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EUSD declines meeting with city before Pacific View auction

ENCINITAS — EUSD (Encinitas Union School District) declined the city’s offer to sit down and negotiate one last time before the Pacific View auction.

Last week, the City Council sent a letter asking EUSD to meet and discuss alternatives to the March 25 auction, like a joint-use agreement for the property. A response letter from EUSD made no mention of a meeting, but stated the district wants to give the city one more chance to acquire the property, on the condition that certain terms are met.

If the city bids at least $9.5 million — with the stipulation that the property can’t be rezoned or sold — by March 21, the EUSD board of trustees will consider calling off the auction, according to the letter.

“I had hoped that we would at least sit down first and have a discussion about the issue, as opposed to a take-it-or-leave-it letter,” Mayor Teresa Barth said on Monday afternoon.

Barth added that the district’s letter didn’t express a willingness to find a win-win solution for the community, particularly in light of the outpouring from residents who want the site to stay public.

Last week, residents packed into a school board meeting to prevent the auction. After they also showed up at a council meeting the next night, council members agreed to draft the letter.

But EUSD isn’t looking for a joint-use agreement with the city; the district isn’t interested in running an arts center or another community facility at the 2.8-acre site, EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird said Monday.

“We already have arts facilities, and (funds) from the sale of the property could go toward supporting those,” he said.

As for the condition that the land remains public, Baird said that was added because the city could theoretically purchase the property for $9.5 million, rezone the land to increase the value and then sell it.

“If we’re going to sell it to you for what we think is a low price for this property, then make that guarantee that it’s going to be public land,” Baird said.

More than a month ago, the city said the property isn’t worth $9.5 million under the current zoning. EUSD believes the property could be rezoned for housing or mixed-use, leading it to set a minimum auction bid price of $9.5 million.

On Wednesday night, council members will mull over whether they want to put together an offer for the school district. The discussion will begin during the regular meeting, but if price and terms of an offer are discussed, the council has the option of moving to closed session.

Should the city agree on a bid that satisfies the district’s terms, it only means the board of trustees will consider the deal at a special March 24 meeting, Baird noted.

If the council doesn’t come up with an offer, the district will open sealed bids during the March 25 auction.

Baird said he isn’t sure how many bids EUSD has received so far, adding that sealed bids typically come in the day of an auction.

Bidders can submit cash offers under the current public/semi-public zoning, which allows for everything from an arts center to a medical complex. EUSD is also taking bids that would rezone the property for housing or other uses.

If bids under the former option reach at least $12 million, only those offers will be considered, even if rezone bids are higher. Otherwise, the highest bid would win the auction.

 

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