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Boomtown lobbyist

Bid deadline passes for Cleveland Elementary, site of 1979 school shooting

Brenda Spencer opened fire, and Bob Geldof later wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays”
Brenda Spencer opened fire, and Bob Geldof later wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays”

Eight children were wounded, a principal and a custodian died, and Bob Geldof got a song out of it. Now the site of San Diego’s former Cleveland Elementary school is drawing the attention of a well-connected lobbyist for the city’s often cut-throat real estate development business.

On Monday morning, January 29, 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Spencer opened fire on the school across the street from her house. Geldof later wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays” for his band, the Boomtown Rats, based on a quote Evening Tribune reporter Steve Weigand obtained from Spencer when he called her family’s phone number during the shooting spree. This January the school board unceremoniously voted to unload the property. “Cleveland Elementary consists of 8.76 acres of an improved school site,” says the offering notice. “Currently it is being used by a charter school as a middle school.” The minimum price was set at $5.8 million, with final offers due last month.

Whether neighbors approve or not, greater densities may loom, based on an April 24 lobbyist disclosure filing by the Atlantis Group, run by Marcela Escobar-Eck. The controversial former city development director, who quit office in the aftermath of the Sunroad over-height building scandal during the Jerry Sanders mayoral era, represents an outfit called Pref Investment 41, LLC. The firm is seeking “timely and equitable processing of entitlements” from the city for developing the land. Lately Escobar-Eck has been most noted for her advocacy of Carmel Valley’s controversial One Paseo mega-development. That proposal, being put together by Los Angeles–based Kilroy Development, has been forced onto the ballot by a successful referendum drive bankrolled by Costa Mesa competitor Donahue Schriber.

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Brenda Spencer opened fire, and Bob Geldof later wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays”
Brenda Spencer opened fire, and Bob Geldof later wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays”

Eight children were wounded, a principal and a custodian died, and Bob Geldof got a song out of it. Now the site of San Diego’s former Cleveland Elementary school is drawing the attention of a well-connected lobbyist for the city’s often cut-throat real estate development business.

On Monday morning, January 29, 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Spencer opened fire on the school across the street from her house. Geldof later wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays” for his band, the Boomtown Rats, based on a quote Evening Tribune reporter Steve Weigand obtained from Spencer when he called her family’s phone number during the shooting spree. This January the school board unceremoniously voted to unload the property. “Cleveland Elementary consists of 8.76 acres of an improved school site,” says the offering notice. “Currently it is being used by a charter school as a middle school.” The minimum price was set at $5.8 million, with final offers due last month.

Whether neighbors approve or not, greater densities may loom, based on an April 24 lobbyist disclosure filing by the Atlantis Group, run by Marcela Escobar-Eck. The controversial former city development director, who quit office in the aftermath of the Sunroad over-height building scandal during the Jerry Sanders mayoral era, represents an outfit called Pref Investment 41, LLC. The firm is seeking “timely and equitable processing of entitlements” from the city for developing the land. Lately Escobar-Eck has been most noted for her advocacy of Carmel Valley’s controversial One Paseo mega-development. That proposal, being put together by Los Angeles–based Kilroy Development, has been forced onto the ballot by a successful referendum drive bankrolled by Costa Mesa competitor Donahue Schriber.

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Comments
2

The Cleveland Elementary school community should be wary of any project associated with Marcela Escobar-Eck who has over-the-top Sunroad on her rap sheet, along with the recently contested grandiose and redundant One Paseo project in Carmel Valley.

The greater San Diego community should be raising hell with the elected School Board over its fire-sale vending of viable school properties. Escobar-Eck has long been associated with rapacious development practices; the School Board operates under cover of benign purpose but is no less venal.

May 6, 2015

The Lake Murray/Navajo/San Carlos area had three elementary schools up until about 1980. They were, in addition to Cleveland, Gage and Forward. As the homes were built and occupied in the area, all three of those schools were operating beyond their design capacities. That was the baby boom, but as the kids grew up but the houses stayed occupied by the same families, the enrollment dropped. The "baby bust" of the late 60's and early 70's didn't help. With its impeccable timing, SD city schools closed both Forward and Cleveland and consolidated the kids into Gage. That was just in time for the so-called "echo boom" of births that started in the late 70's, and for a large number of apartments to be built in the area. Cleveland was first leased to some parochial school, and Coleman College leased Forward to start a private elementary operation. Had it not been for the shooting, Cleveland might have stayed open for a time.

My take is that the Cleveland campus will never be needed by the city schools again, unless there is a large amount of multi-family construction in the area. Charter, private and parochial schools are all taking steadily greater numbers of kids out of the regular public schools, and that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. In fact, that campus probably should have been sold off ten or twenty years ago. But the school district just wasn't disposing of surplus or excess property for a very long time. More recently in fund-short times it has started to sell real estate to raise cash. And you can bet that politics and dirty deals will follow. The slobberin' school district seldom does anything right, and these property disposal sales will be no exception.

May 7, 2015

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