The Encinitas City Council unanimously agreed March 12 to seek a last-ditch meeting with the Encinitas Union School District before a planned auction of the shuttered Pacific View Elementary School property.
The action came a day after residents converged on a school board meeting to call for the district to sell the property to the city rather than auction it March 25. The City Council also agreed to ask the district to postpone the sale if the meeting can’t be scheduled before the auction.
More than 500 emails have been sent to the city and school district in an effort to keep the school site in public hands. The effort carried over to the City Council meeting March 12, during which 11 residents spoke about the property’s civic and historical importance.
“Take the high road. Figure out a way to reach out to these people before this deadline. And earnestly engage them before the auction, and then reach a compromise,” SavePacificView.org organizer Scott Chatfield told the City Council.
Artist Deanne Sabeck also reflected the call for positive negotiations, although she expressed concern about what the community stands to lose if the coastal parcel enters private ownership.
“If we could just buy some time to look at some opportunities; I know that there’s ways to partner with the private sector on this,” Sabeck said.
Another speaker, Andrew Audet, suggested that the city file an injunction requiring the school district to offer the property under the Naylor Act, which mandates that other public agencies have the first opportunity to purchase a dormant school property before it’s put up for sale otherwise. Exactly how the Naylor Act applies in the case of Pacific View has been a source of debate.
The call for a city-district meeting was sparked by an agenda item added by Councilman Tony Kranz, who crafted a letter to send to the school district in reply to one posted by EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird. The district, city and residents have differing interpretations on the progress and tone of past discussions.
In considering Kranz’s letter, Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar suggested it be more positive in tone.
“Several of the speakers talked about fostering cooperation with the school district,” Gaspar said. “I do believe there are several things in here that will be taken in an inflammatory way by the (school) board.”
In addition to changes in wording, Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer called for the additional meeting between the city and district before the March 25 auction.
Kranz said he agreed with the changes, and said the City Council should do everything it can to have one more meeting with the school district.
The meeting is preliminarily set for March 19. If the meeting can’t be held before the auction March 25, the city is asking for a postponement of the auction.