The Encinitas City Council has given its unanimous vote of confidence to the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance [EACEA] in its bid to become the Operating Partner of the Pacific View site. In its September 23 meeting, EACEA was chosen over five other applicants.
EACEA is a consortium of many local arts, culture and agriculturally oriented individuals and groups, many of whom turned out to show their solidarity and enthusiasm at the meeting. Represented by ecologist and building restorer Garth Murphy and Jon Humphrey from the Switchfoot organization, the group presented its concepts for the site and showcased four colorful artist’s renditions of their collective vision. Murphy noted that some artistic license has been taken because EACEA’s architectural plans are waiting to be completed until the city’s site drawings are finished. “But they give the feeling we are after,” he added.
The second group determined by city staff to be eligible for consideration was a joint effort between Radlab Designs and Sequoian Investments of San Diego, which had proposed an outdoor commercial, dining and entertainment venue. But no one from that group spoke at the meeting.
Several dozen prominent residents involved in the effort attended the meeting. Members of the rock group and local culture boosters Switchfoot, Encinitas Historical Society President Carolyn Cope, San Juan Capistrano Ecology Center Executive Director Evan Marks, Danny Salzhandler of the 101 Artists’ Colony and many others made appearances. Residents with homes close to Pacific View voiced general enthusiasm about EACEA’s plans.
Rusty Miller, America’s top-ranked surfer in 1965, arrived from Australia to support the effort. Miller also has the distinction of being a part of Pacific View’s first graduating class in 1953.
“There were a lot of representatives from the one local group and nobody from the other group,” Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear observed. “Which, in a way, makes this a really easy decision,” she laughed.
Director of Public Works Glenn Pruim introduced the two Pacific View agenda items with an informative PowerPoint presentation that can be downloaded here. Video of the Pacific View discussion is viewable here.
Also on the agenda were three nearly complete city-commissioned architectural concepts for the site grounds and buildings. The council unanimously approved the preliminary designs, which will serve as a reference document to be adapted by the eventual Operating Partner, but they asked that the Old Schoolhouse on the property, including its new ADA-compliant restroom, be more integrated into the plans.
Councilmembers praised the dedication and vision of EACEA and its ability to gather so many disparate interests under a single banner, but cautioned that there is much work to be done by the group in satisfying financing, zoning and neighborhood concerns as it prepares its full proposal.
They also noted that EACEA’s proposal is impressive and ambitious enough to transcend the original concept of interim use only. Councilmember Mark Muir advocated a more judicious planning and review process as a result.
Mayor Kristin Gaspar said that, while she disagreed with the purchase price, this was the first time she had felt excited about the potential of the Pacific View site. She praised the spirit of collaboration and wide variety of participants, and suggested that EACEA conduct a “road show” to garner “more community buy-in.”
Councilmember Tony Kranz, one of the principal architects of the Pacific View purchase which was disparaged by some who felt the city overpaid for the closed school, reflected on the decision. “We took a leap of faith. In seeing this proposal and hearing from the public tonight, we’ve taken a first big step towards validation of that leap of faith.”
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