Street with money from the state. / Photo by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

The old Mission Hills Library isn’t the only one collecting dust.

The city closed the old Logan Heights Library in 2009. And while there is an ongoing effort to fix and reopen it, the 94-year-old building has been empty since, and kind of falling apart.

In 2021, State Sen. Ben Hueso secured $2.4 million in state funding to renovate the space. The 2,960-square-foot building’s ceiling, plumbing, electrical and floors need significant repairs. As well as the exterior — windows are broken, the stair railing is rusted and more.

Months ago, at a community meeting at the new Logan Heights Library located down the block, residents debated what the city could do with the space. Some shared fond memories of the space. Others focused on the future of what it could be. The possibility of redeveloping it never came up. The idea was always to preserve it.

So, Where Is It Now? The city tells me that they are working on getting estimates for additional funding needed to complete the renovation and activation of the old Logan Heights Library.

inewsource reports that it the city plans to get an extension to spend the $2.4 million, since the deadline to spend that money is next spring.

One old library isn’t empty: The city’s old Central Library sat empty for years. That building had its problems, but now, the city is using it as a homeless shelter. The city also has future plans for it.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at

Chisme to Start Your Week

  • Tuesday the San Diego City Council will hold its second vote on the camping ban. Our reporters delivered powerful stories on the ban a couple weeks ago. Catch up here.
  • ICYMI: The City of Poway is also considering a ban on encampments. Voice intern reports that the city’s lack of shelters could prevent enforcement of such a law.
  • Jakob McWhinney reports that San Diego Unified did not hire most of its area superintendents back after vacating the positions in April. Read that story here.
  • In April, Will Huntsberry revealed that police stops have dramatically declined in the last three years. Now, we have a map to show where stops dropped the most. Click here to see how much police stops have declined in your neighborhood.
  • MacKenzie Elmer reports that a treatment plant at the border is more broken than we thought. It needs significant repairs, and that means money that would have gone to building a better one, might have to go toward fixing the broken stuff first.

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Managing Editor, Daily News Andrea oversees the production of daily news stories for Voice of San Diego. She welcomes conversations...

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  1. We should convert them into safe facilities where unhoused citizens can use fentanyl under medical supervision. Too many people dying to overdoses, one of these victims could have cured cancer. Kids here can’t read anyway because the schools are so bad.

  2. 2,960-square-foot building could be built for scratch for much less than the $2.1 million Hueso got for renovation. What a waste of money if spent for this!

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