City releases Pacific View appraisals

City releases Pacific View appraisals
The city was recently provided with two appraisals of Pacific View, one for $3.29 million and another for $7.28 million. The Encinitas Union School District, the owner of the property, is also assessing the worth of the former school site. Photo by Jared Whitlock

ENCINITAS — Two varying appraisals of the 2.8-acre Pacific View school property were posted on the city’s website last week following City Council direction. 

The first appraisal, from Carlsbad-based James W. Waldorf, came in at $3.29 million. A second appraisal completed by Integra Realty Resources was listed at $7.28 million.

The city asked for appraisals of the site’s market value after it agreed to consider buying Pacific View from EUSD (Encinitas Union School District). In June, each firm was presented with the same guidelines, including taking the location’s current public/semi-public zoning into account.

To determine the value of the site, both appraisers looked at comparable properties that were recently sold.

After receiving the appraisals in closed session, council members were “concerned and curious” about the discrepancy, said City Manager Gus Vina earlier this week. So, the City Council directed Vina to sit down with both appraisers at the same time.

What the gap came down to: Waldorf’s appraisal was lower because it largely looked at inland North County areas when searching for comparable buildings, while Integra cast its net up to Los Angeles. Relatedly, Integra placed more value in ocean views, according to Vina.

“I asked both if they had reason to change their appraisals at the end of the meeting,” Vina said. “And they said ‘no.’”

Vina added that Pacific View is a “rather difficult property to appraise” given its age.

Both appraisals note that the buildings on the property are in poor condition, with significant signs of deferred maintenance. The Waldorf appraisal also mentions that the buildings have termites, and there are reportedly bees in some of the structures’ attic spaces.

The former school, located near the beach on Third Street, between E Street and F Street, shuttered 10 years ago due to declining enrollment. Since then, residents have made the case that it’s the best spot for a community arts center.

At a previous City Council meeting, councilmembers directed Mayor Teresa Barth and Councilman Tony Kranz to join Vina in upcoming school site negotiations with EUSD.

EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird, who had yet to review the city’s appraisals, said the school board would be appointing its own representatives at its next district meeting.

Baird noted that the district has reached out to real estate companies to determine how much the site is worth under several zoning scenarios. This includes gauging the worth of the site if it were rezoned to accommodate residential housing, known as R-15. If rezoned to R-15, he noted the property would become more valuable.

But with the recent passage of Prop A, some residents at a previous City Council meeting argued that a potential rezone request from the district would have to go to a public vote. Because Prop A makes it more difficult to rezone, it limits the district’s ability to negotiate over the purchase price, they maintained.

But Baird said his understanding is that an R-15 rezone request ultimately can’t be denied. That’s because Prop A, a local initiative, is trumped by state government statute. He said the government statute affords school districts the right to develop a property based on the zoning of the surrounding area if the land goes unused.

In any case, Baird said EUSD has a number of options. Notably, there’s a chance the city could purchase the property and keep the zoning as is, he said.

“We really haven’t started negotiations,” Baird said.

He said that the district’s last appraisal of Pacific View was performed about six years ago. However, that $13.5 million appraisal was based on mixed-use zoning. Since mixed-use zoning permits housing and a wider array of uses, it’s worth more than the current public/semi-public zoning.

The current zoning allows for everything from a theater to a medical complex, according to the Waldorf appraisal.

Waldorf drew upon four comparable properties to inform its appraisal: two medical buildings in Oceanside, one in Escondido and another site in Carlsbad.

Integra’s appraisal looked at four properties in Los Angeles, including land for a proposed community center and the site of a school.

It also analyzed land for a community college expansion in San Marcos and a planned sports field in Carlsbad.

Integra’s appraisal cost the city $6,000. Waldorf’s totaled $4,500.

The appraisal figures were previously only known to officials after a closed session meeting.

But Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer made the figures public in an email to a resident because she mistakenly thought a U-T San Diego article listed them. Later, the City Council voted to release the full appraisals.

Baird said there are no current plans for EUSD to release its land evaluations.

Two weeks ago, the city discussed its capacity for financing large investments like Pacific View.

City staff members said the city could borrow up to $3.3 million, but beyond that could risk taking on too much debt. Or the city could look at selling land along Quail Gardens Drive and other places to fund Pacific View.

EUSD and the city will be meeting in closed session this month to discuss the potential sale.

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  1. Robert Sizer says:

    This property is an eyesore & disgrace. I’ve picked up several bags of trash & debris on two separate occasions. It really needs to be dealt with on a weekly basis & the district should take better care of their property. Especially, as they prepare to sell it for top dollar. I wonder if that showed up on the appraisal?

  2. Lynn Marr says:

    Apparently, after the property was no longer being leased, from 2003-2008, it was purposefully allowed to deteriorate, so that the school district might more likely be able to rezone the property. Any appraisal must be based on CURRENT zoning, not “potential” zoning changes.

    “. . . Baird said his understanding is that an R-15 rezone request ultimately can’t be denied. That’s because Prop A, a local initiative, is trumped by state government statute. He said the government statute affords school districts the right to develop a property based on the zoning of the surrounding area if the land goes unused.” The statute is not applicable, and does NOT “trump” our new local law created by passage of Prop A.

    Superintendent Tim Baird’s “understanding” is incorrect. Government code states that the property CAN be (not must be or shall be) rezoned so that it is COMPATIBLE with surrounding properties and CONSISTENT with local General and Specific Plans, which Pacific View’s current public/semi-public zoning is!

    “Waldorf’s appraisal was lower because it largely looked at inland North County areas when searching for comparable buildings, while Integra cast its net up to Los Angeles. Relatedly, Integra placed more value in ocean views, according to Vina.” Encinitas City Manager had ALSO released the appraisal numbers of $3.3 Million and $7.3 Million to Dody Crawford, of DEMA. That should have been mentioned in this article, as well. Secrecy is NOT in the public’s best interests when negotiating publicly owned land between two local agencies.

    Waldorf’s appraisal was more accurate, because it looked at LOCAL comps. According to what community members were told by former EUSD Superintendent Lean King, public/semi-public use would have to include a few PUBLIC offices, and could not be entirely dental and doctors’ offices, or a theater, for example. There would have to be a public component.

    According to the Naylor Act, which is statutory law, as part of Education Code, when the school was originally closed and offered for lease, by December of 2003, EUSD should have offered to the City and County, 30% of the 2.8 Pacific View site, or .852 acre, at 25% of its appraised value, for public OPEN SPACE. That could be the public component. In a previous UT article, Baird indicated that an APPRAISAL had been done in 2003 for $13.5 Million; now he seems to be “backing down” and admitting he only “consulted” with real estate professionals.

    City Councilmembers Tony Kranz, on Kranz’ motion, along with Mayor Teresa Barth and Deputy Mayor LIsa Shaffer, went back on campaign promises for more open government and circumvented a recent “upgrade” to Council policy and protocol to appoint another secret subcommittee, co-chaired by Barth and Kranz, to negotiate with Baird and two Trustees from EUSD at some unspecified future secret meetings. There is a EUSD meeting on 9/10, next Tuesday night, to publicly appoint two trustees as committee members. Council made its appointments of Kranz and Barth, after another secret closed session meeting.

    Council had unanimously voted, on 7/17/13 to require all City subcommittee meetings to be noticed and open to the public unless there is some COMPELLING reason to have a secret meeting, unnoticed, and not open to the public. At the Council meeting on August 28, there was NO FINDING of any compelling reason for secrecy.

    Under the slogan of trust and transparency, our “new” council majority had vowed to enact a sunshine ordinance with higher standards than those already mandated through the Brown Act and the California public records act. That has not been accomplished, although the public has asked for an open government and ethics commission, or for an agenda item to be IMMEDIATELY set with staff recommendations for a sunshine ordinance. Ironically, Councilmembers Kristin Gaspar and Mark Muir opposed Kranz’ motion for another secret subcommittee, which is blatant back tracking on Barth’s and Kranz’ 2010 campaign promises!

    Thankfully, Gaspar and Muir had proposed two substitute motions, the first that the subcommittee should be an open subcommittee, the second that all of council and all of the board of trustees of EUSD would negotiate publicly. Both motions were defeated by self-interested Kranz, Barth and Shaffer, who apparently would rather have more power and control than to keep their campaign promises of trust and transparency.

    The second substitute motion seems like our best option. A future agenda item should be set by Gaspar and Muir, for the benefit of our ENTIRE demographic, which absolutely does support a true community arts and learning center at Pacific View. The future agenda item should ask for reconsideration of allowing ALL of Council and the entire Board of Trustees to sit down at a public meeting to negotiate, BEFORE any negotiations by the secret subcommittee, which should be disbanded. If there were a COMPELLING reason for secrecy, then at least 4 out of 5 council members should have agreed on the motion, NOT by a 3/2 split vote.

    Secrecy allows for insider deals and influence peddling. There is no harm in PUBLIC negotiations; a better price could be achieved through pressure by the public, instead of more short term profit and resume enhancement for fat cat bureaucrats, through backroom deals.

    A public process allows a better balance. EUSD now has an enrollment of approximately 49% of students outside of Encinitas, which was not the case when the property was donated to the school district, in 1883. While Carlsbad children would still be welcome at an Encinitas Community Arts and Learning Center, Encinitas taxpayers should not have to pay an exorbitant price so that certain administrators can privatize public assets, selling them off to developers, for short term profit, which goes outside of our City.

    Our Encinitas general fund does not have to be decimated when what we are negotiating is transferring one publicly owned property, which is comprised of donated land, from one public entity to another! The School District could and should consider again leasing out the property for one dollar per year, as it before did to the City of Encinitas for an interim public works yard, and as the County currently leases the land upon which our library sits, for one dollar per year. The land could be either leased, again, to the City of Encinitas, or to a tax deductible foundation formed through the Artists’ Colony and the Historical Society.

    The foundation could make monthly payments, and “lease to own,” or the City of Encinitas could obtain a LEGITIMATE lease revenue bond, this time with a guaranteed revenue stream, to pay for the debt service. There would be little or no development costs, as the Artists’ colony and other volunteers could refurbish and maintain the existing classrooms for artists’ studios, subleasing some classrooms for charter school use. Envision the View! With this community’s generous, creative spirit, we can make this work!

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