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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.

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monaghan May 3, 2012 @ 8:21 p.m.

Thank you for publicizing this story which has been kept under wraps by the School District itself. I have heard that the MISSION BEACH property is adjacent to a parcel owned by a relative of developer Malin Burnham. Is there any truth to this? Surely there is one other School Board member who will vote No along with Scott Barnett to this giveaway. Any School District property sale must have four votes to pass.


Visduh May 4, 2012 @ 8:42 a.m.

No school district should hold surplus property. If there is no plan for using a piece of real estate, it should be sold. This speculation in real estate is not the business or role of a school district. Sure, making a killing in RE speculation puts money into the district, but at what cost? School districts are supposed to know how to educate, not speculate. Real estate is loaded with pitfalls and potential for losses. Recently the little Encinitas school district has been struggling with a blufftop school site it says it no longer needs, trying to make some sort of killing on its sale or lease, while keeping the neighbors from revolting. The years drag by, and nothing happens.


seaportcynthia May 7, 2012 @ 2:50 p.m.

Thank you Dorian for this info., but apparently, it is still 'incorrect.' Barnard's Entire property was recommended for 'sale,' at the April 24th Board Meeting, not "a portion" of it. Who did you speak to? Phil Stover or Bernie Rhinerson? The 'new appraisal' price of $9 million for a 9. something-acre property in a 'Residential' Zone, in the Coastal area of San Diego is still severely Underestimated..even when appraised at nearly DOUBLE what the board had originally 'heard' its value was...only $5 million, which would have put the price per sq. ft. at $12.50!! For Residentially-zoned, with 4.5 acres 'Vacant' of 'improved' Coastal Property? Yes, the 'appraisal value' is Up, but still, is only equal to an Industrial-Zoned Public Property, with a HUGE White Elephant on it, the U.S. Post Office on Midway Drive (recently re-appraised at "$1 million/acre")...and Barnard is Still in the Midway District, Not "Loma Portal." Let's see, as a decades-experienced local REALTOR -would you think that 'residentially-zoned' (adjacent to Multiple-Residential-zoned units) real estate is 'equal' to the value for 'industrial-zoned property'? No, of course not. So Why is the District listening to such 'poppy-cock?' Is there some other reason why 'Midway' Coastal properties are being 'down-valued' so much? Could it be because the 'Charger's owners' want to 'down value' the sale of the Sports Arena property again, to 'benefit their new stadium' downtown? The school district and it's 'leaders' better get their heads out of the 'real estate money-making business' and get down to Real Planning for the near future Huge Student Population coming soon..it's already going to force up the number of 'students per class' to over 45 in grades 4-8...also as delineated in their 'request to the CA State Ed Board for Waiver of Penalty' for such! They expect it? Is this something that San Diego's Parents are 'OK' with? I think NOT!


Getitstraight May 7, 2012 @ 3:57 p.m.

Visduh, The district should own surplus property and make it work for the education of our children by leasing them out for a long-term income stream and budget solution. This should be encouraged by the public because when the education system isn't self sufficient, it's the tax payers who end up footing the bill through bonds instead. My friend operates a Charter School and is on some waiting list with hundreds of other private schools wanting to lease closed City schools.

Neighbors, send the school district a message and voice your oposition to more apartments and less parking by our homes. Don't let them tear down our new library they built at Barnard with Prop MM tax payer money. My kids walk to school and don't want to be bused to another school where they won't know anyone; that is if there will be a bus to take them!

Dorian I also heard it was the whole school site from the Principal and your map is off center and you can't see the land you are referring to, is this part of the cover-up? Has anyone asked why this is happening so fast? Are deep developer pockets in the back pockets of the board members?


Robert Mizrachi May 7, 2012 @ 5:30 p.m.

The bit about "a lot adjacent to Barnard Elementary School" was an error introduced during editing. (Sorry, Dorian!) Whether or not the vacant lot next to Barnard is for sale is unknown.


seaportcynthia July 14, 2015 @ 10:56 a.m.

Too bad few listened to this...the properties in the Coastal Zone closed at substantially higher prices, but as Chris Brewster said in another article, "if you put your house on the market and you receive immediate offers at that price (or higher), you know you could have gotten more." The FACT is, when I called several local home builders (In SD County), After I sent in comps to the interim CFO that showed the 'real values' of Mission Bay and Barnard, Zero of the 'local builders' I contacted even Knew about the Auction Sale! The Fact that the District had gotten an 'appraisal' from a company that works (a lot) with Builders (and who probably informed them of the auction) quite a few of the 'out of state' builders who bid (also) on the property, tells me that the 'auction' was Not well publicized, was 'planned' for out of town builders (and investors) to benefit from. Sad. And few will remember this until the numbers of students in the beach areas starts to climb unreasonably as the baby boom echo generation's (now beginning to hit the preschools) children hit kindergarten.


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