Library Ready for new Chapter

Los Osos Library

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

August 12, 2021

The final meeting to discuss changes at the Los Osos Library takes place Monday, August 16.

Two decades and a pandemic are not going to keep the Los Osos Library from starting a new chapter. The long-awaited expansion project is resuming after things came to a COVID-19 halt in 2020.

The final public meeting, a presentation of the conceptual design work reflective of operational needs and community feedback, takes place Monday, August 16 at 6 p.m. at the Cal Fire/SLO County Fire Station – 880 Manzanita Drive, Los Osos in the South Bay Training Center multi-purpose room. 

“The Los Osos Library is an incredible community asset providing a cultural center to lifelong learning,” said Christopher Barnickel, the county director of libraries. “The current building has served the community well, but an expansion and refresh is necessary to continue to meet the growing needs of the community. In order to accomplish that end, we need community support and buy-in to make this project proposal a reality. The new design is a gem and will be seen as a place of civic pride for years to come.” 

In late 2019, a well-attended workshop put on by the County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries in partnership with Friends of the Los Osos Library asked for a vote on four possible options for the project including an extensive retrofit and expansion of the current location, construction of a new facility on the corner of Los Osos Valley Road and Palisades Avenue, an improvement/remodel on an existing building on Los Osos Valley Road, or a new facility on a vacant parcel on 2nd or 3rd streets in the heart of a Baywood Park neighborhood. The retrofit and expansion ranked highest.

“The other options weren’t popular with those who attended previous community meetings and/or became too costly or complicated to move forward in a timely manner,” Barnickel said.

At that time, plans were to put a bond measure on the ballot to help pay for the estimated $4.94 million project, which would also be infused with more than a million in funds raised by Friends of the Los Osos Library. That plan didn’t come to life. 

“The proposed ballot measure in November 2020 never saw the light of day with the expectation that the pandemic would hit the local economy hard,” Barnickel said. “We are currently working with the Administrative Office and Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator on options to bring before the Board of Supervisors to fund the project.” 

Barnickel says plans are to present the proposal in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2022.

Things have changed in many ways since the 2019 meetings meetings, notably the number of people living in their vehicles on Palisades Avenue, where the library, a church, the community center and a park are located. The issue has raised concerns from the community.

“Very few people choose to live without permanent shelter,” Barnickel said. “There are a myriad of reasons that led to the current circumstances individuals in that area are facing. While no blanket solution will address every individual need, having access to services and a path to more permanent shelter should go a long way toward providing security to those in need.  Moreover, the impacts of parking access and trash abatement should also be addressed.”

Multi-agency and community efforts to address the increasing homeless population were presented to the Board of Supervisors and a safe parking program goes into effect on Aug.13, but is expected to take some time enforce.

The library dates back to 1940 when it opened as a room in a home located in Baywood Park. It has moved at least 9 times over the years, always looking for more space. The current facility was built in 1981 and was designed to serve a population of 10,000. In 1999, the Friends of the Los Osos Library and the County of San Luis Obispo began planning for a new facility on the existing site.

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