The next chapter for the Laguna Beach Library could mean a new owner after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to move ahead with possibly buying the facility from Orange County.
The decision does not immediately bring the facility under the city’s control. City Manager John Pietig will continue exploring the potential acquisition of the library property at Glenneyre Street and Laguna Avenue, and staff will bring a purchase agreement for council review at a later date.
Staff recommended buying the library, which the county owns and operates, because the city would then have the final say on how the property is used. The site’s parking lot also could help increase the number of available spaces in the downtown area.
Under a 1970 agreement, Laguna Beach deeded a city-owned parcel and abandoned a portion of nearby Park Avenue to provide additional space for a new library building. The county purchased an additional lot from private property owners for the facility, as well.
As part of that agreement, the city reserved the option to purchase the library property at any time within the following 50 years — a window that closes Jan. 20.
County officials said Wednesday that they had not yet received official notice that the city was exercising its right to purchase the property. Once that happens, “the land will be appraised and discussions with the city will ensue related to the continued availability of this important public amenity,” officials wrote in an email.
“For the past 50 years, the county has provided library services to the city of Laguna Beach and is proud to serve the community promoting literacy and the love of reading,” they wrote. “If ownership of the library property is ... transferred to the city, the county looks forward to continuing this partnership, providing local programming and resources consistent with the model we use in other city-owned libraries.”
One example of that is Costa Mesa’s Donald Dungan Library. Costa Mesa owns the building, but OC Public Libraries provides the library services.
Though the overall Laguna library site is composed of four land parcels, the city would have to pay only the fair market value for the one parcel paid for by the county, as well as any improvements.
Those costs will be established following the appraisal.
Councilwoman Toni Iseman asked that the city look into whether the library has any historical relevance or whether there are restrictions on the building that could affect the property’s appraisal.
The city anticipates spending about $20,000 for due-diligence efforts such as commissioning an environmental assessment and a property inspection report.
The library branch itself is about 10,000 square feet, some of which is used as office space by the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Friends of the Laguna Beach Library.
The council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a month-to-month lease agreement for the office space currently used by the chamber. The city will lease that space for $1,484 a month and, in turn, sublease it to the chamber.