In response to DEMA

Last week The Coast News printed a response from Ms. Dody Crawford to my letter detailing Enicintas Unified School District’s position on Pacific View. Ms. Crawford makes a number of statements (bolded) in her letter that require a District response.
“The original school buildings were inspected by a team DEMA brought together… The original buildings are in remarkably good shape.”
DEMA did conduct a walk through on one afternoon of our facility. This hardly takes the place of a professional analysis relating to asbestos, mold, or structural defaults of the buildings. The real issue here is that our insurance carrier informed us that they had significant concerns regarding use of existing structures without significant renovation. Professionals following official industry standards must do these types of repairs. Our consultants estimated that renovations could run into the millions and it might be cheaper to demolish existing buildings and start over. If someone were to lease the facility, complete the work necessary following our required standards and verifications, and get our insurance carrier to continue our coverage when the facility was opened, we would be happy to use the existing buildings.
“Our annual income sources included the Pacific View Cultural Center Operations, Downtown Farmers’ Market, ‘School’s Out’ festival or event, fundraising, membership, and sponsorship.”
When you remove the Farmers’ Market from this equation, there is no business plan presented here that brings in the estimated $390,000 that DEMA anticipates. The majority of funding would have to come from fundraisers, donations, memberships and sponsorships. Although we applaud DEMA’s efforts to support our downtown community, this is a difficult financial model to pay the rent year in and year out.
“The District wanted a guarantor. I believe that the city would have obliged, given DEMA’s reputation, but with the threat of a lawsuit aimed at the city by the District, it is no wonder they declined to underwrite the venture.”
This sentence makes no sense. If the City underwrote and guaranteed an income stream to the District there would be no lawsuit. We have offered to lease or sell the property to the City and they have declined on multiple occasions. The lawsuit could be withdrawn at any time if the City could help the District achieve a guaranteed level of income.
“The income from the sale of Pacific View cannot help ward off teacher lay-offs as Dr. Baird suggests. … This (Education Code) language excludes the ability to use funds for general fund purposes.”
Ms. Crawford was partially correct here. Until a few years ago, this was accurate. Recent additions made to the Education Code citation that she gives now also includes the following:
In addition, the proceeds from the sale or lease with option to purchase may be deposited in the general fund of the district if the school district governing board and the State Allocation Board have determined that the district has no anticipated need for additional sites or building construction for the ten-year period following the sale or lease with option to purchase, and the district has no major deferred maintenance requirements.
Let me conclude by stating again that the District is not opposed to DEMA’s vision of a Cultural Center at Pacific View. Last month, we sent DEMA a copy of our Request For Proposals (RFP) for Pacific View. We encourage them to submit a response to our RFP. With City support of the venture, I believe that a strong proposal could be put forward that could help their vision become a reality.
Copies of all District information relating to Pacific View can be found on our website at EUSD.net

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