Several years ago Linda Peterson put up a bench, and then a small lending library on the parkway outside her house on Westgate Avenue. They are part and parcel of the Brentwood community and Peterson said, “On any given day you will see a nanny with her charges in tow looking through the library, an older walker who just wants a rest, a housekeeper having her lunch outside, a father and son having a serious conversation, and the list goes on.”

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However, shortly before the December holidays, Peterson was surprised to find City violation notices pinned to both the bench and the library, requiring that she remove them.

Peterson said she didn’t understand why she had received the violation notices, saying, “Neither the bench nor the library extend into the street or sidewalk and there is plenty of space around them to exit a car.”

In a letter to the City, Peterson wrote, “In fact, there are far more obstacles to easy access that I could point out up and down the street. If I happen to come out while someone is using the library or bench, I am usually asked if I am responsible for doing this and then thanked profusely for my community spirit.”

The bench, Peterson told Brentwood News, came first. “I had a mastiff-sharpei mix named Timid who loved to watch the neighborhood go by while stretched out on the grass in front of the tree. After he passed, I talked with my landscape architect, Pam Palmer about a bench in honor of Timid. The bench became an immediate favorite. Then I read an article about the Little Lending Libraries in the Wall Street Journal. It seemed like a wonderful way to promote literacy and community. I ordered the basic kit and my friend, the artist, Laurie Raskin, collaged the library with a California car culture theme. I also had my electrician put a light in above the bench so the library and bench would be usable in the evening. The library has been self-sustaining (i.e. most of the books come from users other than me) since shortly after it went up.”

However, despite the violation notices, there may be a reprieve for Peterson. After speaking with a representative from Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office, she has been told to file for a permit for the bench and the library. Hopefully the permit will be granted and this story will have a happy ending.


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