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Encinitas Candidates Weigh In on Pacific View

City Council Hears PV Update Tonight

The Encinitas City Council will hear an update on the activation of the Pacific View site during tonight’s meeting at City Hall. Listed on the agenda as Informational Item 11B, the update will be presented by City Manager Karen Brust. No vote will be taken at this meeting, but the Council is expected to vote on the proposed lease of the property to the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance in November.


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SavePacificView.org asked each of the seven candidates for Encinitas Mayor and City Council to state where they stand on the acquisition and transformation of Pacific View into a public arts center. Their responses are listed by office and in alphabetical order as they were received, with no edits.


Catherine Blakespear, Encinitas Mayor candidate (City Council incumbent)blakespear_100

  1. Did you support the Encinitas City Council’s decision to purchase the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

Yes

  1. Do you support and will you assist in the transformation of the site into a public facility, such as an arts center? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

Yes

  1. Comments:

This Pacific View investment will provide us with another community gem — a thriving arts center. Creating gathering places like the Encinitas Library, the Senior and Community Center, and the new Encinitas Community Park, all required commitment, city money and political courage. All of these properties were considered too expensive at the time. Now, these places contribute to Encinitas’ ongoing vitality and livability – they’re part of our paradise.

If we had let this unique community treasure slip away to development, it would have been lost forever. This irreplaceable parcel, originally gifted to us in 1883 Mr. J. Pitcher, would have become another high-end subdivision. And that’s after a long, contentious, divisive battle over zoning, and the likely lawsuits that would have accompanied that battle.

Pacific View is 2.8 acres of bluff-top property in the heart of downtown Encinitas, walking distance from the beach and Self Realization Fellowship, with tremendous historic and sentimental value for thousands of Encinitas families who attended school there. The wide divergence in appraised value for the property is partly based on the lack of comparable parcels, and partly based on the zoning. Residentially zoned property is clearly worth more than property zoned public/semi-public, which is the zoning category for a school.

The suggestion by other candidates for office that somehow they could have gotten the property for several million dollars less if they had been at the table just doesn’t hold water. It is naïve and simplistic to believe that the various negotiating partners used by the city were incompetent. Pacific View had been vacated for 10 years – and the city and the school district had a series of failed negotiation attempts until 2014, when the exasperated school district finally put the property up for auction to the highest bidder.

Land use decisions are the most important choices we make in local elected office. It could be argued that there is no better use of city money than to buy land. It’s an investment for the future in more ways than one – we can enjoy it or sell it for a profit if the need ever arises.

Did we get a great deal on Pacific View? No. Did we pay fair price for a property whose value to the community is higher than appraised value? Yes. If we wanted to zone that property residential and sell it tomorrow, I’m sure we could easily get more than $10 million for it. But the point is, we don’t want to sell that property. We want to turn it into a public arts center.

At the City Council, we aim to invest in the diversity of our community. We recently put over $1 million into turf at Leo Mullen Sports Park for the city’s 3,000 soccer players and their families; we’ve tripled the amount of money devoted to paving city streets, upgrading all of the city’s failing roads; we recently opened a new 44-acre community park in Cardiff, we’re actively engaging the community in planning in the rail corridor and we’re building a new lifeguard and marine safety tower at Moonlight Beach.

I wasn’t on the City Council when it voted to buy the Pacific View property, but I’m grateful to the three city leaders, including current Council Member Tony Kranz, who had the courage in making this investment to preserve our paradise.

Buying Pacific View was an investment and a commitment to the arts community that is a vital segment of our prosperous city. More than 80 arts groups call Encinitas home. The diverse group of organizations that came together to lease the Pacific View space is a testament to the enormous appeal of the Pacific View site.

I look forward to taking my family there, along with thousands of other Encinitans, and am happy to know that our Pacific View will always be there for future generations to enjoy.


Paul Gaspar, Encinitas Mayor candidategaspar_100

  1. Did you support the Encinitas City Council’s decision to purchase the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

Yes and No.  Yes, I did support the Council’s first ‘best and final’ offer to purchase the property for $4.3 Million.  No, I did not support the City’s last minute offer of $10,000,000.

  1. Do you support and will you assist in the transformation of the site into a public facility, such as an arts center? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

Yes

  1. Comments:

It is unfortunate that the City Council’s decision to pay $10,000,000 for Pacific View has put the City in a position making it much more difficult for the Coalition to turn Pacific View into something we can all enjoy in the near future.  I plan to use my vast experience in the private and public sector to help this project along and, of course, I will offer my assistance with any physical labor required to renovate the site.


Tasha Boerner Horvath, Encinitas City Council candidateboerner-horvath_100

  1. Did you support the Encinitas City Council’s decision to purchase the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

YES

  1. Do you support and will you assist in the transformation of the site into a public facility, such as an arts center? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

YES

  1. Comments:

I am thankful the Council saved a key property in our Coastal Zone near our downtown area for public use. I am very proud of our community for bringing together a group of creative minds that will lead this center. It is the job of the next City Council to make sure that Pacific View transforms into the thriving arts center that will be a benefit to our community, spur compatible economic growth and keep the creative spirit of Encinitas for the next generations.

I will be proud to support and assist in making this arts center the best that it can be, personally through my network with parents and as the former VP of Programs at Paul Ecke Central PTA, professionally, through my marketing and communications background and and, hopefully, as a member of the Encinitas City Council.


Tony Brandenburg, Encinitas City Council candidatebrandenburg_100

  1. Did you support the Encinitas City Council’s decision to purchase the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

I did not support the purchase of Pacific View by the city   The cost was out of line. However now that it’s done and completed I believe we should all get on board and work to see the project is successful

  1. Do you support and will you assist in the transformation of the site into a public facility, such as an arts center? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

[No response]

  1. Comments:

[No response]


Philip Graham, Encinitas City Council candidategraham_100

  1. Did you support the Encinitas City Council’s decision to purchase the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

IF I WOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE COUNCIL AT THE TIME, NO I WOULDN’T HAVE SUPPORTED THE OVERPAYING FOR THE PROPERTY WITH NO STRATEGY TO MAKE IT A SUCCESS. AS A TAXPAYER AND RESIDENT OF ENCINITAS FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS, I AM VERY CONCERNED THAT OUR TAX DOLLARS ARE NOT BEING USED PRUDENTLY AND RESPONSIBLY.

  1. Do you support and will you assist in the transformation of the site into a public facility, such as an arts center? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

NOW THAT OUR TAX DOLLARS HAVE BEEN USED TO BUY THE SITE, I’M DEDICATED TO MAKE IT THE BEST PUBLIC FACILITY POSSIBLE. IN ORDER TO DO SO, A LOT OF WORK STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE BEFORE WE PAID FOR THE PROPERTY IN THE FIRST PLACE.

  1. Comments:

WITH SO MANY CRITICAL THINGS THAT NEED TO BE FUNDED IN ENCINITAS, I CAN ENSURE THE VOTERS THAT I WILL BE THE COUNCILPERSON WHO LOOKS OUT FOR THEIR INTERESTS WHEN IT COMES TO PROTECTING THEIR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS.


Tony Kranz, Encinitas City Council candidate (incumbent)kranz_100

  1. Did you support the Encinitas City Council’s decision to purchase the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

Yes

  1. Do you support and will you assist in the transformation of the site into a public facility, such as an arts center? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

Yes

  1. Comments:

My three kids attended Pacific View School in the years just before the school district shut it down. Their schooldays there were special, with walking field trips to the shores of the ocean or Cottonwood Creek, playground activities with a view of the Pacific and their 6th grade plays performed on a small stage on the west side of the campus.

When the school district decided that they could manage student enrollment without Pacific View School and that selling the land would provide important financial resources to the district, they began a formal process defined under state law to declare the school “surplus.” As time went on, I thought the only appropriate thing to do for such an important part of downtown was for the city to purchase the property. As the politics played out and the school district sued the city over the city’s obligation under state law to rezone the property residential, I was frustrated with the remarkable waste of time and money that was going towards resolving the conflict. So while the lawyers were paid to file and defend lawsuits, the school became an eyesore.

Then I was elected to the city council. One thing I wanted to do right away was to work with my colleagues to make the first effort for the city to purchase the property. I was appointed to serve with Mayor Teresa Barth on a council subcommittee to try and negotiate a purchase price with two school board members, Carol Skiljan and Marla Strich. Considering the long history of uncooperative relations between the city and school district about Pacific View, they responded to our first offer—which was very low—by announcing they were going to break of negotiations and sell the land at public auction.

Undaunted, I kept at it, and through a series of steps we made a “last, best and final offer” in an effort to get the school to cancel the public auction. The offer of $10 million was between a city appraisal of $7.3 million (based upon the current zoning) and a previous school district appraisal of $13.5 million (based upon a rezoning to mixed use).

The school district accepted the offer and the city has owned the property since 2014. For the last year, the city has been working with a group of local residents who are dedicated to cleaning the site and doing whatever repairs are necessary to resume the use of the existing buildings. Their plan is to raise money through philanthropic channels and obtain outside governmental grants, plus use volunteerism to do the work.

I’m confident that the vision of turning Pacific View School into a first-rate public gathering place dedicated to the arts and ecology on the west edge of downtown will eventually be accomplished. Government works slower than I would like, but we are making steady progress. For me, it is nice to know that a piece of Encinitas history, land that was donated to the community in the 1880’s for educational purposes, will continue to be used for that for generations to come.


Mark Muir, Encinitas City Council candidate (incumbent)muir_100

  1. Did you support the Encinitas City Council’s decision to purchase the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District in 2014? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

I LIKED THE VISION AND CONCEPT OF THE ORIGINAL PLAN. BUT I DID NOT SUPPORT PAYING THAT HIGH OF A PRICE. MONEY THAT COULD’VE ACTUALLY BEEN USED TO DEVELOP THE ART’S FACILITY.

  1. Do you support and will you assist in the transformation of the site into a public facility, such as an arts center? (Please answer yes or no, reserving comments for Question 3.)

YES, IF FUNDING IS AVAILABLE AND IT’S SUPPORTED BY OUR COMMUNITY.  AS A RESIDENT, I PLAN TO VOLUNTEER TIME AND DONATE MONEY TO ASSIST IN MAKING THIS ARTS FACILITY A COMMUNITY REALITY.

  1. Comments:

I SUPPORT THE LOCAL ARTS AND I OPPOSE PAYING 10 MILLION DOLLARS FOR A PARCEL THAT WAS APPRAISED AT 3.3 MILLION.  THE ASKING PRICE WAS 9.5 MILLION (YES, WE PAID OVER 3 TIMES THE APPRAISED VALUE AND $500,000 OVER THE ASKING PRICE).  WE COULD HAVE NEGOTIATED A MUCH BETTER DEAL OR AT THE VERY LEAST, PAID THE ASKING PRICE AND INVESTED THE BALANCE INTO THE START OF A FANTASTIC ARTS CENTER.  WITH THAT SAID, WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO ACCOMPLISH THE VISION OF AN ARTS FACILITY.  ONE WE CAN ALL BE PROUD OF AND ONE THAT OUR COMMUNITY APPRECIATES AND ENJOYS.


SavePacificView.org stays on top of developments and sends email updates when new Pacific View events occur. You’re invited to stay up-to-date on Pacific View news by joining the SavePacificView.org email list here. Your name and email address will only be used by SavePacificView.org.


Here’s the short video that helped Save Pacific View back in February, 2014:

 

Pacific-View-Web-01

The historic Pacific View property as it appeared before the City of Encinitas purchased it in 2014.

Comments (2)

  1. No Rail Trail

    Blakespear Kranz and Shaffer want to lease this property to an organization that is run by Blakespear’s campaign manager for $1 a year. This organization has no money for any improvements but gets to control a $10 million property. How does this even happen?

  2. SavePacificView.org

    Chris, with all due respect, it looks like you’ve been getting your “facts” from the Seaside Courier. You ask “How does this even happen?” The answer is, it doesn’t.

    I founded SavePacificView.org in February, 2014 to stop the auction of the Pacific View property by the school district. In the course of that successful effort, I met Catherine Blakespear and we ended up working very well together (along with hundreds of other passionate residents) to keep the site from going condo. Soon afterward, I helped her in her run for City Council and this year she asked me to manage her campaign for Mayor.

    Perhaps you’re confusing SavePacificView.org with the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance, a 501c3 non-profit that hopes to administer the Pacific View arts facility.

    SavePacificView.org doesn’t accept donations and our only expenses are a website and email newsletter. We’re just a loosely knit grassroots group dedicated to seeing Pacific View become something wonderful.

    By design, we’re not affiliated with any other organization. We’re unabashedly pro-Pacific View, but also fiercely independent. My background is in journalism, so we’ve worked hard to faithfully chronicle the process as it happens. I know no more about the EACEA’s potential lease than anyone else who reads the news, and I’m certainly not advocating for any specific plan.

    Hope this helps clarify things for you!

    –Scott Chatfield, SavePacificView.org

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