What to do with Pacific View: Arts supporters, activists optimistic but quiet about Encinitas site’s future


Student-made mosaics can be found at the old Pacific View School site in Encinitas, now owned by the city. Arts groups and community activists are expressing optimism about the future of the property. (File photo by Scott Allison)

Gisela Lagos

With almost 70 arts groups, Encinitas boasts the second-largest arts community in San Diego County, and the direction of the city-owned Pacific View site promises to be a welcome addition for arts supporters throughout the community.

“Encinitas is a growing city,” said Commissioner Naimeh Tanha, with the Commission of the Arts, “yet they have no place to showcase (large) performers.”

Currently, arts performances are being held at the library and other smaller venues, but Tanha envisions a city-owned arts venue that will provide a home for artists, performers and arts education.

The Commission of the Arts and other arts organizations support the progress being made by the City Council. The city bought the long-closed elementary school property from the Encinitas Union School District last year after a community effort was launched to keep it in public hands.

“For one, hopefully not brief, shining moment everyone seemed on board and everyone seemed to want to get this thing done in the right way,” said Scott Chatfield, founder of Save Pacific View (savepacificview.org).

During the Feb. 11 City Council meeting, the council members voted unanimously, after some negotiating, to designate the Pacific View land for an “arts, education and community gathering place with an emphasis on theaters, museums, education, outdoor sales/swap meets and park/recreation space.”

Student-made mosaics can be found at the old Pacific View School site in Encinitas, now owned by the city. (File photo by Scott Allison)
Student-made mosaics can be found at the old Pacific View School site in Encinitas, now owned by the city. (File photo by Scott Allison)

The motion also instructed city staff members to move forward with advertising and make a recommendation for an architectural firm to create preliminary plans for renovation of the site. The City Council also asked the Commission of the Arts to move swiftly, yet judiciously, in creating the City of Encinitas Arts Master Plan, which will include the larger-scope plan for the Pacific View site.

Most organizations interested in assisting with the renovation or presenting their plans to the City Council are not sharing their individual visions for the Pacific View site, but there is a general optimism since the council’s vote.

Organizations such as the Coastal Communities Concert Band, Friends of the Arts, Intrepid Shakespeare Company, Engage Encinitas and Arts Alive Encinitas have all expressed an interest in supporting and, in some cases, eventually presenting proposals to the City Council.

The member-funded Friends of the Arts works directly with the Commission of the Arts and serves as a nonprofit branch for education, advocacy and fundraising. Tanha, who is also a Friends of the Arts donor, said the group is ready to move forward with fundraising and support efforts as soon as the commission and the council give further direction, but also said that it’s too early to know in what capacity it would be able to help.

Like other organizations, Engage Encinitas is waiting for the planning phase to progress before it can determine its involvement in the Pacific View development.

“One of Engage Encinitas’ goals is to provide opportunities for public discussion on issues of interest to the community,” organization President Teresa Barth wrote. “Pacific View will most likely be a topic for future discussion. Engage Encinitas may assist with volunteer events and/or fundraising activities in support of Pacific View. However, the role the organization will have in regards to Pacific View has yet to be determined.”

For now, the Pacific View site has groups that are ready and able to serve as advocates to the community and to assist in fundraising efforts, but the vision for the interim and long-term plan for the site has yet to be developed, and until then, the groups are waiting in the wings.

Gisela Lagos is a San Diego freelance writer