Matt Potter 8:22 p.m., March 19
San Diego Unified Looks to Sell Properties
For San Diego Unified, desperate times call for drastic budget measures.
Officials at San Diego Unified are searching to bridge next year's projected $120 million budget shortfall and avoid laying off thousands of teachers and employees.
On May 29, boardmembers will consider filling some of the gap by selling seven properties for $25 million.
The properties on the selling block include: Barnard Elementary School (aerial shot above), appraised last year at over $9 million; Bay Terrace 11, valued at $3 million; Camp Elliot in Tierrasanta, for as much as $4 million; three single-family lots in Linda Vista, totaling $900,000; and the Mission Beach Center, probably the most sought after parcel of the bunch, located one block from the bay and two blocks to the beach, at $7.8 million.
While all boardmembers agree that cash is needed, not everyone is onboard with the plan to begin liquidating assets.
Longtime taxpayer advocate and school board vice president Scott Barnett feels that selling the properties would be foolish, especially in today's real estate market.
"It's kind of like selling off your furniture to pay the mortgage," says Barnett. "We have some of the best real estate in Southern California, and we don't have any debt on it."
Instead, Barnett believes the district should lease the properties for joint-use development projects, ones that would not only benefit the district but also bring smart development projects or parks to communities.
"The district would then receive ongoing revenues and not just be selling land to some developer who will just build whatever they want and we would be out of the picture.
"We need to look at long-term solutions. The problem is you do it one time and the next year you have the same hole in the budget with no land to sell. This should be done in a planned way instead of this 'act of desperation,' doing fire sales to fund ongoing expenses."
But, so far, Barnett says he is the only boardmember to come out against the proposal. He hopes at least one of his colleagues will join him to block the sale of the properties.
The board will hear the item at a May 29 meeting.