Measure B Frequently Asked Questions

Please read the following Q&A about Measure B. If you have additional questions, please visit the Measure B webpage or contact Assistant City Manager Karen Pinkos at 510-215-4302. For a printable, PDF version of these FAQ, click here.

Q: What language will appear on the ballot?

A: In addition to selecting candidates for a number of offices, there are also a number of statewide and local measures on the November ballot. Local measures such as Measure B will appear near the end of the ballot for El Cerrito residents:

City of El Cerrito 2016 Measure B Ballot Language:
To replace the 67 year old El Cerrito Library with a safe, energy efficient, 21st century library that meets earthquake and fire codes with space for a children's area for story times/books; public access computers/ computer learning center; up-to-date book/resource collections; and improved senior/disabled access, shall El Cerrito issue $30,000,000 in bonds at legal rates for 33 years, as the Voter Guide describes, requiring independent citizen oversight, and all funds for El Cerrito Library? YES

Q: What are the demands on our Library


A: The current Library located on Stockton Avenue was built in 1948, and does not meet the earthquake safety standards or energy-efficiency standards of libraries built today. When school gets out, the Library is packed with school children and simply too small for what our community needs. Between 2006 and 2015, Library visits have increased 26% and circulation is up over 27%.

Q: Why was Measure B placed on the ballot?

A: For years, the City has been working with the community to evaluate El Cerrito’s Library service priorities and potential funding of a safe, modern library. In 2016, over 2,000 community members provided their feedback about their priorities for our Library, including an energy-efficient library that meets earthquake and fire codes, and updated wiring to accommodate computers and technology. To address community priorities for an up-to-date, 21st century library, the El Cerrito City Council placed Measure B on the November ballot to fund an earthquake-safe library that meets our community’s needs, for years to come.

Q: How can Measure B meet community needs?

A: A safe, modern library that meets the community’s educational and informational needs will provide public access computers, a computer learning center, and free Wi-Fi as well as a children’s area with space for story times and improved access for seniors and disabled residents. Library programs for children and teens, including homework help and reading resources, are critical to providing our students with the resources they need. According to standard library best practices, the current Library does not meet the space, technological, educational, or safety needs of El Cerrito residents.

Q: How can voters be sure Measure B funds will be spent as promised?

A: Measure B includes strict fiscal accountability provisions including independent citizen oversight, mandatory financial audits, and yearly reports to the community to ensure all funds are spent as promised. No Measure B funding can be used for City administrator salaries. Measure B requires that all funds be spent locally and, by law, cannot be taken by the State.

Q: Is Measure B a bond?

A: Yes. If enacted by the voters, Measure B allows the City to finance up to $30 million in general obligation bonds for a seismically-safe, energy efficient library that meets 21st century community needs. Principal and interest on the bonds would be paid for by taxes levied on taxable real property in El Cerrito. More information can be found in the tax rate statement that is included in the County’s official Voter Guide.

Q: Will the Library be re-built in the same location?

A: Unfortunately, no. The current location on Stockton Avenue is too small to expand the Library. The City has evaluated a number of other sites, near civic and/or commercial amenities. In March 2016, the City Council had unanimously agreed that the preferred location was on a portion of the lower parcel of the former Portola Middle School site on Moeser Lane. This site had been discussed with the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) for many years as a potential site for a new Library, however, the WCCUSD has not been open to considering the City’s request for joint use of the site at this time. The City is currently evaluating a number of other sites in order to procure the most cost effective and practical location for the new Library. In order not to jeopardize the City’s negotiating position, potential private sites are not being disclosed at this time.

Q: What size Library is being considered?

A: The 2014 Space Needs Assessment Update determined that a library facility adequate to serve the El Cerrito community should be about 21,000 square feet. The current building is only 6,500 square feet. The Library is adjacent to Fairmont Elementary School and the City’s Senior Center. The Senior Center building sits on land owned by WCCUSD and leased to the City. There is not enough space to accommodate a larger library facility on the current and adjacent sites on Stockton Avenue due to the space needs of Fairmont Elementary.

Q: Why $30 million and 33 years?

A: The City will only finance the amount of money necessary for the new Library. $30 million is an estimate based on projected costs including land acquisition, site preparation, design, permits, environmental compliance and construction. The actual Library may be considerably less depending on the ultimate design and location.

The cost models developed for the El Cerrito Library Site Feasibility Study by the City's consultants, Group4 Architects and Swinerton Builders, are based on a cost per square foot (cost/square foot) for each component of the project based on January 2016 dollars. The square foot cost is based on current costs of similar building types and components. Cost estimates include "hard costs" such as projected building construction, projected site construction, technology, Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E), and contingencies; and "soft costs" including projected California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) land entitlements and development costs, planning, architecture and engineering fees, construction management fees, and testing, inspections and permit fees. These costs compare favorably with similar projects in other cities when looking at all costs in current-year construction dollars, and for new buildings that are not simply construction or renovation of an existing space. Click here for a report from the City's consultants on the how the cost estimates were developed, and click here for the presentation to the City Council in March 2016 with the results of the Site Feasibility Study.

In order to save money, the City’s financial experts assumed two separate financings, each of thirty years rather than borrowing all of the money at once and beginning to pay interest on the whole amount immediately. The result would be a total repayment period of 33 years.

For more information, please visit the Measure B webpage