Recently, Leucadia resident Scott Chatfield woke up one morning at 3:00 a.m. and realized he had to do something to save the old Pacific View Elementary School. The 2.8-acre property comes up for public auction on March 25.
Perched on Encinitas’ bluff top at the corner of E & Third streets since the 1950s, the school has been shuttered since 2003.
The Encinitas Union School District determined there were not enough students residing west of I-5 to support keeping the school open. In the nine-school district, now the Paul Ecke Central Elementary School, west of I-5 in Leucadia, takes those students residing west of I-5.
A music-industry producer and manager, Chatfield is best known in local activism circles as the guy who saved the 760 area code. Six years ago, he organized the “Save 760” campaign, which resulted in the first-ever reversal of the California Public Utilities Commission’s decision to change an area code.
Chatfield has now established savepacificview.org. The website’s stated intent is to get the school district to “halt the auction and reach a compromise before this irreplaceable property is lost to the public forever.”
According to the school district, it failed in sales negotiations with various entities over the past ten years. The district recently rejected a $4.3 million offer from the City of Encinitas.
The bidding will start $9.5 million, even though the district had two appraisals done on the property: one came in at $3.3 million, another at $7.3 million.
Other community activists say the district is trying to hoodwink out-of-town developers by suggesting a rezoning for ocean-view, multistory apartments or condos. The activists hope that any request to change the zoning from public use to residential would come under the city’s Proposition A, requiring approval of the voters.
The school district maintains it has an active rezone permit from several years ago, when it considered building a mixed-use commercial and residential development along with district offices. The public resoundingly rejected the plan and the district withdrew its proposal. Glenn Sabine, the city’s attorney, says the district’s permit has expired.
The district may have another problem. Activists have found a copy of the 1883 deed by Mr. J. Pitcher, donating the original parcel that became Pacific View. They believe Mr. Pitcher’s intent was for the land to always remain for the “public good.”
In just a few days, the website has gathered a long list of supporters, including city councilman Tony Kranz and district boardmember Mo Muir, who cast the board’s only dissenting vote against the auction.