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School Board Trustees Approve Sale of Pacific View

Non-profit plans to transform former school site into arts center

The Encinitas Union School District Board of Trustees approved a long anticipated deal to sell during a special meeting August 14. The 3-1 vote, with trustee Marla Strich absent was just the beginning of a series of steps including securing permits and zoning changes that must be taken before construction can start on the planned arts center development.

The trustees initially to enter into negotiations with a group to sell the Pacific View Elementary site. But since then, the two parties had yet to agree on the particulars of the deal and negotiations resulted in significant delays. “This took a lot longer than I thought (it would),” trustee Carol Skiljan said at the meeting.

Three groups out of 15 original proposals were selected to make their pitch to the trustees during the February meeting.

San Diego-based non-profit Art Pulse was chosen in part because the group plans to purchase the site for $7.5 million and has some funds on hand. "As a school board, we have to be fiscal stewards of the district and protect our kids and their education," board President Emily Andrade said at the February meeting. She echoed those sentiments last night. “We can’t give the property away, that would be irresponsible,” she said.”

and the were also in the running. Both offered to lease the 2.8-acre oceanfront parcel. Trustee Maureen Muir supported Envision the View’s plan to turn the site into a community center.

Located on Third Street between E and F Streets, the modest school is surrounded by commercial buildings and smaller homes, with a few exceptions.  It closed due to declining enrollment in the area in 2003.

The property was gifted to the city in 1883 for a school site. The original schoolhouse is located to the west of the property and houses the

While several proposals have been tossed around regarding the future of the site, none have been met with success. In 2005, an advisory committee was created consisting of various stakeholders. An initial proposal to build a medical complex with office space and condos was met with disapproval by the downtown community.

The school board sued the city after the from semi-public to residential last year. Superintendent Timothy Baird said the board would drop the suit if negotiations with Art Pulse were successful.

Baird said the sale was complex prior to the board’s vote. “There are a lot of pieces to this,” he said.  “We are asking for money up front to enter into escrow.” “You’ve got to do it right. We’d like this to be a win-win for everyone”

said the organization was negotiating to lower the $400,000 deposit to $300,000. Game said local developer John DeWald was paying $300,000 towards the deposit. “If they (the district) lower the amount to enter into escrow then Art Pulse can focus on fundraising for the other costs (of the project),” she said.

He has also agreed to pay $3 million of the total purchase price of $7.5 million. In return, Game said DeWald would own part of the land in order to develop single-family homes.

“Art Pulse will only have to come up with $4 million plus the construction costs,” Game said.

DeWald said in an interview before the meeting that the residential component of the project was in keeping with the surrounding community. “The single-family homes will fit into the neighborhood and act as a buffer between what’s already there and the new arts center.”

The school board agreed to accept a $300,000 deposit, due by Oct. 30, as a condition to into escrow. Muir questioned whether the organization could pull out of the deal without any consequences prior to the deadline. The district’s attorney confirmed that no penalties were in the agreement if Art Pulse decided not to move forward before Oct. 30.

The deal could also net additional funds for the district if and when the residential developments are sold. Each home sold would net the district $30,000. “The additional consideration on the houses makes this (deal) fair,” Skiljan said.

Game plans to involve the community in various planning meetings and initiate a capital fundraising campaign. According to the organization’s tax returns, it took in just over $98,000 in 2010 and has run at a deficit since 2008. Game said a large loan given to the organization by one of it’s board members was going to be partially forgiven. She estimates the cost of arts center construction, including permits to range from $5 to 12 million.

The city’s director of planning, Patrick Murphy said the organization has submitted an request to submit an application to amend the specific plan to create a new zone for the property. “An applicant must first request council to allow it to submit a formal application to change the zoning,” Murphy said in a previous interview.

Game said the “arts center zone” would allow for artists in residency, retail, studios and a café. “This is good news for the longevity of the property, for the community,” she said. Several artists spoke in agreemnt at the meeting. After hearing the calls for a dedicated arts space, trustee Gregg Sonken agreed. “It looks like we’ve got a lot of artists looking for a home,” he said.

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Lynn Marr August 16, 2012 at 11:26 AM
The EUSD meeting was packed with art & Art Pulse supporters, many from Mission Hills, & developer John DeWald. The outcome was predictable; all property negotiations took place in closed sessions. We too support the arts & a smaller center; NOT Art Pulse's being chosen. April Game misrepresented the strength of Art Pulse's financial resources. According to an article in San Diego City Beat last November, a large grant awarded to Art Pulse by California Arts Council was rescinded when it was discovered she mischaracterized a loan as income. Because Art Pulse is running at a deficit, it doesn't have the resources it represented to the public & to EUSD. The only money actually "put up" so far, a refundable deposit, is the $300,000 PAID BY DEVELOPER DEWALD, on the condition that the property will be rezoned by Encinitas City Council, which has twice turned down rezoning proposals on good grounds. Dewald will only participate if he can own & develop a piece of land with duplexes. Struggling artists won't be able to afford living there! We strongly feel that land donated "to the children" for a school & playing fields, shouldn't be sold off for profiteers. EUSD & Encinitas City Council should also honor the vision & wisdom of State Legislators who passed the Naylor Act, part of California Education Code. 30%, or .84 acre should be sold to the City for 25% of its appraised value, for open space! Don't sell off & privatize irreplaceable land for overdevelopment!
Lynn Stine August 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
The proposed Pacific View Arts Center is very much needed for many of the art organizations and individual artists throughout the county of San Diego, in particularly North County, and especially Encinitas. Every work product needs a home and when it comes to art, an opportunity to share! It is my understanding that a substantial portion of the funds for the purchase of the land is already committed. With the amount of support seen for the project, raising the balance is likely to occur. In my interactions with longtime downtown Encinitas residents, some who actually attended Pacific View Elementary, it is clear they all support this project and are excited about that block coming to life again. They also feel that permitting a small portion of the block to be built as residential is a reasonable price to pay. Regarding the space being used as open space for the children of Encinitas, I feel that most of our local children have what they need in this area. Cottonwood Creek Park is a beautiful location that comes to mind, as well as our beaches; not to mention the smaller parks, pools, greenbelts, and walking trails distributed throughout our neighborhoods! We, and are children, are very fortunate. I do have one question. The Pacific View Elementary has been closed since 2003. If the city was interested in making a purchase of that land from the school district, why is this option just being presented now?
Lynn Marr August 19, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Pacific View neighbors want & support is a SMALLER COMMUNITY ART CENTER, with more open space surrounding it. We DON'T HAVE smaller public parks & greenbelts distributed thru the neighborhood. While neighbors have access to the beach, often crowded, there AREN'T sufficient fields for passive use, or playing ball, for example. The Naylor Act was enacted thru California Education Code, to insure that when a school is closed & the land becomes surplus, when the property is INITIALLY offered for lease or sale, 30% of it, or .84 acre of the Pacific View site, SHOULD HAVE BEEN OFFERED TO THE CITY OF ENCINITAS & THE COUNTY & any other public agencies, at 25 cents on the dollar, for OPEN SPACE. My daughters both used the playing fields for soccer when they were younger. Our cousin's son would practice baseball at Pacific View, when he was visiting his uncle, who lived in the apartments off F Street. The Encinitas Library, which is in the public domain, offers a wonderful opportunity for local artists to display their work. The property is NOT ZONED mixed use residential. Giving 20% or more over to residential use is NOT reasonable, when Art Pulse represented that it had sufficient funds to back the project, & would have no trouble raising the money to build & purchase. THE ONLY MONEY SO FAR DEPOSITED, WITH A GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL BE REFUNDED, IF THE CITY REFUSES TO REZONE, HAS BEEN PUT UP BY DEVELOPER, JOHN DEWALD, who is buying the land to develop for profit.
Lynn Stine August 19, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Kids need art too. I hear in electronic communications that all capital letters are the equivalent of yelling? Doesn't feel like a conversation I can continue.
Lynn Marr August 19, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Lynn Stine, I use all caps within a few sentences for emphasis, not to offend your delicate sensibilities. I agree that Kids need art. They have a beautiful $24 Million library where they can see or hear art, daily, in Encinitas. We also support a smaller community art center allowing for .84 acre of open space, for the children. My feeling is that you don't want to discuss the valid issues I've raised, so you resort to criticizing my style. While you may "hear" that all caps can equal "yelling," in electronic communication, you will notice that only parts of a few of my sentences are in all caps and ONLY because there is no mechanism by which we can use bold or italics, for instance, for emphasis, in our comments here. However, If you don't agree, or can't defend your position, you are more than welcome to drop out of the conversation. It's a FREE COUNTRY. Perhaps that bears emphasis? We remain free to oppose overdevelopment and privatization of land donated for the children. I trust that the community and Encinitas City Council will support the children and the public at Sept. 12 Council Meeting, not caving into EUSD's bogus lawsuit, when the current public-semi public zoning does allow for a smaller community art center, where artists could display their work, and sell it, with a major or minor use permit. Struggling artists could NOT afford to live in the residential units, which are proposed as duplexes, built for individual profit, not the common good.
Lynn Marr August 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM
PS: Re-reading the "dueling Lynn's" here is amusing ;) I apologize if I used all caps in some sentences & inadvertently breached some kind of internet protocol. Lynn S, I appreciate your bringing any "etiquette deficit" to my attention, & I'll be more aware of criticisms of my style, ongoing. I say this because I appreciate an open & respectful discussion on the issues and concerns of those who are doing our best to Save Pacific View! I do sense you have no real argument to the points I've made, so it may seem easier for you to "drop out" of the conversation. Your choice; nevertheless, I apologize if I somehow influenced you so as to discourage your further input. My intent has been to emphasize, NOT to yell, ok? Also, we can all take responsibility for our own choices. Perhaps better not to blame our decisions on others? Many of us feel strongly about saving Pacific View from the deceptions of PR lobbyists & for-profit developers who would forever change our community character, robbing us of part of our laid back town's heritage. We've advocated for years, including thru Bob Naninnga, now deceased. Encinitas isn't Mission Hills. If the property is to be sold or leased, we feel this would be better thru local civic groups, because our community understands local needs & desires better than that judged to be our wishes by "out-of-towners" & a developer promoting dense, mixed-use development. We don't need or want another Pacific Station @ Pacific View!
Lynn Stine August 20, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Thanks for that, Lynn M. I am new to understanding the benefits and implications of the arts center. So I am not going to formally drop out of the conversation, but I am doing some of my own research on the matter before I get back to you. I'm not sure what decision I'm passing the buck on. I used the "we" and "us" without identifying those individuals as I was following your lead of the use "we"; I am not sure if you represent an organized group of not. Also, I would not publish names of individuals or groups without their permission. However, the people who have been talking with me are long time Encinitas residents, and a few have even attended Pacific View Elementary in the late 50s, early 60s. These individuals are active in the community and some of them have actually worked with Bob Naninnga on some of his issues of concern. So maybe it is the case that people with many similar interests and concerns can disagree on one or two points of view. I do feel strongly that growth is okay if its nutrients contain the voice of the community. And the voices I've being hearing, including my own, my family, and my friends, say that this is a good thing for Encinitas.
Lynn Marr August 20, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I know that Bob Nanninga was passionate, as I am, that the Naylor Act was & is applicable & should be honored. Any proposal should include .84 acre, or 30% open space. I talked to more neighbors, yesterday. They also had wanted the property to be developed thru a local non-profit. I speak for my husband & myself; I'm on the Steering Committee for Leucadia Neighbors & active in Encinitas Neighbors & the Encinitas Taxpayers Association. Many long time friends, here, including a few living on Neptune, were concerned about Art Pulse being selected to initiate a development proposal, as Maureen Muir, Trustee at EUSD was & is. In fact, Mo was elected to the Board of Trustees primarily for her platform on saving Pacific View. I had voted no to all the incumbents on the Board, & I'll be doing so again, with the exception of Mo. I'm very disappointed in the other Trustees, & especially with Superintendent Tim Baird. He came from Ojai Unified School District, where he tried to break promises made to the community that a skatepark would be built on surplus school property there. The park was built, after he left, to come to EUSD, @ $65,000 more per year, here, so over $200,000, at a time when teachers are being laid off. Upon his arrival, he dismissed my e-mail, after I immediately informed him of Naylor Act concerns. Baird's bottom line seems to be money; he doesn't comprehend the underlying value of the land & its place in our heritage & our community character.

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