LETTER: Pacific View procurement plan for operating partner cuts public short

I own the property at 643 Fourth St. in Encinitas, across from the Old Schoolhouse on the former EUSD Pacific View school site. My attorney Felix Tinkov and I have submitted written inputs and testified at almost every Pacific View meeting, since the first before the Planning Commission in July 2008.

At its Wednesday, April 8, meeting, the City Council will consider a procurement for an operating partner to take control of Pacific View.

Regrettably, the city plan cuts the residents short for education in the arts, at the expense of benefitting various local art groups.

Moreover, the city proposes to violate the municipal code in order to make this happen.

For Pacific View, the city plan recommends the principal use as a museum, which does not require a conditional use permit. Thereby, the city avoids a public hearing before the Planning Commission, as well as skipping the attendant due-process noticing to nearby residents.

The proposed museum has no validity as a principal use, but serves as a front, cover or façade, to permit uses prohibited by code in the public/semi-public (P/SP) zone applicable to Pacific View. The “museum” principal use also shields accessory uses, such as the farmers market and outdoor events, from scrutiny at public hearings for the use permit process.

The city plan proposes a number of accessory uses under the “museum” blanket, among them 1) farmers market, 2) cafe*, 3) artists’ studios*, 4) store sales of artists’ works*, and 5) outdoor musical events. The municipal code prohibits the asterisked uses for the P/SP zone. The farmers’ market and the open-air theater require use permits.

The municipal code requires the accessory uses to be “necessarily and customarily associated with” the principal use, in this case a museum. For example, a farmers market neither meets the “necessary” nor the “customary” standards. In a letter submitted to the city council, attorney Felix Tinkov identifies which of the Pacific View accessory uses will violate the municipal code.

More significantly, the municipal code also requires the accessory uses to be “incidental” to the principal use. The staff report for the April 8 hearing resorts to a euphemism for describing the principal use as “a museum to reflect the historical aspects of the site,” the latter being the Pacific View school site. Thus, the principal-use museum comprises the existing Old Schoolhouse and its archives, and nothing more. Obviously, the accessory uses in the 10,000-square-foot buildings and on the 75,000-square-foot parking lot will totally eclipse this 1,000-square-foot “museum,” designated as the principal use.

Bottom line, the accessory uses will take most of the building floor area, rent free, greatly benefiting the artists, but providing little for the residents regarding education in the arts. The April 8 staff report employs another euphemism to describe the art education offered to the public as “features to enable the public to observe and learn about the activities being undertaken.”

At the February 11 council meeting on Pacific View, the staff report acknowledged the artists’ studios as visual entertainment for the public, namely, “where you could see amazing art created by local artists who you could also watch as they create their works.”

Presumably, it will not please taxpayers to pay $15 million-plus in mortgage and interest payments to provide a home for artists to conduct their businesses, with the residents merely reduced to entertainments, such as the farmers market already operating on Vulcan Avenue, outdoor musical events and watching artists work.

Don McPherson
Manhattan Beach
April 6, 2015

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