The Coast News Group
The Carlsbad Unified School District offices. Courtesy photo

CUSD in property dispute at Buena Vista Elementary School

CARLSBAD — A land survey after the passage of a $265 million school bond revealed land previously not thought owned by the Carlsbad Unified School District.

Upon an assessment for security fencing around Buena Vista Elementary School, a surveyor discovered a property encroachment at 1298 Buena Vista Way.

The encroachment consists of landscape, hardscape, retaining walls, fences and patio amenities including a brick oven, according to Assistant Superintendent Chris Wright. District staff and legal counsel executed a license agreement with Julio and Yolanda Ramirez, who reside on the property. They signed their agreement on Oct. 8.

However, the surveyor also found an adjacent parcel to the Ramirez’s is also encroaching on the district’s property. During its Nov. 13, Wright reported to the district’s board of trustees the second homeowner would not sign a licensing agreement, forcing the board’s hand.

“The agreement is fair and reasonable,” Wright said.

He said the improvements made by the second homeowner are not small value items, but the district is the rightful landowner. Wright said the properties reside on the south edge of the school.

Wright said the properties sit above the school grounds with a small slope merging down to the school’s field. The fencing, he said, is supposed to be installed along the top.

Part of the bond, known as Measure HH, is to upgrade all fencing at every campus with eight-foot wrought iron for more secure campuses. The district has already begun installations at numerous sites throughout the district, along with adding a digital visitor registration system to prevent individuals with certain criminal records from being on school grounds.

The board discussion focused on legal remedies with the homeowner refusing to sign the agreement. Additionally, the board also raised concerns with potential liability concerns from the agreement, although Wright said the district’s attorneys provided a solid agreement to ensure protection for the district.

Wright also said the attorneys advised to pursue legal recourse against the second resident.

Trustee Ray Pearson said it would be in the district’s interests to pursue legal remedies, while he and trustee Claudine Jones directed staff to research costs and capping those potential legal expenses.

“I think it’s important to pursue legal remedies,” Pearson said. “But not knowing the fees, it allows us to negotiate.”

The agreement, meanwhile, does not require either property owner to financially compensate the district.

According to the agreement, the licensee, or homeowner, “shall indemnify and hold licensor (CUSD) and the property of licensor free and harmless from any and all liability, claims, loss, damages, or expenses, including attorney fees and costs, resulting from licensee’s occupation and use of the right-of-way under this license, specifically including, without limitation, any liability, claim, loss, damage, or expense arising by reason,” including death.

Also, either party can terminate the agreement with 30 days’ notice, according to the agreement. The residents, meanwhile, must also maintain the landscaping at their own cost, but with district approval as long as there is no “danger or interference” to any current or future operation of the facilities.