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Council will seek proposals on vacant fire station

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council will seek proposals for purchases or leases of an old fire station in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, but opted against seeking an appraisal of another city property on Quail Gardens Drive.

The Council unanimously agreed to have staff bring back the framework for a request for proposals for the Fire Station No. 2, located on the 1800 block of Mackinnon Road. The 52-year-old station closed its doors in 2013 to make way for a new station on Birmingham Drive.

The Council made the decision after receiving an appraiser’s report that tabbed the value of the building under its current zoning of public use as $410,000. The building’s value rises to $560,000 if it were zoned for residential use, but it would require a ballot initiative, which would have to be on the 2016 ballot, as the Council missed the deadline for an initiative on this year’s Nov. 4 ballot.

They also heard from representatives from two organizations — a co-working community and a marine cleanup nonprofit — who were interested in leasing or purchasing the building outright for nonprofit uses.

“Since we missed the deadline for 2014 to put something on the ballot, we should at least put it out there and see if someone is interested in purchasing or leasing it with the current zoning as-is,” Councilwoman Teresa Barth said, with her colleagues in agreement.

Council requested that the parameters of the RFP be as open as possible to allow for the widest variety of proposals.

When it came to the 10-acre Quail Gardens property, however, the City Council opted not to appraise the property until the city completes its housing element and parks master plan update, which will determine the future use of the property, which is currently zoned for a density-bonus project.

Several developers expressed interest in the property, which prompted the city to consider appraising its value.

One resident, Steve Gerken, urged the Council to allow the property to go through the planning process rather than seeking the appraisal.

Gerken said he approached the city last year to ask if it had the power to change the zoning to accommodate a park for the Quail Gardens corridor, but was told by staff the best way to do so was to get involved with the planning process.

“What I ask is for the Council to follow your own advice and the advice of staff and kindly tell the developers that they too, like residents, like city staff and the City Council, will have to wait until the master-planning process is complete,” Gerken said. “Only then will we know what the best use is for this property.”

The Council concurred with Gerken’s sentiments.

“I don’t think we want to design it up here on the dais,” Councilman Mark Muir said.