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Community Community Encinitas

City taps coalition for Pacific View site

ENCINITAS — A preliminary proposal for an arts, culture and ecology center at the Pacific View elementary site from a conglomerate of local movers, shakers, singers and surfers — and everything in between — received an enthusiastic thumbs up from the Encinitas City Council.

The City Council voted 5-0 to select the proposal from the group that calls itself the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance over another proposal that called for an outdoor commercial, dining and entertainment venue on the former elementary school campus.

“This site was purchased to be a home for our local arts community…and it is thrilling that all of the different groups … got together to create one cohesive plan,” Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “I can’t believe that it happened.”

The membership rolls of the EACEA, spearheaded by famed local surf researcher and author Garth Murphy, read like a who’s who of local Encinitas leadership, and many showed up at Wednesday’s meeting to speak in support of the proposal, which calls for a multi-faceted arts center that also includes cultural arts and ecological exhibits and activities.

Among those supporting the project were the members of the Grammy-award winning rock band Switchfoot and surfing legend Rob Machado, who each spoke at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I thought this was great opportunity to be involved,” said Machado, who is from Cardiff-by-the-Sea. “I have been involved for quite some time putting on events to help the beaches and preserve what a beautiful place we have, and I see this as an expansion of what we all have been doing.”

Murphy urged the council to select the alliance over another proposal by Radlab Designs and Sequoian Investments, which unlike the alliance’s proposal also included a $2.875 million letter of intent from the investment company.

“We don’t think it needs bars, restaurants and retail, we think it needs art, because art builds character, character is what makes leadership and leadership is what keeps the world afloat,” Murphy said.

Several residents expressed concerns about the plans presented Wednesday for the property, because many of them are incompatible with the property’s current zoning, which is for public and semi-public use. Uses such as retail would require the property to be rezoned and a local election.

But the council said that by selecting the Alliance, it allows them time to fine-tune their proposal before the council enters into a formal contract.

“So what I think we need to do is give them the opportunity to present their full proposal,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said. “We are not ready sign a lease until we have done our due diligence.

“This feels greats… but we still need to know you won’t become a liability to the city,” Shaffer said. “I have great confidence you will be successful.”

A companion report reviewed Wednesday by the City Council from the engineer tapped to study the site estimates that it would cost between $3 million and $4 million to bring the site, which has been shuttered since 2003, up to code.


bill bruns September 27, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Hi Aaron,
I enjoyed reading your story (reached via Catherine’s newsletter–she’s the granddaughter of longtime friends in Cardiff, Dorothea and Milt Smith). I grew up in Encinitas, attended the elementary school over by Moonlight Beach, and then a school along the railroad tracks in Leucadia. Your article didn’t provide an address, but I believe this is Pacific View? We then moved to Cardiff and I attended San Dieguito, and I wrote about our school sports for your predecessor, the Encinitas Coast Dispatch. My mom still lives in Del Mar. Was a great area to grow up, in the 1950s, and is still a wonderful area.
Bill Bruns
Pacific Palisades

Glen Johnson September 24, 2015 at 5:53 pm


You stated that “A companion report reviewed Wednesday by the City Council from the engineer tapped to study the site estimates that it would cost between $3 million and $4 million to bring the site, which has been shuttered since 2003, up to code.”

This was not a bid, it was a rough estimate from the Architect who produced this 90% draft report, who was without doubt basing his estimates on the type of contracts that a City might enter into. If one considers repair rather than replacement, and includes the sweat equity of volunteer labor, the costs are certain to be lower. In addition, many of the suggestions from the Architect are beyond the code for current buildings, for instance the Encinitas Café does not have dual-pane windows.

It may not be necessary to gold plate everything in the first stage of this center.

With due respect to your reporting skills.

Aaron Burgin September 24, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Hey Glen,

I understand what the report was, simply a 90% draft estimate, which was part of the reason why it was placed at the bottom of the story and referred to as an estimate.

All the best,

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