Encinitas Union School District has announced it’s going to sue the City of Encinitas over the historic Pacific View school property.
Remember last November, when we passed Proposition P to allow EUSD to borrow $44 million and extend our tax rates another 30 years in order to upgrade their school’s computers and technology and renovate outdated classrooms and facilities? 65 percent of our community voted to pass Prop. P.
It is expected to cost about $150 million over the next 30 years. Now, in addition to our overwhelming support of that $44 million bond measure, we could end up paying the litigation fees for both EUSD and the City of Encinitas.
Citizens from all parts of Encinitas should take note, because this will set a precedent for how we deal with “surplus” school property going forward and “any” historic property near and dear to you!
We should know the special history of the PV school site. Most of the property was gifted to our community in 1883 by one of the town’s founders, J. Pitcher. The remainder of the property was meticulously deeded down through several generations until it was finally deeded to EUSD in 1964. There was a lot of land available in Encinitas in 1883. Mr. Pitcher was particular about this special site on top of the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was for the community. He did not give cash.
While watching EUSD staff members leave two city council meetings frustrated that the city did not go along with their plans, it’s hard to put your finger on why there is such disconnect.
Sure it is about the money, always is. But there is something more. The Heart.
Superintendents are hired to educate our children and manage capital assets. The Pacific View school site has to do with this and something else: The heart and history of a community. We have expected our superintendents to understand this.
All of them have missed the mark.
Over the past 8 years three Superintendents have come into our community and spent hundreds of thousands of “our tax dollars” in a single-minded effort to dispose of the PV property… through development, exchange, up zone or sale.
Monies generated from the sale of the PV school site would go into the EUSD general fund and soon be spent. Lost forever would be this 128 year-old gift made by one of our town founders. This is shortsighted and does not make good business sense.
This past year, EUSD rejected DEMA’s proposal to lease the PV property as a cultural arts center for $100,000 a year with an increased lease payment in future years. Any genuine lease arrangement pursued by EUSD would have resulted in lease income far in excess of the $1 per year that was agreed to with the city. Not to mention the possibility of “tenant paid” improvements that might have been part of a “fair market value” lease.
Instead the property has been allowed to fall into disrepair. Homeowners know this is the quickest way to devalue a property. A genuine effort to lease PV could have been (and could still be) a significant income source while EUSD, the City of Encinitas and the Community work together towards a permanent solution.
When Superintendent Baird says: “We are now forced to take this step” (litigation), it is another of many missed opportunities to negotiate in partnership with the City and Community of Encinitas to save this important and historical site.
So, in the middle of our busy lives, let’s stop to remember the history of the town “we call home.” Remember, it was a group of concerned citizens that formed the Encinitas Preservation Association in order to purchase and protect the Boat Houses. Remember Ruth Larabee who donated her 26.5 acres in Encinitas to be preserved as a public park.
Thanks to her vision and generosity we enjoy San Diego Botanic Garden in our own back yard. Remember the group of concerned citizens that gathered in May 1965 to answer the question: “What are we, the community, going to do with the Olivenhain Hall and property?” Remember Mr. Pitcher in 1883. He deeded land on the bluff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the community of Encinitas.
The first step is for community residents to contact their elected officials both at EUSD and the City of Encinitas. If we don’t act now, we will lose this magnificent gift from our town founder, forever!
Sarah Garfield & Bill Sparks
For the “Envision the View Coalition”
Filed Under: Community Commentary