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Encinitas passes up school purchase

ENCINITAS — Although speakers overwhelmingly supported a possible purchase of the Pacific View Elementary School site, City Council was divided at its June 10 meeting.
In a 2-2 vote, the council declined to take action on an offer by the Encinitas Union School District to purchase the 2.8-acre parcel. A tie vote means that no action will be taken.
Councilman Jerome Stocks said the $10 million price tag was too high. Councilman James Bond voted with Stocks while Mayor Maggie Houlihan and Councilwoman Teresa Barth both said they wanted more information about the offer. Councilman Dan Dalager recused himself from the vote because he owns property near the site.
Stocks said the city did not have the money to develop the land into a park, as many of the speakers suggested, and that wouldn’t change with more information.
Although the district has denied that the Naylor Act applied to the property, the district valued the property using the state law formula that allows for the property to be sold below market value.
The current zoning is public/semi-public. The district currently has a plan for a mixed-use development that would require a zoning change. The Planning Commission declined to award the zoning change request last year but the district appealed.
Sarah Garfield gave a brief historical overview of the property and encouraged the council to “leave a lasting and meaningful legacy.” Garfield served on the Pacific View Advisory committee after the school board’s plans to develop a medical complex on the site was met with opposition.
“There’s no factories out there making vacant land,” said Mark Clamor, who lives next to the school.
Lloyd O’Connell, president of the Encinitas Historical Society, said he supported securing the site in a financially beneficial way to both the district and the city. “I think it is a valuable historic site,” he said. He encouraged the council to consider a swap of city-owned land with the district as a creative means of financing the transaction.
“I’d like to know what the property is worth,” Houlihan said after the meeting. “I’d like for everyone to know what will happen if the city doesn’t buy it.”
Jerry Peters, who owns property across the street from the shuttered school, said he supported the development of a park on the site. “It would retain the ambiance and nature of the neighborhood,” he said.
Bill Sparks commented that the official seal of the city did not include buildings, but rather reflected the open spaces. “I would encourage you to consider your legacies,” he told the council. He said that the residents would not applaud another commercial or residential development in downtown.