After reading Dr. Baird’s clarifying points regarding the EUSD District’s position on the Pacific View site, I felt it necessary to respond in order to clear up some misconceptions regarding the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association’s (DEMA’s) proposal to lease the property.
We had proposed that the District work collaboratively with DEMA to create an innovative arts, science and nutrition center that would mutually benefit the community, its children and the District. We had general income amounts based on past experience with the 101 Artists’ Colony, which was run successfully for several years, and our own experience with events and fundraising. At no time did the District indicate how much they were hoping to accumulate in lease payments, just that they did not believe DEMA capable of generating the money we knew we could.
Please let me clarify some things:
The original school buildings were inspected by a team DEMA brought together, including a developer, property manager, architect and others. The original school buildings are in remarkably good shape. Plumbing and electrical were in working order. There was no asbestos, mold or significant damage to the building’s interior. Otherwise, how could the city’s Public Works Department have occupied it from 2003-2008? There are, however, some portable classrooms that are uninhabitable and they are probably what Dr. Baird refers to as the liability risk.
DEMA let the District know that it had plans for a Farmers’ Market already in the works. Whether or not we ran it on the property, we were prepared to share the majority of the profits with the District.
DEMA’s proposal never included the sale of artwork nor did it depend solely on the lease of artist space. Our annual income sources included the Pacific View Cultural Center Operations, Downtown Farmers’ Market, “School’s Out” Festival or event, fundraising, membership and sponsorship. We projected income to be around $390,000, with $200,000 going to initial lease payments annually. Payments to the District would grow as the Center generated more income.
The District wanted a guarantor. I believe the city would have obliged, given DEMA’s reputation, but with the threat of a lawsuit aimed at the city by the District, it is no wonder they declined to underwrite the venture.
Respect for the history of Encinitas acknowledges that in 1883, before there even was a school district, a portion of the site was donated to the area’s citizens for a school. I doubt that the donor would have made the gift if he knew that somewhere down the road, it would be sold off to developers for the highest bid.
When the District offered the property to the city, they made a disingenuous offer to sell it to them at $10 million. This was without an accurate appraisal on the table. And again, at this point, how can the city work with a party who is suing them?
Yes, our children deserve the best education the community can provide them. That education does not need to come only from government schools.
With cuts in arts education at public schools, the site could provide classes, lectures, lessons, exhibits, and other events and opportunities to fill those needs.
The proposed Center could be an innovative place for children and adults to enrich their lives with so much more than offered at regular institutions.
The income from the sale of Pacific View cannot help ward off teacher lay-offs as Dr. Baird suggests. Education Code 17462 states “the proceeds from the sale of district property must be used for capital outlay purposes or maintenance of district property.” This language excludes the ability to use funds for general fund purposes.
Finally, the truth is that the District could be realizing income from the property right now. The property would be cared for instead left to deteriorate in full view of surrounding neighbors. The community and its children would have more options for creative learning. Our heritage would be preserved. And the District would be a community partner rather than an adversary.
I hope this addresses some of Dr. Baird’s clarifying points on this issue.
Filed Under: Community Commentary