The San Diego Botanic Garden has, for years, hoped to expand its grounds. With urbanization taking over much of the prime real estate in Encinitas, this has become more and more difficult.
On Saturday Jan. 5, James S. Farley, President and CEO of the Leichtag Foundation gave a presentation at the San Diego Botanic Garden's Annual Meeting.
On Dec. 20, the Leichtag Foundation closed escrow on the purchase of Ecke Ranch.
James Farley mentioned that a number of significant issues must be taken care of before the Garden can receive any amount of land. San Diego Botanic Garden leases the property from the county and some from the city of Encinitas.
First, "...the gardens ownership has to be in a form that guarantees it will be a public garden for generations." Currently has two different leases and two different expiration dates. Leichtag Foundation does not want to be a third landlord. This is a "major issue to resolve" before they will offer the land to the Garden. The Garden must come up with a new ownership plan, for example, a joint operating agreement.
Second, the governance of the Garden needs to change. The board has the ultimate authority of well being of the Garden and in the future the Foundation would act as a leader in authority. Leichtag Foundation wants "to be assured that the best possible governance obtains with the respect that the management of the resource they (Leichtag Foundation) are helping create."
Third, the Foundation wants to be assured that the Garden has the financial resources it needs to succesfully implement its master plan. Needs to be accomplished under a reasonable amount of time. A great deal of money will need to be raised which could be as much as $25 million to $40 million.
The San Diego Botanic Garden has had a long lasting relationship with the Leichtag Foundation and the Garden hopes to continue the relationship with the sharing of the Ecke Ranch land.
Most of the land that would be designated to the Garden if the Leichtag Foundation chooses to give it to them would be used as a flourishing parking lot and new welcome center. The proposed arts village would be on the perimeter of this the parking lot and would include programs similar in nature to the village in Balboa park. "It would provide an interesting buffer from all the activity on the (Ecke) Ranch," said Jim Farley.