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Seen as the community’s last chance to postpone the auction of the old Pacific View Elementary School site, almost 100 people showed up at a meeting of the Encinitas Union School District on March 11. A sealed bid auction takes place on March 25 with a minimum asking price of $9.5 million.

The standing-room-only audience was advised by chairwoman Marla Strich that the board would not be able to answer questions nor take action as this was a “board meeting being held in public, not a public meeting. This will not be a discussion,” she said.

Scott Chatfield

Fifteen speakers addressed the board, organized by Leucadia resident Scott Chatfield, who created savepacificview.org. One of the organization's members presented hard copies of the 500 individual emails sent through the website to the EUSD board.

Chatfield advised the board that not postponing the auction would be a “death sentence” to the 2.8-acre ocean-view property. He asked the board to add “heart and vision” to their leadership.

Twelve-year-old Lucille Noden said she represented the 1000 students in Encinitas, ages 6 through 16. She said if the board would give the community more time to negotiate a sale to the city or to a combination of community or arts groups, she would show up with 1000 signatures of kids supporting the move.

Other speakers said the income would be quickly spent within the district budget. But by not selling the property, the board could leave lifetime legacy to the community, as most felt was the intention of the property’s donor, Mr. J. Pitcher, in 1883.

EUSD board member Mo Muir pointed out that the district had a large surplus in its reserve and that on the agenda later was giving raises to school employees. She then tried to make a motion for a postponement of the auction. The board chairwoman quickly interrupted her, stating the issue was not an action item, therefore no motion could be accepted.

Chatfield said his expectations were low coming into the meeting, but he knows the board felt the “passionate display” of the community. He believes he saw a possible crack in the board’s previous statements that the property would go to the highest bidder on March 25.

The board stated they might not accept the highest bid, but the one best for the community — the district may review the plans of the bidders prior to awarding the sale.

After the meeting, Chatfield said he assumed someone smart enough to raise $10 million would also be smart enough to have investigated the community, know the makeup of the current city council, and realize just owning the property is not approval to build any type of massive project on the historic property.

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Comments

Visduh March 12, 2014 @ 7:38 p.m.

"What if they give a party and nobody comes?" There is a good chance that savvy real estate developers will decide to stay on the sidelines. Why bid on a property that has all this baggage? Whoever would win the bidding would be looking at another decade of fighting and litigation before he could actually break ground. The city could make that piece of land nearly worthless by refusing to change the zoning, or by putting it into a special category.

Chatfield and his allies can find local lawyers who will file suit after suit to stop the development. I predict that if it sells, that is just what will happen.

The previous superintendent of the district set out to make a killing on that piece of land, and now that he's gone, the board still doesn't get it. A school district exists to run schools, and not to speculate on land it owns. That piece of property should have been sold for public use a decade ago. This whole spectacle should be a total turn off for anyone residing in the district, and make many of the residents question their votes for school board members.

Ain't local politics a kick?

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eastlaker March 13, 2014 @ 9:34 a.m.

You said it. It is, however, really great to see that community members are voicing opinions and not letting go of this.

It shows what can be done, despite school board members feeling their decisions are the final statement. The question is, have there been promises made to parties unknown at this time?

(Forgive me if the question seems out of line. I have been paying attention to the shenanigans of Sweetwater for a long time now. And there, as you well may know, there are more questions than answers on the subject of a school district being involved in land speculation and real estate development).

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Ken Harrison March 13, 2014 @ 4:02 p.m.

eastlaker - According to the report given the night of the mtg. by the district superintendent, there have been several back and forth negotiations with the city and other groups, and all proposals have fallen through for one reason or another, again according to the position of the school district. Others would disagree on the "negotiation" processes.

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Ken Harrison March 13, 2014 @ 4:09 p.m.

STORY UPDATE: The Encinitas CIty Council, last night (3/12), voted unanimously to send a letter to the EUSD requesting a meeting on Wednesday, March 19, or if not arranged by then, to postpone the auction until a meeting can be held between the city and the EUSD.

1

Visduh March 13, 2014 @ 8:21 p.m.

Let's kick the can down the road for a while, at least until the cranky residents cool off. Then we'll see if we can try it again. Ahh. Wouldn't it be great if these board members could remember that residents (taxpayers) elect them, and that they need to show loyalty to the electorate, and not the overpriced superintendent they hired? This delay doesn't change anything, because the same old pricing issues that were there ten years ago are still around today. The EUSD needs to get back to running schools, not trying to make a fat profit on a former school site.

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Ken Harrison March 21, 2014 @ 7:23 a.m.

Story Update Scott Chatfield reports the EUSD is proposing to postpone the auction until May 22.

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