ENCINITAS — With less than two weeks before a deadline for groups to submit plans on how to transform the forlorn Pacific View Property, at least one group has emerged as a potential operating partner — and it is growing.
Spearheaded by local resident Garth Murphy, a group that calls itself the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance has stepped forward as the most prominent group to date to announce its intentions to submit a letter of intent to the city for the Pacific View property.
“We are working until we have something that the whole community likes and can rally around,” said Murphy, a famed surf researcher and author. “We have a plan that includes anything.”
The city has given potential operating partners until Aug. 3 to submit letters of intent that would outline the group’s plan to rehabilitate, construct and operate whatever venture they propose on the grounds of the former elementary school campus.
The city could then choose to work exclusively with one operating partner and have that partner submit a more formal proposal, combine two of the partner groups or request additional letters of intent.
This operating partner would oversee Pacific View for the short-term future, allowing the city to forge a more long-term vision for the property while still being able to do something productive with the land.
At a July 20 workshop, members of the alliance expressed excitement about the opportunity to partner with the city for the short-term —and potentially a long-term — vision of the former elementary school property, which the city purchased from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014 for $10 million.
“It’s an amazing collective of people,” said Thora Guthrie, the executive director of the Encinitas 101 Main Street Association, who is part of the collaborative effort. “It includes everyone with interests ranging from the arts to the cultural arts and ecology.”
The Alliance, a loosely based coalition of community stakeholders in the fields of the arts, ecology and business, have rallied around Murphy’s vision to create the plan with the most community buy-in.
Among the civic leaders involved with Murphy’s group include Guthrie, Jessica Toth of the Solana Center, Danny Salzhandler of the 101 Artists’ Colony, Andrew Hewitt of Encinitas’ emerging “fourth sector” movement, and former Mayor Teresa Barth.
The July 20 workshop was a matchmaking session of sorts, giving community stakeholders an opportunity to view plans from potential operating partners to see if their interests aligned.
While there were several individuals who said they might submit proposals, Murphy’s group is the only one to publicly state their intent, Encinitas Public Works Director Glenn Pruim said.
Hewitt, who attended the workshop, said that members of the recently started fourth-sector initiative were approached to assist with the economic viability of the project, without profit being the main driver.
Hewitt said he is confident it can be done.
“Across the country, there are a number of these noble projects that are funded by entrepreneurial endeavors,” Hewitt said. “I am confident that the arts can get the financial support to support the vision as well as be financially viable.”
The next step, Murphy and others said, is to take all of the different ideas and stakeholders and synthesize them into a plan in advance of the Aug. 3 deadline.
“It is an ambitious deadline,” Hewitt said.