The Encinitas Unified School District could lose millions of dollars if the City Council does not call a special meeting before Oct. 30 to amend the city’s general plan and rezone the empty Pacific View Elementary School property so an arts center can be constructed.
Superintendent Timothy Baird urged the council Wednesday night during oral communications to call a special meeting. He said the nonprofit organization Art Pulse, which offered to purchase the site for $7.5 million, does not want to give the district a non-refundable next week if it doesn’t have the city’s approval to build a mixed-use arts center.
“This loss of revenue will force us to raise class sizes even higher, and ultimately lay off some of our best and brightest teachers," Baird said.
“It is not too late to stop this train wreck."
The council denied the rezoning request during its Sept. 26 meeting because the district had filed a lawsuit against the city for previously denying two other rezoning requests for residential development at the 2.8-acre parcel. Baird said the district board held a special meeting the following week and dropped its lawsuit so the project could move forward.
“We notified you of this and met all of your timelines for filing the paperwork with the court,” he said. “We did this because time was essential.”
Although council members agreed during the Sept. 26 meeting to hear the issue again once the lawsuit was resolved, the item has been left off of the agenda twice – Wednesday’s meeting and the meeting scheduled for Oct. 17, which was canceled “due to lack of agenda items.”
“[Art Pulse] wanted to get the city’s approval before putting up the deposit,” Baird said. “You knew this, and based upon your comments, we expected that within the month’s time, you would put Art Pulse on the agenda again.”
Baird added that he called City Manager Gus Vina and Mayor Jerome Stocks to request the item be put on the agenda. He also sent letters and emails to the council members. Only Vina responded, Baird said.
Vina confirmed he spoke with Baird on Oct. 18 and explained that the item would have needed to be submitted by Oct. 15 to be added to the Oct. 24 agenda. Vina added the city was notified on Oct. 16 that the lawsuit had been dropped and city staff had planned to add the item to the Nov. 14 agenda, which he said is the next available date.
Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar said she wasn’t aware of the Oct. 30 deadline before the district’s recent letters. Vina said he also was not aware of the Oct. 30 deadline, and that it was a deadline between the district and the project applicant.
“The fact that is now being put on our shoulders is the laying off of teachers and the raising of class size, to me, it does not seem fair,” Gaspar said.
City Attorney Glen Sabine explained under the Brown Act, the mayor or majority of the council can arrange a special meeting.
David Miyashiro, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, also urged the council to arrange a special meeting so the district can “maintain a world-class education" amidst cuts to education.
“We need you to be responsible and ethical and help us do that as community leaders,” he said.
In other council business:
- Council adopted an ordinance for the the use of banners in public rights-of-way.
- Council awarded a $1.3 million construction contract for the 2012-2013 Pavement Rehabilitation and Overlay Project to PAL General Engineering.
- Council extended a contract for traffic striping and legend painting services with Orange County Striping Services, Inc.
- Council heard a presentation by Caltrans on the Public Works Plan and Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Report.