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City closes escrow, now owns Pacific View site

ENCINITAS — The Pacific View Elementary School site is officially in the hands of the city of Encinitas, as escrow on the property closed last week, the city announced.

The closing of escrow finalizes the $10 million purchase, which has been a point of controversy citywide, as critics believe the city overpaid the Encinitas Union School District for the land. Those critics included current Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir, who were on the short end of 3-2 votes supporting the purchase.

City officials paid for the property through the issuance of $10 million in bonds, which was part of a $13 million bond package. The remaining $3 million is for the renovation of the city’s venerable lifeguard tower at Moonlight Beach.

With the purchase finalized, city officials can now turn their full attention to the next steps —   finding an interim and permanent use for the 2.8-acre property.

A city council subcommittee has been on a so-called “activation plan,” which officials hope will identify some short-term and long-term uses for the property. Short-term uses are somewhat restricted due to the property’s zoning.

The historic downtown property has been vacant since 2003. The council majority and supporters of the purchase argued that the land was a legacy property and that they did not want to see it fall into the hands of developers.

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