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City meets to reassess the future of Pacific View

A special Encinitas City Council meeting was held at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center on Wednesday evening, January 29, to consider the path forward in transforming the former elementary school property into an arts center or other public-oriented facility.

The meeting was moved from City Hall to the less formal site “to have a more open-ended and wide-ranging conversation about where things are going,” according to Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

EACEA board members outlined their progress, observations, and suggestions at the January 29 meeting.
The Encinitas City Council and City Manager Karen Brust (far right) participated in the nearly three-hour special meeting.

Principals in the meeting were Blakespear and four city councilmembers, five board members from the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance, and city staff. About 70 members of the public attended, several of whom spoke at the meeting.

The non-profit EACEA has been working on a provisional basis to transform the former elementary school into a cultural center after being chosen by the Encinitas City Council in September, 2015 to administer the site. That agreement was incrementally extended through December 19, 2019 and was replaced by a 90-day Exclusive Negotiating Agreement that same day.

Acknowledging growing public impatience with the ambitious project’s slow pace of progress over the last four years, EACEA President John DeWald proposed that the city partner with his group to bring Pacific View to fruition. The city’s expertise and financial participation would help add direction and momentum, he suggested.

Former Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer cast the deciding vote to purchase the 2.8-acre bluffside Pacific View property in 2014, and served on its Activation Subcommittee with Councilmember Tony Kranz. At the January 29 meeting, she said she was still happy about her vote, and suggested that a community room similar to the one at the Encinitas Library be incorporated into plans for Pacific View’s future uses.

City councilmembers expressed support for Pacific View, but were cautious about jumping in without more information and community input.

In her February 2 newsletter, Mayor Blakespear described the meeting’s outcome. “At the end of the meeting, we decided to do a community survey, along with¬†outreach to nearby neighbors, to get a better sense of what specific activities the community desires on that property.

“Staff will also come back to us with information about the cost of getting the site up to minimum safety and occupancy standards so that there could be more¬†short-term uses that are within the currently allowed zoning.”

At a future joint city council meeting with the EACEA, the results of the survey, along with other financial, maintenance and zoning research data, will be considered and the next steps for Pacific View are scheduled to be decided.

An Encinitas Advocate story on the special meeting can be read here.