ENCINITAS — Opponents and supporters of the Encinitas Union School Board’s Proposition P have been vying for the attention of voters to clear the air over the facts of what the $44 million funds would pay for.
Some of the confusion surrounds the new community garden that will be installed on school-owned property along Quail Gardens Drive. Home Town Farms, a company that uses high technology vertical urban farming methods is in negotiations to lease approximately one to two acres of the land. In turn, the company will lease part of the site to the Encinitas Community Garden, a nonprofit that hopes to begin operations next year.
According to Sanford Shapiro, a local resident, the gardening by these two groups has been linked without any basis in fact to funds from the proposed school bond. “The gardening is not connected with nor dependent in any way on Proposition P,” he told the City Council on Oct. 13.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Baird suggested that misinformation was being spread about the community garden and the bond to sway voters from supporting the measure.
“EUSD has already publicly stated that no money will be used from Proposition P to support any components of farming or gardening,” Baird wrote in an e-mail to Gordon Smith, president of the Encinitas Community Garden board of directors. “Our arrangement with Home Town Farms and their arrangement with the Community Garden are completely separate from the Science Exploration and Design Center that we are putting on the Quail Garden property.”
Both Baird and Shapiro specifically named Mike Andreen as an opponent who has skewed the relationship between the garden leased from the school district and the use of funds from the bond. Andreen “has purposely misstated these facts to attack Proposition P,” Baird said in his e-mail.
Shapiro told the council the group was especially concerned about statements by Andreen and school board trustee Maureen Muir published in the Registrar of Voters information pamphlet. Muir states that she does not support the measure in part because “one of the most concerning items is $6.7 million to create a food garden and farming studies.”
“This is absolutely incorrect,” Shapiro said. He emphasized that the community garden will operate at no cost to the district or to the city, but will be funded entirely by grants, fundraisers and user fees.
Andreen said he had no knowledge of the plans to create a community garden on the site. He said he therefore did not mislead anyone. He said a community garden is a great idea, but he questioned the placement of the garden on the site because of specific land use requirements.
“At no time will EUSD pay for or have any costs connected with the project,” Shapiro said.
Muir did not respond to a request for comment.