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Pacific View Sale in Jeopardy

The Encinitas Unified School District could lose millions of dollars if the Encinitas City Council does not call a special meeting to approve zoning changes to the Pacific View Elementary School property.

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.

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Jay Berman October 25, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Obviously not enough palms are being greased ...
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 07:37 PM
The Pacific View rezoning issue, where Timothy Baird, on behalf of the EUSD is attempting to require City staff to immediately accept a private application and to begin the process of preparing a report compliant with California Environmental Quality Act constraints relative to creating an entirely new zoning classification, should not be undertaken subsequent to a special meeting with less than 72 hour notice. No matter how much pressure is applied, or how “glamorous” the “private applicants” may appear to be, Council must not bow down to special interests’ desires to be accommodated with unprecedented special privileges. Right now, even though EUSD is on title, the people actually own the donated land through the public/semi-public zoning classification. That’s how the zoning should remain, on behalf of its donors, on behalf of the children, and the entire community. EUSD Superintendent Timothy Baird could have dropped the lawsuit as soon as he agreed to accept proposals within the public/semi-public zoning. Now Baird is unfairly and disingenuously pressuring Council and this community because HE made poor decisions and used poor judgment in changing his Request for Proposals.
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Baird made this "switch" after the fact of various non-profits already having submitted their proposals (only twenty working days were allowed for applicants to submit proposals); when the new “deal went down" through closed sessions, changing the requirement of the RFP from requesting non-profits to submit offers to lease or purchase WITHIN THE CURRENT PUBLIC/SEMI-PUBLIC ZONING, to what we are now presented with through Art Pulse and John DeWald’s failed escrow agreement, as facilitated by Baird. After a series of classic “baits and switches,” we instead are faced with a financially unstable firm, according to news reports, running at a deficit since it was formed, in 2008, now partnering with a for-profit developer, wishing to own a portion of our historical and cultural heritage, which INCLUDES the open space of the land, itself, at the surplus school site, Pacific View. What was (or is) planned by DeWald is "billed" as from 7-9 residential lots, WHICH ARE TO BE FOR TWINHOMES, in addition to a so-called “caretaker’s residence in part of the monolithic “mixed-use Art Center.” But the entire site is to be zoned mixed use, only a new “hybrid,” which is STILL mixed-use residential, by another name . . . DeWald would be the actual financier of the entire project, putting up all the escrow monies and paying $3 Million for 20% of the land, leaving the public "out in the cold." But If he drops out by Oct. 30, he gets back his $100,000 deposit!
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Once the land goes out of the public domain, and is no longer zoned public/semi-public, the entire acreage could be, in the future, completely developed and over-built as mixed use. A single hall or classroom could be denoted as “art center.” An Art Center can and should be created WITHIN the public/semi-public zoning. Major and/or minor use permits could be issued for some retail sales of artwork, we know this! California Education Code requires that when the land was first, IN FACT, surplus, after EUSD shut down the school in 2003, then it should have offered 30% of it (.84 acre) for sale at 25% of the land’s appraised value to the City and County and other public entities, for open space. State Law conditions this requirement on the prerequisite that the land should have been used, in part, for open space and playing fields eight years prior to the time it is leased or offered for sale. The City, in 2003-2005 leased the Pacific View site for a temporary public works yard, paving over the playing fields. The School District, through Superintendents Devoir and King, didn’t do its homework in getting an independent appraisal. The land was never offered as it must be according to those provisions of California Education Code known as the Naylor Act. Again, according to the law, .84 acre must be offered to the City and County at 25% of the appraised value. This bears repeating!
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 08:06 PM
That appraised value must be determined within the current public/semi-public zoning, which IS COMPATIBLE AND SIMILAR IN USE to that of PROPERTIES IN THE SURROUNDING SPECIFIC PLAN AREA. The now dismissed lawsuit was already moot, and was bogus, to begin with, because the land NEVER HAD TO BE zoned residential OR mixed use, according to the section of the Education Code EUSD was relying upon in its only recently dismissed lawsuit, an overt attempt to coerce Council through fear of litigation. Now Baird again tries to coerce Council, suggesting that the City is somehow responsible for teachers losing their jobs! There is no guarantee that any money received through selling off donated land, an irreplaceable asset, part of our public heritage, would actually go to teachers’ salaries. Two years ago, in 2010, the voters passed the EUSD General Obligation Bond in the amount of $44 Million! Before that, we passed, I believe in 2008, Proposition O, for millions more! We don’t want our land to be pulled out from under us, now, through a shell game of zoning change! Baird recently had his contract renewed; he probably got a raise to more than his previous $200,000 + per year. When he worked in Ojai, through 2008, he was making over $65,000 per year less as Superintendent of Ojai Unified School District. He became embroiled in controversy when he tried to halt the development of a skatepark promised to the community there.
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Instead, Baird tried to stop the skatepark, working with developers towards a strip-mall styled “Art Center,” highly discussed, and panned, in local blogs . But the Ojai community skatepark WAS built after Baird came to EUSD, where he promptly began to work with lawyers to claim the Naylor Act didn’t apply because the land was going to be traded, not leased or sold. This was claimed as recently as the October 2011 press release, only one year ago. But now, instead, when a sale is sought, the new claim is the Naylor Act doesn’t “count” because it’s too late! Not true, the time tolls from the time it was originally offered for lease to the City in 2003, after the school was “permanently closed.” Here are Baird’s baits and switches: 1. RFP to all potential non-profits was for a proposal within public/semi-public zoning, switched to a non-profit in partnership with a developer privately applying for an entirely new zoning classification. This is the biggest switch of all, wanting to change the zoning out of the public domain, thereby privatizing land donated to the public “for the children.”
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 08:18 PM
2. Art Pulse misrepresented part of its income as a loan when applying for a grant from the California Arts Council. The grant was initially awarded, then rescinded when it was discovered that Art Pulse (aka San Diego Fine Arts Council)did not have income other than debt. Art Pulse, through April Game, represented it had “cash on hand” and deep-pocket backers. Two loans have been made, by Mr. Moon, an unknown benefactor. 3. The number of requested “residential lots” is misleading because twinhomes, not single family residential units,are actually planned. 4. The entire parcel would be changed to a hybrid “mixed use” so that sometime in the future the land could be redeveloped, privately, to entirely mixed use, akin to Pacific Station, also developed, and now re-sold for short term profit, by DeWald. EUSD didn’t do it’s homework, in that it didn’t properly “vet” Art Pulse before accepting its proposal. EUSD apparently didn’t care that the non-profit could only “cinch the deal” through partnering with a for-profit developer. Baird’s plan, all along, was probably to facilitate DeWald, who had been “waiting in the wings,” before Baird came to Encinitas from Ojai. This SWITCH from non-profit to short-term profit was made possible due to the Brown Act exemption, which allows for closed session meetings when real property negotiations are being discussed.
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 08:36 PM
But the public feels real estate transactions, should be transparent, especially with respect to open & public appraisals when public entities are involved as buyer or seller. EUSD didn’t do it’s homework, either, by getting an independent appraisal within the current zoning. Baird didn’t do his homework in letting non-profits who applied know that he intended to ask for a special compensation for Art Pulse, insisting on creation of a completely new zoning category, heaping pressure on Council, & blame for his own failings, in the name of a manufactured “cut off point,” about which Council WAS NOT PUBLICLY NOTICED! Baird NEVER should have set up his shaky deal to privatize public land to begin with. He can't blame Council, for his lack of prudence, his lack of due diligence, nor for EUSD's wrongly following his lead in failing to honor the intent of the State Legislature as mandated by Education Code, with respect to the Naylor Act. Baird appears to have mixed allegiances, by his record, here, and in Ojai; he seems to favor mixed-use development for short term profit over parks and open space, over maintaining a community asset for the public’s common good. I’m sure Glenn Park, in Cardiff, could have been developed as mixed-use for maximum short-term profit potential, for a few. But Council knows that the greatest value is not always monetary gain. The open space, of this community jewel, preserved for future generations, is the highest value.
Lynn Marr October 25, 2012 at 08:53 PM
We could have a true community art center amidst our precious land, this jewel by the sea. Our public asset, which belongs to all of us, should remain in the public domain. EUSD could reopen a more realistic (longer than twenty working days) and more equitable period for non-profits to submit applications for a new RFP, and this time, maintain the integrity of the original plan that the proposals should be for redevelopment within the public/semi-public zoning. Donated land should not be privatized. This wasn't to be a “quid pro quo,” if the lawsuit were dropped, then an application for zoning change and Specific and General Plan Update would be reconsidered ONLY as to whether or NOT city staff would be directed to begin processing the General and Specific Plan Amendments. That would be unwise, a waste of time and resources, and would establish a terrible precedent toward catering to private development interests. Our much loved and recently deceased friend, Bob Nanninga advocated for saving Pacific View and honoring the Naylor Act. Former Mayor and Councilmember Maggie Houlihan, who passed away on 9/16/11, only a year ago, also wanted to keep the zoning public/semi-public; Maggie was certain, as we are, that a community art center, on public land, could be a tremendous benefit to our citizens, and to future generations. Let's put the common good before short-term profit for a few.
Jay Berman October 25, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Should be sold off to a developer to build about a dozen single family homes on .. be done with it ... it will probably remain vacant for another 20 years ..
Lynn Marr October 26, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Jay, many of us, including Ida Lou Coley - the first and loudest person to advocate that the Pacific View Site was given to be used for the children of Encinitas, have a vision that land donated to the public should remain in the public domain. A small community art center, comparable to the Scout House at Glenn Park in Cardiff, could be developed, including repairing and maintaining the buildings that were used for classrooms by public works yard employees. EUSD intentionally has allowed the school site to fall into disrepair. "Vacant" does not have to mean that it is not used for open space, a community garden, for fresh air, and yes, for a smaller, community art center.
Jay Berman October 26, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Lynn, just another thing for this city to maintain ... the district should be able to sell it and recover the money for whatever it needs, I would hope facilities maintenance .. the area is residential, it should be subdivided into like sized lots for residential development .. matching current densities .. this city pays way too much for whatever it develops .. pretty disgusting ... they take the Mossy property, prime commercial property for a city office and maintenance facility .. they build a firestation almost 3 times bigger than the one it is replacing in fully built out Cardiff .. There was an accident 200 feet from station #2 and they roll a firetruck and abmbulance .. 200 feet ... the waste is incredible, No more ... Lynn, I'm a conservative but in this city I'm not voting for the republican choices who for some reason seem to support this spending and "sustainable development"
Marianne October 26, 2012 at 11:50 PM
There are so many EUSD parents who support Dr. Baird and disagree with you Ms. Marr, just saying, so please leave out in your comments that you are speaking on behalf of "the children".
Lynn Marr October 27, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Marianne, the land was donated to the PUBLIC, for the children, not to be re-zoned and privatized. I'm sorry that some can't seem to understand that this is simply a land grab, for short term profit. We can have a wonderful community art center and more open space, and maintain an irreplaceable asset in the public domain. My children played ball on the fields at Pacific View. I am speaking on behalf of many in the public, including my own grandchildren, and future generations. Ida Lou Coley was the first and loudest person to advocate that the Pacific View Site was given to be used for the children of Encinitas! I can understand that some people have been "lobbied" long and hard by Timothy Baird and Art Pulse. EUSD Trustee, Maureen Muir, to her credit, didn't support the Art Pulse Plan, nor did she support entering into escrow with a for-profit developer, John DeWald, who partnered with Art Pulse, and sought to privately apply to the City for an entirely new zoning classification, when the requests for proposals were for NON-PROFITS WITHIN PUBLIC/SEMI-PUBLIC ZONING. (CAPS for emphasis, only; I'm not hollering!)
Lynn Marr October 27, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Jay, EUSD could maintain it, through whomever it leased it to, except for .84 acre, which the City should purchase for 25 cents on the dollar of its appraised value, according to the Naylor Act. That portion would be well-worth maintaining that, as open space, through the City, for a community garden, for example, or a pocket park. The community would maintain its own community garden. The City SHOULD help to maintain public land and public roads . . . I agree that the fire stations could have been upgraded and maintained, without building entirely new stations! That was initiated under Christy Guerin, our past mayor, now Brian Bilbray's district representative (thank goodness she's no longer on Council). Guerin told the fire dept. to "shoot for the moon," and they did! She was another big spending Republican. Guerin had tried to get a job with Arnold, when he was governor, but when they found out how cozy she is with public employee unions, his staff turned her down, cold.
Lynn Marr October 27, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Marianne, the land was donated on behalf of the children, and should remain in the public domain on behalf of the children. Because many in the community envision a true community art center surrounded by more open space, does NOT mean that we don't support the arts! Struggling artists could NOT afford to live in the proposed residences, either.
Jay Berman October 27, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I still think the city shouldn't even be involved except zoning the land for the same type of residential development already there ... the district gets money back that ultimately goes to the kids by way of the schools ... this complex municipal, political garbage makes it almost impossible to develop anything anymore ... We need houses and that is very desirable real estate that should become single family homes ..
Lynn Marr October 28, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Jay, your first comment is the best, & most succinct (far so than mine have been, sorry, but thanks for continuing the conversation). From my perspective, hands were greased in the form of closed session negotiations & favors offered & expected. Art Pulse's director, April Game, seems short on actual funds or fundraising ability & long on her ability to "schmooze" Baird & DeWald, & thru them, the EUSD Board of Trustees. I'm glad that Mo Muir wasn't fooled! The law doesn't require the land must be rezoned at all. The law, which the now dismissed lawsuit was relying upon, referred to a code section that applies to cities that have special school zones. We have no such specialized zone. The public/semi-public zoning IS the same as & compatible with other properties in the surrounding area of the applicable specific plan. Land donated to the public for the benefit of the children should remain in the public domain. Profit is not evil, nor are capitalists or real estate speculators, but Pacific View is part of our community's public heritage. If EUSD were to lease the land, then the lessee would be responsible for maintenance of the property. Government exists to provide some public protections & amenities. I feel changing the zoning to residential would deprive the public, now, & for future generations, of an irreplaceable, donated asset. Baird attempted to use a moot lawsuit & a publicly unnoticed Oct 30 deadline to strong-arm Council. Both backfired!
Jay Berman October 28, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Lynn, as it sits now, the site cost EUSD to maintain it, it serves no purpose, its been vacant for years and the community and special interests will most likely never agree on what to do with it and more lawsuits are most likely on the horizon. No one wins, not the kids, not the community and not the city. Zoning it to match what's around it seems to be the path of least resistance. If it is a park or other city property, it costs the city and generates no revenue, if it is developed into houses for lets say $20m of value it generates big property tax every year that benefits the city, community and the schools and cost the city nothing. So, rezone to residential like the property's neighbors, build a dozen or so houses ... EUSD gets the money from the sale, nice new housing is added to the city and we get property tax revenue annually, otherwise that property looks like it will remain vacant way into the future ... doing nothing for the community, children or city ..
Lynn Marr October 29, 2012 at 08:19 AM
The reason you see it as the path of least resistance to privatize, Jay, is because we are so dependent on money from development interests. The area could have been maintained if it were leased out. I don't think the City of Encinitas should have been able to pave over the fields, without a public hearing on that. That's when the Naylor Act should have been addressed, when the school was first closed, nine years ago! If the land had been leased to the Artist's Colony for a small community art center in the existing classrooms, which the Public's Work Yard used as their headquarters for two years, then EUSD would not have had to pay to maintain it, the Artist's Colony would have!
Jay Berman October 29, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Lynn, money has to come from somewhere, it mainly comes from taxes, not developers. You build a dozen houses that match the area you create housing, we need to live someplace, they will be very nice expensive houses that will generate revenue every year as long as they are there, this money goes to the city for nice things like fixing the roads and maintaining the parks ... turning this prime real estate into something that takes money to maintain rather than generating needed revenue would be as stupid as .. umm .. the city buying the old Mossy property (prime commercial) and using it for a public works yard ... I am against using the PV property for high density or commercial development, just same as the neighborhood ..
Lynn Marr October 29, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Jay, if the surplus school site were leased out, we could maintain it in the public domain, through the City and EUSD. And the maintenance costs and redevelopment costs would be picked up by the non-profit entity leasing it. The City could still make tax revenues through sales, such as a weekly farmer's market, and art fairs, etc. But the greatest value isn't always money. The land is real property, and maintains its value. The dollar keeps shrinking in value, over the years. The true value is the donated land. The greatest common good, from my perspective, would be to have a community art center and more open space, for the entire community to enjoy, for ALL of our benefit, not just a select few.
Jay Berman October 29, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Common good ... who decides this ? How far does it go ? Should the government own all the real estate for the common good ? Government should own just what it needs, it should return public lands back to the private sector when it is no longer needed ... government manages nothing efficiently, this would be just one more thing that would wind up costing the taxpayer ... government should not be in the businesses of leasing land or managing property it is not using, government should take care of infrastructure, public safety, things of that nature ... so we just disagree .. look at what happens when cities try to stick their nose where it doesn't belong, they lose .. the Carlsbad golf course, Escondido center for the arts, Vista's Moonlight (which barely holds its own) ... Vista's Wave .. I can go on ..
Lynn Marr October 29, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Yes, we can agree to disagree, Jay. But the land was DONATED to the PUBLIC, for the children. If EUSD were to LEASE out the land to a non-profit, the non-profit would take care of all maintenance costs. This could work!
Jay Berman October 29, 2012 at 09:26 PM
But Lynn, wouldn't it be better id EUSD got $ 7 - 10m in one shot to use as they feel fit (for the kids) and then the portion of property tax on about $20M that goes to the cities and schools ? That sum alone would probably be more than any lease an art center would pay ... OK, the house would go to people that could afford them .. rich people .. I like rich people, I'm working to become one .. its a win-win .. What if the leasee can't make the payments ? The city still has to maintain the building .... get rid of it, get rid of the potential headache .. it just makes sense .... an art center can go anywhere, it doesn't have to be on some of the most expensive real estate in the state ...
Lynn Marr October 30, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Some of "the most expensive real estate in the state" was DONATED FOR PUBLIC USE, not to be privatized. The City of San Marcos has been very successful in maintaining public land in the City's name and leasing it out. Those leasing have paid for construction, then continue to pay for their leases, including maintenance and improvements. If a lessee can't afford its payments, then the contract is nullified, and a new lessee can be accepted. Why is it that ocean view property must be privatized and sold off? As I said, before, what if that were our opinion of the land where Glenn Park in Cardiff is? What if that land were just sold off to the highest bidder to build homes? The entire community would suffer a huge loss. Same for Pacific View. Why can't we have an art center, with more open space on land that is within the public domain. There is beautiful land around Balboa Park that is also public. Residential development, including mixed use residential, is NOT in this case the highest good for the land. Council agreed with that in November of 2010 and August of 2011. It would very likely vote the same way should this come before Council again. The issue should NOT be reconsidered until after the General Plan update, because that is going to affect how applications for upzoning are heard, including whether or not the public will get to vote on upzoning considerations!
Jay Berman October 30, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Lynn, the place will probably remain vacant for years to come, benefiting nobody .. its houses on all sides, it should be houses .. We have tremendous amounts of public land here .. San Marcos is the exception, they have done well, I don't see this city doing well, I see what it does with its assets and how it spends (0verspends) as is .. city is too divided and it looks like it will remain as such ..
Lynn Marr October 30, 2012 at 12:39 AM
The land is NOT vacant; it has the old structures of the classrooms on it, which COULD BE REHABILITATED AND MAINTAINED, by the Artists' Colony, for instance, through a non-profit foundation. The reason it has "sat unused" is because of poor decisions by various superintendents at EUSD, poor administration . . . After the City no longer leased the property, other non-profit groups could have been solicited in 2005, to submit proposals. Instead, the buildings were purposely allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, because Superintendents Devoir, King and Baird have all wanted to demolish them, rather than re-using and recycling the materials and structures, which were FINE, by the way to headquarter workers at the temporary public works yard.

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