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Art, education take center stage as interim use for Pacific View site

ENCINITAS — After a year of discord and split votes over the future of the Pacific View Elementary School site, the council moved forward unanimously with the first steps toward developing a temporary use for the property.

The council voted 5-0 Wednesday night to confirm the scope of the interim use — an arts, education and community gathering place with an emphasis on theaters, museums, education, outdoor sales and swap meets and park and recreation space.

The council’s vote also authorized staff to solicit architectural services to prepare a preliminary design report for the property and to direct city staff to complete the ongoing update to the city’s Arts Master Plan as quickly as possible, which will facilitate the long-term vision for the Pacific View tract.

The council decided against setting aside funds right now for renovating the buildings, instead waiting until the architectural report is completed and then dealing with funding through the city’s capital improvement budget process.

“All council members recognize that there are many competing demands for funding,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer wrote Thursday morning in her weekly newsletter to supporters. “We will be making tough choices in our Capital Improvement Plan process.”

The decision to not earmark $500,000, which were savings realized from the Pacific View bond sale, for tenant improvements came after several council members and members of the public expressed concern that the action would run counter to the longstanding city practice of putting savings back into the capital budget and letting the council set funding priorities.

“I talked to our longest serving council members and asked them has it ever been done before,” Mayor Kristin Gaspar said. “And it hasn’t been done before. The money goes back into the general fund and then goes into the CIP process…and that is how we come up with our top priority process.”

“That half million dollars does not belong to Pacific View,” she said.

A council subcommittee composed of Tony Kranz and Shaffer have been tackling the question of what should the council do with the Pacific View, which the city purchased from the Encinitas Union School District for $10 million last year.

Kranz and Shaffer’s initial proposal to the city was to move forward with an arts and cultural museum, but the council decided Wednesday that the scope should be broader, although most of speakers at the committee and council meetings have spoken in favor of a center for the arts.

Several community members, speaking about the future plans for the city, urged the council to move forward with a potential election in 2016 to change the zoning of the property to accommodate a wider range of future uses. The council declined to do so, although they said it would be a discussion they would broach as staff completes the arts master plan update.

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