SAN FRANCISCO--()--Counsel for the San Francisco Law Library have filed a motion asking the Superior Court to compel the City to provide adequate housing for the Library, along with a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to block the City of San Francisco from evicting the Library from its current location until a permanent and adequate space is identified.
“The record clearly shows the City of San Francisco understood in 2004 the need for and public benefit from the Library”
The motion for issuance of a writ of mandate details the refusal by city officials to fund 30,000-square-feet of space at 1200 Van Ness Avenue – a site the Library had identified as available. After the Law Library filed its suit, the City has now come forward with a proposed resolution to support rental of 20,000 square feet for the Law Library, but according to papers filed by the Library on Wednesday, the Library requires at least 30,000-35,000 square feet to house the essential collections, facilities and services of a full service county public law library. That amount of space is currently available at 1200 Van Ness.
“The City has abused its discretion in refusing to fund even this bare minimum amount of space,” according to the motion filed by Arnold & Porter, LLP. “The City has also abused its discretion in refusing to pay for the cost of necessary furniture, fixtures and equipment, moving expenses and the like. The Court should issue a writ of mandate to correct these abuses of discretion and allow the Library to move into an appropriate permanent location instead of being closed down through eviction.”
California’s oldest public county law library sued the City and County of San Francisco last month, citing a failure by city officials for nearly 20 years to adequately provide space for the Library as required by the City Charter. The Library is facing eviction by the City from its current location at the Veterans Building. That structure is scheduled to close in May for retrofitting and renovation.
“While we continue to work to find a solution and a consensus with the city that can end this litigation, we nevertheless must take the appropriate legal steps to see that the Library is not displaced and that the public continues to have access to our collection and resources,” said Kurt Melchior, a partner at Nossaman, LLP, and President of the Law Library Board of Directors. “So many of our city officials have gone to law school and worked as lawyers – from our Mayor to numerous members of the Board of Supervisors. The value of our Library should be obvious to the City of San Francisco.”
As court papers filed by the Library note, in 2004 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring that a “full-service law library and justice center facility would promote access to justice by bringing together in one facility the legal resources and services needed by the people of San Francisco to enable them to preserve their rights and adjudicate their claims.”
The Board further stated that the Library is “necessary to serve the people of San Francisco by providing access to local, state and federal legal information resources and services in order that they may preserve their rights and conduct their legal affairs.”
If the Library is successful in its motion for a preliminary injunction, one consequence may be the delay of the retrofit of the Veterans Building. A hearing on both motions is scheduled for April 5, 2013.
“The record clearly shows the City of San Francisco understood in 2004 the need for and public benefit from the Library,” said Mr. Melchior. “That same understanding is lacking today. City officials are on the wrong side of the law and now they are needlessly jeopardizing the rebuild of another city institution – the Veterans Building. We have proposed an adequate solution and a compromise – it’s time for the City to live up to its obligations.”
For more information, visit www.sflawlibrary.org.