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.
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.