‘Pacific’ views differ among Encinitas mayoral candidates on property purchase

Gisela Lagos

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Among the candidates for mayor for Encinitas, there is no dispute that the old Pacific View School property should be used for the community and that it should stay out of developers’ hands, but there is a large discrepancy among the candidates’ opinions on how the city’s pledge to purchase it was handled.

Appraised at $4 million and $8 million, the City Council approved a budget that included a $10 million purchase of Pacific View.

Tony KranzMayoral candidate and current Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz spearheaded the communication between the city and the Encinitas Union School District to facilitate the negotiations and purchase of Pacific View.

“It’s an important part of the city’s history,” Kranz said.

Kranz voted for the purchase and worked hard before, during and after the city’s decision to make sure the purchase “didn’t die.”

Kristin GasparWhen the City Council discussed and voted on the price that allowed for the Pacific View purchase, incumbent Mayor Kristin Gaspar did not agree with it, but at the time she did emphasize that if the purchase was voted into budget, the council would move forward in a “united front.”

The council has moved forward on the deal, including discussions over the type of bonds that might be used to pay for the property.

Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir voted against the initial purchase agreement with the Encinitas Union School District and have been vocal critics of the process.

Mike BawanySimilar to mayoral candidates Alex Fidel and Mike Bawany, Gaspar said the purchase of Pacific View was done so at too high of a cost.

“I do not understand why they paid $10 million for it,” Bawany said, adding that the purchase of the property is also only a fraction of the investment that will have to be made to refurbish the property, which has many structural issues.

Gaspar’s main issue with the purchase of the property was that the budget that allowed the deal also reduced funding for basic core services, such as funds to improve the condition of Encinitas roads. Funds were allocated for servicing city roads in the budget, but the funds will not maintain the current street and road conditions, much less improve them.

Among the approximately 700 Encinitas residents who emailed the City Council during the budget discussions in support of the purchase, some called the property a legacy or heritage location in Encinitas, but candidate Fidel said he fears the only legacy that will be left to the residents will be debt.

Alex Fidel“It is the duty of every generation to reduce the debt,” Fidel said. “We are imposing debt for future generations.”

By the time a new mayor of Encinitas is elected and sworn into office, the Pacific View deal will likely have closed escrow, but as the candidates move forward in their campaigns, the backlash of the budgetary spending, which some see as excess, continues to cause controversy.

While the purchase is all but assured, the city is nowhere near the point of being able to decide how to move forward with building out the property. It may include rezoning, which brings with it a new set of issues, or the complete demolition of the current structures — all of which, each candidate agrees, will require large spending and the coming together of the community to push forward.

Fidel said he would like to see a different type of community engagement, where Encinitas would have risen up to stop the purchase completely by the city and developers equally.

“What we really need is for the people to rise up,” Fidel said, “because there isn’t enough political involvement.”

Candidate Sheila S. Cameron was not available for comment by this report’s deadline.

Gisela Lagos is a San Diego freelance writer

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