Pacific View sale had little impact on Encinitas election, backers say


With the sale now final, the city of Encinitas is set to look for ways to rehabilitate the Pacific View School property, shown March 27. (North Coast Current file photo)

Gisela Lagos

The recently completed sale of the Pacific View School property was seen as a hot-button topic leading up to last month’s election, but even some among those who were unabashedly for its sale to the city said the topic probably didn’t play that large a role for Encinitas voters.

“If Pacific View hadn’t been an issue, I think the votes would probably have fallen along the same lines,” said Scott Chatfield of Save Pacific View, a grassroots effort that spearheaded the push for Encinitas to buy the property.

The city officially bought the property for $10 million in late November from the Encinitas Union School District with funds from a $13 million bond sale.

In the race for Encinitas mayor and City Council, each candidate was asked about their stance on the Pacific View School purchase several times. It was portrayed in local media as a hot topic and was brought up during the three candidate forums, as well as during private events. The candidates were happy to share their views with constituents as well as media outlets.

For Catherine Blakespear, who won her race for a seat on the Encinitas City Council, the Pacific View School property is “a reflection on the importance of (Encinitas) history.”

She likened the site to the library property that was redeveloped by the city and said the price of the property was worth the investment to maintain the historic richness of the city.

“It would have been a tragedy to lose it to private development,” Blakespear said.

She described herself as passionately for the purchase of the property, but also said she believed that had the Pacific View site not been an issue during the November election, the results would have probably been the same.

Likewise, Chatfield, whose efforts helped bring attention to the Pacific View School property purchase and who supported candidates who were for the city’s purchase, said he didn’t believe the issue was much of a factor in the election outcome.

“In hindsight, the outcome was fairly predictable,” Chatfield observed.

The candidates for mayor and City Council who were elected focused on a breadth of issues during their run. Blakespear said she believes the diversity off issues, rather than one specific topic, were more of an impact for voters. Issues such as an urban farming ordinance and the legalization of marijuana dispensaries in city limits, which cross partisan lines for Encinitas residents, were also a factor for constituents.

Currently, the Pacific View School property purchase is moving along better than expected, Tim Nash, Encinitas finance director, said in an email, where he explained that the conditions of repayment for the purchase would be $25,000 less per year than expected.

Without formal poling the specifics as to why Encinitas residence voted the way they did cannot be known.

In addition to Blakespear’s victory, current Mayor Kristin Gaspar was voted in as the city’s first elected mayor.

Now that the bond sale is finalized, the City Council will work to create an interim use for the site and create a permanent use for the space.

In mid-October, Gaspar told the North Coast Current that while she did not agree with the purchase because it wasn’t fiscally prudent, the council would move forward in a “united front.”

Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said she sees an opportunity in the property being a vital public space for Encinitas.

“It will take leadership to transform the Pacific View School site into a vibrant public space that further enhances our downtown and provides much needed facilities to our enormous local arts community,” Shaffer said.

Gisela Lagos is a San Diego freelance writer