ENCINITAS — The City Council declined to bid on Pacific View at Wednesday night’s meeting, the latest in back-and-forth negotiations over the site.
The city previously offered EUSD (Encinitas Union School District) $4.3 million for the property, but the district opted for a March 25 public auction, with a minimum bid of at least $9.5 million.
Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said it’s difficult to justify a bid that high given that city-ordered appraisals of the site came in below that amount.
Those appraisals, one for $3.3 million and the other for $7.3 million, took the property’s current zoning, which allows public facilities or semi-public buildings like a hospital, into account.
However, EUSD has asserted that the property can be rezoned to allow for housing, increasing the value of the land. Yet, some residents believe Proposition A would require a rezone request to go to a public vote.
Resident Felix Tinkof said that Prop A and community opposition to housing on the site would deter developers from participating in the public auction.
“It seems to me that any developer walking into this property would have to know they’re walking into a hornet’s nest,” Tinkof said.
The district believes the rezone process is already underway, which the city disputes.
EUSD maintains an active rezone application from a previous plan for Pacific View is on file with the city. But City Attorney Glenn Sabine said the statute of limitations expired, meaning the district would have to begin anew.
After the meeting, City Manager Gus Vina said he was unsure of how long it takes to submit and process a rezone request.
To answer that question and more, City Council directed staff members to put together a FAQ sheet for prospective buyers of the property.
Councilman Tony Kranz floated a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot to pay for infrastructure like Pacific View, an oceanfront property the city wants to turn into a community arts center.
The council will consider the sales tax idea at a later date. But other council members stated the proposal is unlikely to help the city with Pacific View since the election isn’t for another nine months.
The city and EUSD began meeting over Pacific View in closed session last September.
Encinitas submitted its offer in late December. When a counteroffer didn’t come, the city tried for third-party mediation.
EUSD declined, stating the city and district were too far apart in terms of price. Last month, the district voted to auction the site, noting that money from the sale could be used for facilities or go into the district’s general fund.
The city sent a letter three weeks ago, again asking for a counteroffer, which EUSD didn’t directly address in a Feb. 7 letter, according to council members. Instead, EUSD responded by stating it intends to proceed with the auction and rezoning the property.