Updated: EUSD asking at least $9.5 million for Pacific View

Updated: EUSD asking at least $9.5 million for Pacific View
The Encinitas Union School District won’t accept bids of less than $9.5 million during a March 25 public auction of the Pacific View property. The city expressed disappointment in the district going to an auction, but stated it might submit another offer for the property. File photo

The City Council said it’s still interested in the property

ENCINITAS — EUSD (Encinitas Union School District) is asking potential buyers of Pacific View to plunk down no less than $9.5 million — more than double what the city recently offered the district for the property.

The EUSD board of trustees voted 4-1 on Tuesday night on parameters for Pacific View’s public auction, set for March 25.

Two weeks ago, after declining a $4.3 million offer from the city to purchase Pacific View, EUSD officials decided to pursue an auction.

Board President Marla Strich said at Tuesday night’s meeting that it’s understandable the city didn’t want to overextend itself financially. She went on to say EUSD believes the property is worth much more than $4.3 million, and accepting the highest possible offer on the property will improve the district’s fiscal health.

“We do have a fiduciary duty to the children of this district to maximize our assets,” Strich said.

The city entered into negotiations with EUSD this past fall with the intent of buying and converting the property into a community arts center. Yet, the district stated it would entertain bids calling for houses to be built on the property.

Over the past 10 years, Strich said that the district has repeatedly tried to advance proposals for Pacific View that benefited the district and the city — only to be stymied.

The most recent failed deal: the nonprofit Art Pulse wanted to build a community arts center and homes on the property in 2012, but the $7.5 million proposal didn’t meet a key deadline.

Currently, proceeds from the sale of Pacific View could be injected into the district’s general fund, EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird said. However, he added the law allowing that accounting practice could expire as early as 2016.

“There is a timeline,” Baird said. “And so for the district to again delay in terms of moving forward, you could jeopardize your ability to best utilize the proceeds from this asset to support the needs of all of the students in your school district.”

Money from Pacific View could also be applied to capital improvement projects.

Encinitas Councilman Tony Kranz, one of two public speakers at Tuesday’s meeting, who said he’s representing himself and not the rest of the council, said the property should remain public land due to its historic nature. He noted the city’s oldest building, the 1883 schoolhouse, sits on the site.

“It’s the legacy of our community,” Kranz said.

The 2.8-acre site on Third Street in downtown Encinitas also hosts a school that was built in the 1950s and closed in 2003.

The auction terms specify that bidders will be required to preserve the 1883 schoolhouse.

But Trustee Maureen Muir, who voted against the auction, said the entire property, not just the 1883 schoolhouse, is part of the city’s history.

“I don’t agree with this direction at all,” Muir said.

With Tuesday’s vote, EUSD is now accepting sealed bids for Pacific View until March 24. On March 25, the district will open the bids and hold a live auction.

At Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, council members expressed disappointment over EUSD putting the site up for auction. But they said they’re still interested in the property and agreed to explore putting together another offer in February.

The city based its $4.3 million bid on two recent, independent appraisals of the site, one for $3.3 million and the other for $7.3 million. Those appraisals took the land’s current public/semi-public zoning into account.

But EUSD believes the state’s education code gives the district the right to have the land rezoned for private homes, increasing the value of the property. Baird noted EUSD received a $13.5 million appraisal in 2007 for the site under mixed-use zoning.

Potential buyers can bid on the property’s “as is” zoning, or factor in the possibility of it being rezoned for homes. Regardless, bids won’t be looked at if less than $9.5 million.

However, Proposition A, the growth-control initiative that passed this summer, could pose a roadblock for plans to build homes there. The initiative requires that rezone requests go to a public vote, yet there’s uncertainty over whether Prop A is applicable to Pacific View.

When asked how a judge would rule, Glenn Sabine, the city’s attorney, said at Wednesday’s meeting that he’d rather advise the council on the matter in private.

“That’s something I’d want to advise you under attorney-client privilege,” Sabine said. “I wouldn’t want to compromise the city’s position with any comments I might make on the dais.”

Sabine added that the debate centers on whether Prop A or the state’s education code governs the property.

Several public speakers urged the City Council to begin eminent domain proceedings to take the property.

The city asked Linda Bartz, an attorney specializing in eminent domain, to provide a report on the topic.

To move forward with eminent domain, the city must show it has designed a viable public project for the land. And the city must complete the necessary environmental documents. The city has fulfilled neither of those requirements, along with others. Completing them in time would be difficult, according to Bartz.

This story has been updated to reflect the actions of the City Council on Wednesday night.

 

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  1. bing says:

    The money goes into the general fund and will be used for capital improvements? Seems to me very little will see it’s way into improving our children’s education. It will let developers off the hook. They create the density that has us over the fiscal barrel to begin with, then sell school assets to offset it. Sitting on derelict property of high value isn’t the reason for funding problems…why don’t you address the problem rather than take the easy route?
    Heaven forbid the board invest in art for our children and community and kids…to busy beingparanoid Chinese kids outscoring us on standardized tests.

  2. Lynn Marr says:

    The “deadline” Baird is talking about re a “one time injection into the General Fund,” being in 2016, is simply when the bill would come up for renewal. It may NOT be renewed, because of Prop 30, but who knows? Remember we are paying $25 extra per $100K of assessed value of our homes for EUSD School Bonds O and P, EACH, in addition to “built in tax assessments, on the base value.

    Encinitas citizens most recently went above and beyond in supporting our school children by passing P in 2010, passing Prop 30 in 2012, when we also passed the San Dieguito High School District School Bond for another $25 per $100K of assessed valuation. So for someone paying property taxes on an assessed valuation of only $300,000, which is low, for Encinitas, we are already paying an additional $225 in School Bond Taxes and hundreds more in additional sales taxes.

    Moreover, for ANY money to go into the General Fund for EUSD, even if the (artificial) deadline WERE to be met, would require a finding by the State Allocation Board that absolutely no more money is needed for facilities improvement (interpreted to include I-Pads and associated technology; I-Pads have a life expectancy of about five years, max) for TEN YEARS! That is not going to happen. This artificial “deadline” is a mere pretense, more pressure from Baird, who acts like a high pressure salesman trying to “close the deal” he wants to strike with developers, to privatize donated land that should remain in the public domain for a true arts and learning center, rehabilitating and maintaining existing classrooms with the help of volunteers.

    There is no inconsistency between our local law and State Law, in this case, by which Education Code or Government Code could or would “overrule” local law, as wrongly alleged by Superintendent Tim Baird. Of course Encinitas City Attorney Glenn Sabine doesn’t want to publicly admit how he was absolutely wrong in his so-called impartial analysis re Prop A, published at our expense, in the Sample Voters Ballots. Sabine’s analysis was NOT factual, and was therefore not impartial by Election Code definition; lower set height limits were NOT raised by the right to vote on upzoning initiative. The City was not bifurcated between the Coastal Zone and the land outside the Coastal Zone, because no Coastal Commission review was required of the initiative, after it was passed, before it became effective CITYWIDE.

    For any rezoning of the surplus school site to occur, that would have to be approved by the Planning Commission, Encinitas City Council, and the Coastal Commission, if anyone appeals, which we would. Importantly, even with full approval of the City, the citizens would have a right to vote on upzoning. Otherwise the zoning request would not be consistent with our General Plan, our Downtown Specific Plan, and our updated Encinitas Municipal Code, as required by California Government Code.

    Baird did the same thing, in Ojai, where he tried to prevent that community, in partnership with the City, and with the help of student and parent volunteers, from building a skatepark on a surplus schoolsite, there. Baird wanted, instead, in conjunction with developer “associates” to rezone that property in order to build a strip mall styled development, against the wishes of the Community volunteers and the City in Ojai.

    Fortunately for the community of Ojai, Baird was recurited from OUSD to EUSD in 2009, most likely because of his pro-development tendencies. When he left, the Ojai community skatepark was built! Baird’s leaving Ojai was good for them, bad for Encinitas. Baird came here, allegedly at a $65,000 per year raise, making over $200,000, when teachers were being laid off. His being our EUSD superintendent is especially detrimental because our EUSD Board of Trustees, with the exception of Maureen Muir, are so easily led.

    Apparently they can’t understand our desire to preserve an irreplaceable, historical community asset in the public domain. They’ve got developer dollar signs in their eyes, and can’t seem to locate their hearts. Maureen Muir was forced to recuse herself for most of the closed sessions held, illegally, according to the Brown Act, as they were improperly conducted by Baird and the Trustees. Forcing Mo to recuse herself was Baird’s method of stifling dissent and disenfranchising those of us who voted for her because of platform on Saving Pacific View!

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