The Coast News Group
Life, Liberty and Leadership

Pacific View Elementary School needs an appraisal

Encinitas residents deserve to know the true value of the Pacific View Elementary School site before any action concerning the site is taken by the City Council or the Encinitas Unified School District (EUSD). Until an independent appraisal is made available to the public, the community doesn’t know what the property is worth.
The 2.8 acres of prime coastal bluff property belongs to the people of Encinitas and was gifted to Encinitas by citizens who wanted the land to be used for the community and its children. The property is zoned Public, Semi-Public, which means no residential development can happen.
The EUSD wants to sell the land. Since closing the school in 2003 the EUSD has been trying to get the council to “up-zone” the property. Up-zoning is when a developer, in this case EUSD, asks that they get new zoning rights to make the land more valuable. EUSD wants to “up-zone” Pacific View from Public Semi-Public to R-15 Residential.
In May of 2009, EUSD sent a letter to the council offering to sell the property to the city for $10 million. An overwhelming majority of residents at the council meeting to discuss the offer expressed interest in the city purchasing the site for the community.
During the meeting Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan said “we need more information.” Barth said the council “has been given a very skimpy document and asked to make a critical financial decision for the community.”
Barth also said she would like to “direct city staff to come back with real appraisal numbers.” Barth quizzically asked City Planning Director Patrick Murphy “We have no idea of what the underlying value of the property is, is that correct?” Murphy responded, saying “I have no idea.”
It’s time Encinitas residents get an idea and an appraisal is done.
During the meeting, current Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks said that he “would be the voice from the dark side of the conversation” and that he “did not feel the need to move forward and seek further information.” Stocks said he “did not want to go down the path of spending several thousand dollars for an appraisal” and a made a motion that “We don’t go forward with this.”
The motion was seconded by current Mayor James Bond. The council then voted 2-2 and no action was taken to seek an appraisal. How could Stocks and Bond vote not to move forward if they did not know the appraised value of the property? What if EUSD was blowing smoke?
Knowing the true value of the property is important. There remains the possibility that the property could be made available to the city under the State Naylor act. EUSD would likely say the property does not qualify for the Naylor act, but if that is true then why did EUSD claim that they got the $10 million price tag using the Naylor Formula? And why did they tell reporters that they followed state Naylor act laws by offering to sell it to the city?
The Naylor act could allow the city to purchase the property for as little as 25 percent of the appraised value if it might serve recreational, educational and community interests.
There is also the possibility that the property is not worth nearly as much as EUSD is claiming. Many speculate that the $10 million price tag EUSD placed on the property has not been verified. Others say the $10 million price was arrived at by estimating the value of the property as if it was up-zoned, when it hasn’t been. Barth referred to the $10 
million as a “pie in the sky number.”
The Pacific View School site needs an independent appraisal. What is there to hide? Encinitas residents deserve to know what the site is appraised at today, as it is currently zoned, Public/Semi Public.
Today we all own a piece of that 2.8 acre coastal bluff property. People were kind enough to donate it to us for our families. Let’s find out what it is really worth before we let some EUSD bureaucrats sell it out from under us. Once it is gone, it’s gone.


ocb September 8, 2011 at 8:27 am

Vote out the EUSD School board in 2012. Why does EUSD need to meet behind closed doors? Why can’t they meet in front of the people? Pacific View belongs to citizens and kids. Pacific View belongs to the community. Baird and the EUSD Board need to be fired. We are about to get ripped off.

Alex Long September 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm

If it was "Gifted", why should the citizens/City of Encinitas pay anything to EUSD? EUSD didn’t pay a cent for it and the buildings on it aren’t worth anything. I think that it should continue to be "Gifted" to the citizens of Encinitas and a park, community center or an art center should be constructed there. That’s supposedly what the donators of the 2.8 acre parcel had in mind when they gave it to "THE CITIZENS OF ENCINITAS".

Common Sense September 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I love Audet’s suggestion of getting an appraisal as a starting point. As we recall, the person who offered to sell it for $10,000,000 had also preposed that his own offices be located at the site. Maybe he gave a figure that was so out of reach so that HE could be enjoying the bluff top ocean view.

The time for posturing and tantrums is over. EUSD should get an actual appraisal for this property before they do anything else!

Watchdog5 September 7, 2011 at 11:21 am

Thank you Andrew for clarifying the sticking point in all this debate. What is this property worth and did the school district properly offer this site to the city? Their contention that they did fufull the requirements of the Naylor Act is their basis for seeking re-zoning or legal action. This property is in the heart of Encinitas and it certainly is our business. You are correct it is time for the appraisal that Jerome Stocks was not interested in seeking. Here again the good old boy group and the three person rule prevailed. Two council members wanted this appraisal. We can spend $1500 for Los Angeles art restorers to look at the Surfing Madonna but we cannot pay for an appraisal that would benefit our whole city?
What is the matter with these guys. They will be spending millions and millions to construct a Sports Park for special interests and not even look at something that would benefit our whole community. We have given millions in bond money to the school district and they are mismanaging this asset by renting it for a $1.00 a year, selling in a down market and ignoring DEMA’s proposal. What do they propose to do with the purchase money if they get it? They plan to put it into their general fund to pay for things like chairs or pencils. There is too much hidden here and not enough transparancy. This community needs to speak out.

anonymous September 7, 2011 at 7:38 am

The EUSD board meets in closed session this week. Will the school go to court? Audet has good, simple, common sense advice in his column. An appraisal will let the public know what the property is worth under the present zoning. The very fact that the school district wants an upzone indicates that it is worth less than the price offered to the city.

Let’s clear the air. The school district has been less than transparent through this whole long process.

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