Berkeley reaches partial settlement with library critics

Interior of the Claremont branch library.

Berkeley and a group called Concerned Library Users have reached a partial settlement of a lawsuit that threatened to delay the reconstruction of the city’s branch libraries.

The City Council voted Monday evening to accept a legal settlement that requires it to repeal an ordinance passed in July. That measure permitted the city’s branch libraries to obtain a use permit, rather than a variance, when remodeling or reconstructing one of the four branch libraries.

Concerned Library Users had argued that the city should have done an environmental impact report before passing the ordinance since it had the effect of allowing Berkeley to tear down and rebuild the south and west branches.

The city agreed to the settlement since it is already planning to do an EIR.


“Environmental review … will be beneficial because it will analyze the potential environmental effects and alternatives to an ordinance that would allow demolition of a city library on the basis of a use permit rather than a variance,” reads a section of the settlement agreement.

The city council on Tuesday had the first reading of a new measure that will repeal the July ordinance. City officials plan to reintroduce the measure only requiring a use permit after Berkeley does the EIR on the branch demolitions.

The settlement also requires Berkeley to pay $9,000 in attorney’s fees to Concerned Library Users.

Concerned Library Users have agreed not to challenge the use permit for the remodeling of the Claremont and North branches, which is expected to begin in the spring of 2011. The group is still suing Berkeley to prevent it from using Measure FF Library bond funds to tear down the South and West branches.