New Santa Clara Library Built, Stuck in Legal Limbo

The 15,000-square-foot library in the new Rivermark neighborhood is caught between the city and county of Santa Clara.

By Kimberly Tere
|  Friday, Aug 16, 2013  |  Updated 7:08 PM PDT
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NBC Bay Area's Kimberly Tere looks into why a brand new, $11 million library may never open in Santa Clara.

NBC Bay Area's Kimberly Tere looks into why a brand new, $11 million library may never open in Santa Clara.

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A brand new library is 99-percent complete in the city of Santa Clara, but thanks to a funding fight it may never open.

The fight had a few new voices Friday as dozens of agry Santa Clara residents, some of them children, protested outside the Santa Clara City Council Chambers.

"This library has been a long awaited dream of the north of Bayshore residents. This is a library that is going to impact education. It is going to impact economic revenue. It’s going to impact the desirability to live in the north of Bayshore area," library trustee Kathy Watanabe said.

The protest was held outside the Oversight Board for the Successor Agency meeting. That is the group that used to be called the redevelopment agency.

Despite the outcry from protesters, the board told them the issue is out of their hands.  Members said the money spent to build the library wasn't the city's to spend.

Construction crews packed up and moved on, leaving the building incomplete and unoccupied.

Here's the problem: Santa Clara County said the city is spending redevelopment money on the library when, under state law, that money should go to schools and special districts.

The city set aside more than $19 million for the library. $11 million has been spent.

The county won a court order freezing the city's redevelopment assets, the library included.

Santa Clara's planned Northside Library was to open in December. If you walked to the front door today, you might ask why it isn't open right now. Even the shrubs are in place outside, and the parking lot spaces are painted.

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