“Old” Mission Hills Library
In January 2019, The Mission Hills Library moved to its new location at 215 West Washington Street, between Goldfinch and Hawk Streets. The “New” Mission Hills-Hillcrest/Knox Library is more than three times the size of the previous location and has several upgrades such as a community meeting space, a children’s room, garden space and underground parking.
Community organizations were asked to provide guidance on potential uses of the Old Library space.
On February 13, 2020, Mayor Kevin Faulkoner released his long-awaited request for proposals that includes adding permanent supportive housing units on the Mission Hills property at 925 W. Washington, the old Mission Hills Library site.
Subsequently, City Council Member Chris Ward released a memo responding to the mayor’s plan. You can view all of the relevant documents on this page.
The Mission Hills Town Council’s most recent communication regarding the Old Library was sent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer on August 11, 2019.
The letter stated:
The Mission Hills Town Council would like to see this supportive housing project succeed while also honoring the wishes and concerns of the community in which it will be situated. The community has voiced the sentiments that Permanent Supportive Housing for a senior and/or veteran population is more conducive to a site situated in a pivotal area of our small community near several schools and a public park.
Additionally, Mission Hills residents have requested the first floor be used commercially. The community also has concerns about the current security and maintenance of the Old Library site, now that the building is vacant. In an effort to avoid a derelict building in the main commercial core of the neighborhood, we are requesting that the City of San Diego ensure that the area is fully secured, properly lighted, and regularly maintained throughout the RFP process and subsequent development.
You can click on the image to view, or download a PDF here.
The Mission Hills Town Council sent a letter to Councilmember Ward on 11/30/18 outlining what the MHTC Board of Trustees initially voted to support:
- Preserving the building as it exists and adaptively reuse for active public or business use;
- Site should provide parking for the fire station;
- A well-lit, high use building to maintain the safety of the area;
- Any proposed future development (such as business or mixed-use with ground floor retail, restaurant or office/co-working space with extended hours) should preserve the original architectural intent by maintaining the existing façade and also be compatible with the historic character of the neighborhood.
You can download a PDF here.
In order to arrive at the key points outlined above, the Town Council led a discussion with members of the community, MHH and BID representatives to discuss potential uses for the site. Community members and local business owners stressed the need for an enterprise that would benefit the community and ensure a thriving public or business use in the existing space so as not to contribute to the problem of vagrancy. Height limitations and architectural integrity were also discussed.
The Board considered the possibilities for maintaining the building as a community asset (meeting spaces, community center, co-working space) noting that some functions could be subsumed by the new library and Grant School expansion. It was advised that the building requires extensive upgrades (new roof, ADA compliance, etc.) and the City of San Diego does not have funding available to perform the upgrades. The Board explored the possibility of the City selling the building or site for development, instead of maintaining the site as a community asset. MHTC agreed that if the site was developed for commercial or mixed-use, preserving the original architectural intent, with original elements and maintaining parking spots for the fire station is preferred.
Councilmember Ward’s most recent communication regarding the Old Library was sent on September 1st, 2020. Prior to that, his last memo was on June 18, 2019, both memos reiterate his initial requests for use of the space (see below) and added that, “While utilizing existing City assets to address the need for permanent supportive housing in each of our communities must remain a priority, this is a mixed-use site with broader potential for additional community benefits if done correctly”
Click the image to view the 09/01/2020 memo, or you can download a PDF here.
Click the image to view the 6/18/2019 memo, or you can download a PDF here.
Councilmember Ward’s first memo to Mayor Faulconer proposed that the City issue a Request for Proposals for the site to include a mixed-use residential project with the following requests:
- At least 20% Affordable housing units on site, with the potential for permanent supportive housing units connected to an established network system;
- Opportunity for ground level commercial;
- Inclusion of 8 parking spaces for exclusive use of Fire Station #8;
- Preservation of the existing mid-century modern front facade.
You can download a PDF here.
The Mission Hills Heritage board of directors unanimously adopted a resolution recommending to the City of San Diego that the old Library building, as an example of Mid-Century Modern architecture and a fixture in the community, be preserved and adaptively reused for a public use, such as a community center.
Click the image to view the resolution, or click here to download a PDF.
June 20th, 2023 – Update from Mission Hills Heritage
CITY COUNCIL DENIES APPEAL AND AFFIRMS HISTORCIAL DESIGNATION OF THE MISSION HILLS BRANCH PUBLIC LIBRARY.
We are pleased to announce that the San Diego City Council voted today to deny the appeal of the historical designation of the Mission Hills Branch Public Library. The 5-3 decision, affirming the historical designation, was based on a motion brought by Councilmember Stephen Whitburn and seconded by Councilmember Marni von Wilpert.
This decision concludes a saga that began in September 2020 when local resident Clint Daniels appealed the City’s Historic Resources Board’s determination to historically designate the building in a 9-1 “slam dunk” vote. Because Daniels never sought to docket the appeal, it took almost three years for the matter to make it to today’s hearing, during which time the branch library has sat vacant, suffering from neglect and vandalism. It is our sincere hope that, with the designation in place, the City of San Diego will finally take action to allow the library to be adaptively reused for the benefit of our community.
We wish to thank all the residents who took time out of their busy schedules to attend in person or over Zoom to testify in favor of maintaining the designation and denying the appeal. Your voices were heard by the City Council and the right outcome was achieved!