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San Diego Unified School District is now one step closer to selling seven properties in order to obtain some much needed cash.

On Thursday May 10, San Diego Unified's Advisory Committee on Utilization of Excess School Property recommended to keep seven properties on the list of excess land.

Now the board of trustees will be left to decide whether to put those properties on the market during a board meeting on May 29.

However, if they agree to do so, the properties will be listed at a discounted rate properties in order to ensure they sell by June 2013. That way, the estimated $21 million can be used to fill next year's massive $122 million budget shortfall.

One of the those properties is the Mission Beach Center, a 2.23 acre piece of land on Santa Barbara Place, two short blocks from the beach and one even shorter block from the bay. In order to sell the land in such a short time-frame, the district has agreed to chop $4.7 million off of the most recent appraisal which had valued the land at $12.5 million.

And then there is Barnard Elementary, a 9.37 acre property appraised at $9.135 million. However, the property is zoned residential and 4.5 acres of it are undeveloped, prime for development.

During the May 10 meeting, Georgiana Becker, real estate specialist for San Diego Unified, admitted to the discounted price tags.

"We have to have the funds by June 30, 2013," explained the district's . "That is why the values are less than the appraised values. The appraisers even put in the appraisals that they would be higher if there was more time for the developers."

During the meeting, trustee Scott Barnett made another plea to keep the properties and try to find ways for them to generate revenue for the school district.

"Where else in Southern California do you have property like this with absolutely no debt?" Barnett asked during the meeting. "We should do is look at all of our properties and ask 'what is the best long-term plan for excess properties, all properties for that matter. If we sell properties we will lose all control.

"It is financial short sighted to abandon our greatest assets in a fire-sale.

Barnett wants to hold off and figure out a way, insolvency included, to lease the land so the district can keep cashing checks from the properties.

"I know what you're saying and [San Diego Unified] can generate a substantial amount of revenue with what you have. I have to respectfully disagree," said committee member John Casey, a real estate consultant and former Vice President for Burnham Real Estate Services.

"I know the market is bad but it was irrationally exuberant before. I wouldn't beat yourself up about this being a 'fire-sale.' To try to hold off I don't think you are going to get that much."

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Comments

Visduh May 14, 2012 @ 3:59 p.m.

So Scott Barnett wants to continue to have the district speculate in real estate. Hey Scott, how about having the district run the schools and stop the other stuff that has nothing to do with education? Maybe you people could find the time and attention to start getting it right.

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monaghan May 14, 2012 @ 4:39 p.m.

Visduh, how about you consider that the School District is STEWARD FOR THE PEOPLE OF SAN DIEGO for a lot of valuable property that developers understandably have been salivating over even before ex-Superintendent Alan Bersin?

A Board majority has raised its way into red ink with promised teacher salary increases and a shrinking State budget and now it seeks to start liquidating assets. Scott Barnett needs ONE MORE VOTE TO PREVENT THIS from happening: I call on trustees Shelia Jackson and Kevin Bieser to join Barnett in responsible opposition to this plan. Barnett is right to oppose fire-sales of irreplaceable school district property and he deserves company on this action item slated for May 29.

In the 1980's the School District tried to abandon and then sell off Dana Junior High in Point Loma for condos. The hue and cry of opposition was tremendous and it didn't happen, thanks to the community activism of the late Ann Jackson and Sue Oxley, among others. Instead, the site was remodeled for district administrative offices and then it was reincarnated as an actual school, which it remains today.

This is what happens in urban school districts -- ebb and flo. The School District should retain its property to be able to meet future needs over the long term. The School Board should understand its obligation here and vote against property sales of any kind.

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Visduh May 14, 2012 @ 8:38 p.m.

Welll, I do question how and why the district found itself sitting on all those valuable properties. If it didn't need them years or decades ago, it should have sold them and allowed them to become part of the ebb and flow of commerce. The role of s school district is not to hoard, speculate, or manage properties. It is to educate.

Too many years ago, I watched the district consolidate three schools into one right at the end of the "baby bust." It closed Cleveland and Forward to cram all the kids into Gage. Then the closed campuses were leased out, and Cleveland became a parochial school, while Forward was leased to Coleman College for an elementary program.

Your mention of Dana doesn't really fit, because it never should have been closed at all, as evidenced by the fact that it is a school again. Goodman and his cohort were on a school closing binge around 1980, and while most areas beat back the drive to consolidate, Dana didn't make the cut.

Unless a school district has a very specific and actionable plan to use a piece of property, it should sell any surplus pieces. It has neither the attention nor talent to handle real estate speculation and property leasing. Its job is to run schools and run them well, something the SDUSD has not shown an ability to do in recent times, or for a long time, actually.

But we do agree that selling those pieces at fire-sale prices to meet an artificial deadline is unwise. After sitting on them for far too long, they need not give developers a windfall in the form of below-market value bargains. The developers care nothing for the schools, the community, or anything that doesn't put money in their pockets.

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Burwell May 14, 2012 @ 10:20 p.m.

San Diego Unified currently has reserves for emergencies totaling almost $330 million to bridge the budget gap if state funding is cut. San Diego Unified is at least 2-3 years away from having to decide whether to sell the real estate at fire sale prices. This deal stinks of political corruption. Soime board members want to run for higher offices and are doing favors to obtain future financial support from developers.

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evavrgs May 19, 2012 @ 11:33 a.m.

Pardon me if I have no confidence in what any part of the School Board holds to be true, after they have PROVEN to me that they DO NOT KNOW what they are doing, I don't even know why they even consider(ed) the decisions they 've made or have ever made. I am supposed to believe that NOW they have the answer and it's the right answer--to sell valuable properties at cheap rates, because they FEEL they won't get a better rate? Human Nature to try and get something for nothing, especially when they're greedy. AND it's human nature to try and get something for something somebody else has done again, when they're greedy.
How can they, in fact, everyone who is in public office feel that they can keep making decisions that are not in the best interest of us the public and keep getting away with it? What about occupying San Diego 99%? In all parts of City of San Diego needs overhauling--sick and tired about sick and tired.

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