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City discusses options for Pacific View site

ENCINITAS — Councilmembers invited residents to come up with business plans for a community arts center at Wednesday night’s meeting. But the proposals won’t necessarily be tailored specifically to the Pacific View property. 

Roughly 20 residents at the meeting urged the city to buy the property from the Encinitas Union School District. They argued, as many in the community have for years, that it’s the ideal spot for an arts center.

Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer said the city is currently negotiating over the purchase price with the district. In the meantime, she encouraged residents to look at ways to fund an arts center — even if it’s not at Pacific View.

“(Proposals) could inform plans for Pacific View if we’re successful at the real estate negotiations,” Shaffer said.

“Or it could lead to action in some other location if Pacific View doesn’t happen,” she added. “But I don’t see any reason to wait to have that discussion, we have a lot of interest.”

With a unanimous vote, councilmembers directed the Cultural Tourism Marketing Committee to work with the community on developing business plans for an arts center. The proposals could include partnerships with nonprofits or businesses.

The committee will come back to the City Council with proposals at an undetermined date.

The city recently obtained two independent appraisals of Pacific View, one for $7.3 million and another for $3.3 million. Several residents mentioned the appraisal figures during the meeting.

The figures were previously known only to city officials following a closed session meeting.

Shaffer made the appraisal figures public in an email to a resident because she mistakenly thought a U-T San Diego article had already listed them. During the meeting, she apologized for the mix up.

EUSD expects to get its own appraisal soon.

Several weeks ago, EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird said that Pacific View could be worth up to $13.5 million — the appraisal amount when the school shuttered in 2003, according to a U-T San Diego article.

Resident Sheila Cameron said she was “shocked” to read the $13.5 million figure in the article.

This fall, the nonprofit Art Pulse offered $7.5 million for Pacific View.

Given that voters have approved various education bonds, Cameron said the district shouldn’t be so greedy.

“I think it’s time that the school district thought about what they can do for us,” Cameron said.

Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar also noted she was disappointed by the $13.5 million figure.

“It seemed like an opportunity we had was being taken away,” Gaspar said.

Gaspar said that even if the city buys Pacific View, it would still have to pay to update the dilapidated property’s infrastructure.

And she added that dedicating money to Pacific View means less money for other infrastructure projects.

Earlier in the meeting, the City Council heard a report on its financial capacity for large investments like Pacific View.

For this fiscal year, city revenues total $56.2 million, while expenditures are $51.4 million, according to Finance Director Tim Nash.

Over the next six years, it’s estimated the city will have $5 million in its unappropriated fund that could go toward Pacific View or other projects.

Nash noted the Moonlight Beach lifeguard tower, Beacons Beach improvements and sidewalk upgrades are also high on the city’s list of priorities.

Some residents said the city could fund a community arts center at Pacific View by renting out some of the space to vendors. Dominic Alcorn said a café or coffee cart could generate revenue for the city.

Ron Ranson said the focus should be on artists, not commercial ventures. He argued that, under no circumstances, should housing be built on the property.

“We need a more creative society,” Ranson said, adding that it’s “a golden time for Encinitas to come up with something unique.”


Lynn Marr August 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm

According to what was said during public testimony by Felix Tinkov, who provided his name and his office, as an Attorney, representing another public speaker, Don McPheron, who owns property adjacent to PV, one public entity CAN use eminent domain proceedings against another.

According to Mr. Tinkov, who unlike City Attorney Glenn Sabine, specializes in Real Property Law, (verified by his California Bar webpage) the City would simply have to demonstrate that its proposed use would be a more beneficial use to the public, than the current use of the 2.8 acres that constitute Pacific View by EUSD.

The current EUSD utilization of PV has been to allow the property to deteriorate, without being maintained. So Tinkov said although it would require attention to detail, the process of eminent domain by one public entity against another would only require the City’s being aware of and following the rules.

The City has not shied away from initiating lawsuits, in the past. This one, for eminent domain, with two existing independent appraisals and a legitimate plan, through Envision the View, using volunteers to refurbish the existing classrooms, should be a “slam dunk.”

Solana Beach used the process of eminent domain to take a surplus school site for public benefit. The City of Encinitas should get up the gumption and assertiveness to do the same.

Glenn Sabine continues to give terrible advice about Government Code, including the Code by which EUSD before incorrectly sued the City, through Superintendent Tim Baird. Sabine was waffling last Wednesday night. If he read the actual code, itself, he would see that even without the existence of Prop A, the City is only required to rezone if the current zoning is not COMPATIBLE with the zoning in the surrounding area.

The only place those sections of Govt. Code talks about SHALL is when a school district has offered the surplus school site for sale according to the terms of Education Code, including the terms of the Naylor Act, when the property is INITIALLY offered for lease or sale (leased to the City in 2003), and the public entity (the City) has declined to purchase, then the city cannot REZONE the land to open space or park; instead, the zoning SHALL be consistent with that of adjacent properties.

The City is not trying to rezone to open space or park. Public/semi public zoning is compatible, and allows for 30% of the land, or .85 acre to be offered to the city at 25% of its appraised value, for open space, through the Naylor Act. EUSD never did its homework and complied with the Education Code by offering a discount for a PORTION of the land at 25 cents on the dollar, because PV had been used, in part, for playing fields for eight years preceding 2003.

Only the ENTIRE PV parcel was offered, at one point, under Superintendent Lean King, just before he retired, to the City at $10 Million. The district was MANDATED to offer 30% of it at its appraised value (Baird insists an appraisal was done in 2003, according to the July 28 UT article). An appraisal was done, the closed down school property was offered for lease; the City, at taxpayer expense, paved over the playing fields, without the school district first fulfilling the mandates of the Naylor Act, part of California Education Code.

Sabine is just seeing what he wants to see and seems entirely unwilling or incapable of understanding the letter of the law or the intent of the State Legislature. He’s just trying to figure out what the consensus of Council, as directed by City Manager Gus Vina, wants to hear, and tailor his remarks and answers to Council to fit that, without citing the actual text of the relevant code. There is NO QUESTION of any allegedly “looming lawsuit.” Any lawsuit is now MOOT!

Encinitas Guy August 24, 2013 at 7:35 am

The city would have a lot more flexibility in situations like this if it got its expenses and pensions under control.

Why hasn’t the council directed City Manager Gus Vina to find places to cut costs? Why did they approve his expensive new “cabinet” of department heads? Why won’t Mayor Barth even discuss pensions?

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