The photo above shows the 2,400-square-foot Banning Branch Library, which began life in 1962 at 22171 Bushard Ave. as the tract office for the housing developments being built all around it. Several of those tracts, including Newport West, featured some Polynesian-themed roof lines and street names, and the tract office was built to echo that theme.
"It's beach party time at Newport West" one of developer's lackeys told the L.A. Times in 1966. "Residents here are one block from the ocean and the popular entertainment of the season is an early evening beach party." The article went on to describe the tract homes exteriors, which "range from island modern to beach contemporary." Another article described some of the styles as "Tahitian, contemporary modern, and California conventional."
|Illustration of a "Tahitian"-style home in Dutch Haven's Newport West tract from a 1963 newspaper ad.|
In 2007, the City hired an architectural firm to draw up plans for a new 12,500 square-foot building to replace the current one. Then the economy stalled off that plan indefinitely.
Now the library is being used as part of a larger game of political blackmail. This coming election day, "Measure Z" will appear on the ballots of Huntington Beach residents. If passed, this measure will remove a property tax that currently helps pay for city worker's pensions. Those campaigning against Measure Z, including some city leaders, say they will be forced to cut a number of basic community services if Measure Z passes -- And the Banning Branch Library is on the short list.
On one hand, I recognize this is the same kind of reprehensible blackmail that Jerry "No-you're-no-hallucinating-I-really-am-governor-again" Brown is foisting on us this year: "Give me what I want or I will make sure that all budget cuts come from the programs you most love." On the other hand, Measure Z would indeed force the city to find the money for pensions elsewhere. And considering that at least a couple of our councilmembers probably pronounce the word, "li-barry," it wouldn't be surprising to see our libraries clobbered. Already, the city has forced the reduction of library hours.