Mission Beach school property wins reprieve; $16.5M sale shelved by SDUSD
by Mariko Lamb
Oct 25, 2012 | 4618 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This San Diego Unified School District property at 825 Santa Barbara Place in Mission Beach was initially slated to be sold by the Board of Education, but the site was removed from the list. A bid of $16.5 million for the property was made to the district by San Francisco-based Carmel Partners, LLC.                                                     Photo by Don Balch I Beach & Bay Press
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The former Mission Beach Elementary School campus property — a more than two-acre bayside property in the heart of Mission Beach — was taken off the sales chopping block at the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) board’s Oct. 9 meeting, much to the satisfaction of the Mission Bay Cluster and SDUSD beach-area representative Scott Barnett.

“We are grateful to the Board of Education for recognizing [the property’s] value for future generations,” said Jennifer Tan-dy, chairwoman of the Mission Bay Cluster. “We completely understand the continuing fi-nancial difficulties within the district, but we also understand the finality of the sale of that property. When SDUSD officials purchased or allocated this land to public education many years ago, it was with the intent to educate our public or generate ongoing revenue to support education.”

The school board voted to sell the prime parcel of real estate in June, along with four other SDUSD-owned properties, in an attempt to help plug a

$26.7 million hole in the district’s impending $120 million deficit in the coming school year.

“The Mission Bay Elementary School property is one of the most remarkable properties in the world with its proximity to the beach and the bay,” said Barnett. “While using proceeds from sales of property for one-time maintenance and other one-time needs — as opposed to using funds for ongoing expenditures —is appropriate, I ideally feel that we need to do everything we can to maintain ownership.”

Both the local school cluster and Barnett have pushed for adaptive reuse of the now-vacant site with an aim of generating a steady stream of long-term revenue for the school district.

“While we must keep an eye on the fact that we will be consistently in need of revenues for our schools, we also want to be good neighbors and fit in with the community,” said Barnett. “By retaining ownership, we can limit what the developer would propose on a site, as well as receive long-term ongoing revenue streams.”

The top bid for the Mission Beach property, which was initially expected to rake in a minimum of $11 million, was bid at $16.5 million by the San Francisco-based Carmel Partners, LLC.

Two properties which the board did vote to sell — a nine-acre parcel at Barnard Elementary School’s campus in Point Loma and nearly seven acres of vacant land at Bay Terrace in Clairemont — is expect $3.1 million, respectively, in property sales.

With the Mission Beach property off the market, SDUSD will have to make more tough decisions to help fill the massive 2012-13 school year budget shortfall.

The funds must be available by

June 30, 2013 in order to count toward next year’s budget.

“The current year 2012-13 budgeted shortfall from real estate sales is approximately $4 to $5 million after the sale of the two other properties,” said Barnett. “There is a smaller property in East Elliott, which my guess will have four [board] votes to sell in November or December. That would fill the current hole.”

As for the Mission Beach site, a number of options are available to the community by retaining ownership, said Barnett.

“The ideal goal is to work with private developers to enter into a joint-occupancy agreement to develop properties with appropriate private uses, including public uses, such as a park, parking or community meeting rooms,” Barnett said.

Other ideas for the site range from public-private partnerships for high-density apartments, a luxury boutique hotel or high-end condos or town houses — all with varying degrees of impact to the community and rates of return, said Barnett.

The decision must be a community-minded one, he said.

“My No. 2 priority as a school board member — after pushing for the highest quality education for our kids — is to deal with the financial nightmare we are facing for the foreseeable future and try to develop long term, local, consistent revenues which cannot be taken away by the state,” he said.

“I am convinced we can do so while being a good neighbor and adding public benefits and uses to a joint development with the private sector,” Barnett added.
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