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Library Wars: (Another) Shitstorm for North Beach

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The Fro-Yo War ends, and another begins: North Beach's new library has already found itself at the center of a perfect shitstorm. Problem: how do you fit a new library with a planned ground-floor footprint of at least 5,700 square feet on a lot— the infamous North Beach Triangle— that measures only 4,120 square feet? (We believe the colloquial expression is "10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag.") Solution: close Mason street and expand the triangle. Enter: a whole lot of pissed off North Beach residents. Despite the intentions of the Parks Department to transform the Triangle into a park, it has remained a parking lot eyesore for years due to a lack of funds; the library is the first proposal to gain traction since an ill-fated, four-story apartment building was schemed up back in 2004. So why are people so bent over a site that has stood vacant for years, and a building that the city apparently can't afford to renovate?

Closing Mason Street isn't exactly a popular idea, but some opponents of the project are interested in protecting the existing Joe DiMaggio Playground (or they're holding out for a new green space). North Beach neighbors also find fault in locating the library on the Triangle— estimates show room for only a 10-15% expansion of the collection. Bigger (potential) problem: the site offers no room to expand the building itself. Ever. Unless, that is, the city decides to dig up and relocate all the utilities that run under what we currently know as Mason Street. As if North Beach neighbors would allow for that to happen. The San Francisco Library Commission gave the project its full endorsement last week— the project is moving forward with the design process and Environmental Impact Review. Fans of architects Leddy Maytum Stacy have faith that the design, when unveiled, will quiet the voices of dissenters. Commence with the rendering watch ...
· North Beach Library and why it matters [Towse]
· North Beach Opposes Library. No Kidding! [Curbed SF]

[image via San Francisco Public Library]