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Collapsed Art Pulse deal won’t affect district’s budget this year

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Unified School District (EUSD) won’t see increased class sizes or the laying-off of teachers this year following the collapse of their deal with the nonprofit Art Pulse. 

EUSD Superintendent Dr. Tim Baird told the Council at the Oct. 18 meeting that the loss of revenue from the Art Pulse deal would force the district to increase class sizes and lay off teachers.

EUSD would have received a non-refundable $300,000 deposit within the next several months and $7.2 million around a year later from Art Pulse if the deal to sell the old Pacific View Elementary site had gone through, according to John Britt, assistant superintendent of business services for the school district. The $7.5 million, however, wasn’t allocated into this year or next year’s budget.

“We do our budget in May and June and can’t account for income that’s not real,” Britt said.

The district’s fiscal year begins in July.

Additionally, Britt said district officials hadn’t met to tentatively discuss where specifically the $7.5 million would go.

“We hadn’t gotten that far yet,” he said.

Art Pulse wanted to turn the 2.8-acre site, which was closed in 2003 because of declining enrollment, into a community art center. The group also planned to build as many as seven homes on the property as part of the deal.

In order for the Art Pulse deal to move forward, EUSD asked the city to hear Art Pulse’s proposal to change the zoning of the Pacific View site to a mixed-use arts center. A deadline of Oct. 30 was set between Art Pulse and the district to deliver the $300,000 non-refundable fee. The city had said they weren’t aware of any deadline and that they had planned to hear the proposal at the next available Council meeting set for Nov. 14.

While the deal falling through doesn’t impact this year’s budget, Baird said future budgets stand to be negatively affected.

“The money could have been used to stave off cuts,” Baird said.

Because the Art Pulse deal is no more, Baird said the district would try and rezone the property to allow for housing.

Baird said the district and Art Pulse will go their separate ways without any legal action.

A lawsuit is possible against the city if it denies the zoning change request for housing, he said.


1 comment

Lynn Marr November 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm

EUSD Superintendent Timothy Baird is still threatening to sue! He should work with the City of Encinitas, cooperatively, not continue to try to bully through his plan to privatize part of our irreplaceable heritage through rezoning, taking the land out of the public domain.

EUSD, through Baird, put out a request for proposals in February of this year, soliciting proposals WITHIN THE CURRENT PUBLIC/SEMI-PUBLIC ZONING. After a series of baits and switches, through closed session, backroom deals with developer of Pacific Station, John DeWald, and April Game of Art Pulse, a San Diego non-profit running at a deficit since its inception four years ago, Baird switched to choosing to promote a deal whereby private applicants Art Pulse and DeWald would apply to the City of Encinitas for an entirely new zoning classification, that would be, in fact, a hybrid of mixed use, and would privatize the land, which was donated for the children in 1883, 129 years ago.

Baird became embroiled in controversy in Ojai, where he was Superintendent of OUSD through 2008. In Ojai, Baird similarly attempted to work with development interests to build an “art center,” which local blogs derided and panned as a strip mall. Baird did everything he could, in Ojai, to thwart that community’s desires to build a skatepark on a surplus school site there. When Baird was hired as superintendent for EUSD, in 2009, the Ojai community volunteers were thrilled to be able to finally build their skatepark, which the City, the Police Dept. and the public all wanted!

Baird was hired at over $200,000 per year, here, in Encinitas, when teachers are being laid off, and when he had been making at least $65,000 LESS per year in Ojai! Neither Baird nor Art Pulse have deep community roots. They apparently don’t understand the wisdom of maintaining and preserving our cultural heritage and our community character.

The article is incorrect, because what was actually planned was for DeWald to purchase about 20% of the land for a total of $3 Million, which would be developed (initially; it could have been redeveloped at greater density in the future once it left the public domain) for 7 to 9 residential lots, for 14-18 TWIN HOMES, NOT for single family homes, one on each lot. Plus a so-called “caretaker’s residence” was planned in one of the monolithic structures that were to be the art center. Once the land became privatized, there would be no guarantee the entire development couldn’t have been changed to mixed use residential, leaving only one hall or classroom designated as an “art center.”

Moreover, Baird and former Superintendents Devoir and King never released publicly an independent appraisal of the land, which is mandated by the Naylor Act, which sections of the California Education Code provide that when the school was permanently closed in 2003, and LEASED to the City of Encinitas, while Councilmembers Stocks and Bond were still in office, 30% of it, or .84 acre should have been offered to the City and County at 25% of its appraised value, FOR OPEN SPACE. Instead the City leased the land and paved over the playing fields.

Devoir, King and Baird all kept up the pretense that the Naylor Act didn’t apply, as the land was to be traded, not leased or sold. Now that Baird has convinced EUSD that the land, an irreplaceable public asset, should be sold for short term profit, the time for applicability of the Naylor Act should toll from when the school was initially closed, permanently, and leased for two years to the City.

The School could have been leased out continuously, since 2005, after which the City, according to more backroom deals, as property negotiations are allowed, through the Brown Act, in closed session, decided to purchase, as set up by conflicted and convicted ex Councilmemer Dan Dalager, assuredly with “kickbacks,” a deal to purchase the Mossy Property for a new public works yard. Dalager promised, in news reports that the Mossy property was turnkey at $8.5 million, then another million dollars was added for the “structures and equipment” on the property. After that about another $2.5 Million was spent to bring the so-called “turnkey” property into ADA compliance.

Meanwhile the San Dieguito Water District ratepayers lost our headquarters and our land to the expansion of the library. Our reserves were raided, SDWD ratepayers were given only a $1 Million credit toward rights of use only, of the Mossy Property. We’re not on title, although we owned our former structures and land, also with an ocean view, outright!

Moreover, after 2005, the various EUSD superintendents purposefully allowed the Pacific View property to fall into disrepair, rather than leasing it out, while further plans were considered. Any lessee would of course keep up repair and maintenance of the existing structures.

We’re glad we now have a new Council, more likely to act with integrity to help preserve and use to the greatest common good our wonderful jewel by the sea, Pacific View. We do favor an art center, with more open space, which must remain in the public domain. Land donated to the public belongs to the people. EUSD and the City of Encinitas, through our zoning laws should be good stewards and should begin by urging Baird to get the long delayed independent appraisal.

The City, for the benefit of leasing out the land for a TRUE PUBLIC community art center, AND more open space, could consider initiating a process of eminent domain. That process should take into account the appraised value as it relates to the Naylor Act and the value of the entire 2.8 acres, with 30% of it, or .84 acre appraised at 25 cents on the dollar, within the current public/semi-public zoning. Our new Council Elect should not be cowed or coerced by Baird’s continuing threats to sue, at taxpayers’ expense. The costs to litigate do not come out of Baird’s pockets, nor out of the pockets of the Board of Trustees, but both the offense and defense of any suit comes from the beleaguered taxpayers!

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