ENCINITAS — City Council voted unanimously at Wednesday night’s meeting to consider purchasing the Pacific View school site from the EUSD (Encinitas Union School District).
“There’s no question that it would be great if we could acquire the property on terms that make sense,” Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer said.
Shaffer added that she would like the city to have a communitywide discussion on the possible uses of the Pacific View property outside of the limits of council meetings. Dates and the exact format of those future discussions weren’t set.
In a letter dated March 4, EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird asked the city to entertain the idea of buying Pacific View at fair market value. Baird’s letter went on to say that if the city doesn’t want to enter into negotiations, the district would like to sell the property on the open market.
A dozen public speakers said that they would like to see the Pacific View property transformed into a community arts center. Echoing others, resident David Chase said that’s more likely to happen if the city buys the property.
“I hope that you keep in mind how many artists we have, and how many in the public we have who want to see and hear those artists,” Chase said.
Piper Lacy said that Pacific View should be transformed into an arts center to preserve Encinitas’ cultural heritage. She said an arts center would benefit children, because there aren’t many kid-friendly places in downtown Encinitas.
“It’s very important — and it’s been brought up throughout this — the children need a place,” Lacy said.
Several speakers said Pacific View could host a charter school, though some residents weren’t crazy about the idea.
The property, which is located along Third Street in downtown, was gifted to the city in 1883 as a school site.
In 2003, it closed due to declining enrollment. Since then, various plans for the property have fizzled out.
Most recently, Art Pulse, a regional arts group, wanted to create an arts complex and build as many as seven homes on the property.
Doing so required council to rezone the property by Oct. 30 of last year. But the zoning change wasn’t put on a council agenda before the Oct. 30 deadline agreed upon by Art Pulse and EUSD. Consequently, the $7.5 million deal fell through.
In the aftermath, EUSD officials said that the city knew about the Oct. 30 cutoff and failed to act. In response, city staff said that they weren’t aware of the deadline and that council planned to hear the zoning proposal Nov. 14.
On Wednesday, Councilman Tony Kranz praised EUSD for reaching out to the city and “shifting gears.”
“It didn’t work out how they envisioned, but perhaps that’s for the best,” Kranz added.
As part of council’s motion, the city will gauge how much the property is worth with an independent appraisal.
The city didn’t specify when Pacific View will appear on the agenda next.