Editor’s note: The following column is based on the author’s opinion, and does not fully take into account the school district’s viewpoint.
The saga of the Pacific View property has reached epic proportions. The tide needs to be turned quickly to prevent the story from ending in tragedy.
The Pacific View property, which was gifted in 1883 by J. S. Pitcher, has been the subject of hot debate during the past several years. Located on 2.8 acres only one block from the coastal bluff and two blocks from the thriving businesses along South Coast Highway 101, the property is home to the historic one-room schoolhouse constructed in 1883.
The more recent structure built in 1953 has fallen into increasing disrepair since closing its doors a decade ago, but many interested parties have seen beyond its current eroding exterior to its extraordinary potential. The dream of converting the historic property into a community center for arts and culture has been the impassioned desire of many locals.
With this intent, last year the City of Encinitas offered to purchase the property from the Encinitas Union School District for $4.3 million.
However, by that time communication between the city and EUSD had disintegrated and EUSD elected simply not to respond with a counteroffer. With the Jan. 9 announcement by the EUSD school board that the property will be sold at auction, emotions were reignited within the community.
Encinitas Union School District Board member Maureen “Mo” Muir responds to email inquiries, “I share in your vision for this community asset to be utilized in a manner that protects the intent of Mr. Pitcher who donated the property for our children and public use. As indicated by my statements and vote on this matter at school board meetings, I completely disagree with the policy platform my colleagues have taken.”
According to Encinitas Mayor Teresa Barth, who has since its inception supported the concept of an arts center at Pacific View, “The city is still willing to meet with the school board to find a win-win solution to keep this historic property for public use and support the children of Encinitas now and in the future.”
Encinitas City Councilman Tony Kranz states, “Encinitas has always attracted people who are either artists or supporters of the arts. It’s what makes our community so special. Another thing that draws people to Encinitas is the Pacific Ocean. So imagine how wonderful it would be to put these two things together by having an arts center a block from the ocean. … I’m still hopeful that the School Board will decide to postpone the auction and continue negotiations with us.”
According to Save Pacific View, an organization created for the sole purpose of halting the auction so that negotiations with the City can be restored, March 24 is the deadline for receipt of sealed written bids and March 25 is the public opening of bid and public auction.
Scott Chatfield, creator of SavePacificView.org comments, “Right now, our only goal is to stop the auction and allow time for a compromise to be created. That’s why as many Save Pacific View emails as possible need to be sent, as soon as possible.”
Chatfield adds, “If the SavePacificView.org site works, it’ll focus the droplets of people’s passion about the Pacific View property into a giant firehose that should be hard to ignore.”
The Save Pacific View website enables residents to submit emails which are automatically forwarded to the Encinitas Union School District Superintendent and Board members and each member of the City Council of Encinitas. Emails are also posted anonymously for viewing on the website.
One concerned citizen quoted the wisdom of internationally renowned artist Andy Warhol, “I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.” It would be prudent of EUSD to consider adopting this pragmatic approach to Pacific View.
The Pacific View property is an irreplaceable treasure nestled both geographically and emotionally within the heart of Encinitas. If auctioned to the highest bidder with financial interests as primary consideration, the historic site will be irretrievably lost as a legacy of the community.
Please consider voicing your concerns regarding the Pacific View property by visiting SavePacificView.org to send your comments to policy makers. As a community perhaps we can turn the tide before it’s too late.
Kay Colvin is director of L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, and specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org