Council decides on Leo Mullen lights, Pacific View site agreements

At its Nov. 16 meeting, the Encinitas City Council took steps toward resolution in a pair of situations that have been the subject of citywide debate in recent months.

First, the Council agreed to a draft of a compliance agreement that would allow the Encinitas Express soccer club to put up temporary lights at Leo Mullen Sports Park.

Next, the City Council approved three separate actions, which are all related to possible future consideration of a lease for the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance (EACEA) at the Pacific View School site. The three actions included extending the current right-of-entry agreement until July of 2018; authorizing the Mayor to execute an exclusive negotiating agreement with the EACEA; and authorizing the EACEA to proceed with seeking entitlements on city property.

Together, the three actions allow the EACEA and the city to take the next steps in the long process of opening an arts center at the site.

The agreement for the lights at Leo Mullen came after the Council told the soccer club earlier this year that it had to remove the gas-powered portable lights that it had been using in the park for 13 years.

The temporary lights were a casualty from when the club and the surrounding homeowners from the adjacent Cambria at Encinitas Ranch neighborhood sparred over putting up permanent lights at Leo Mullen. It was discovered during that process that the Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan (ERSP) prohibited lights at the park.

Most of those issues were worked out at the Oct. 19 Council meeting, when the Council members agreed to pursue the process of amending the ERSP and pushing through applications for the proper permits for permanent lights at Leo Mullen Sports Park.

The city recently paid $1 million for artificial turf at the same park.

During that Oct. 19 discussion, the Council directed City Attorney Glenn Sabine to draft an agreement to restore the temporary lights.

Created in conjunction with the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department, the agreement includes mentions that cost and risk will be assumed by the Express, the height shall not exceed 30 feet and that the lights should be off at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 p.m. on Saturday, among other smaller details.

David Demian, the attorney for the Cambria homeowners, asked the Council to include in the agreement actions toward several concessions that had been agreed upon at the Oct. 19 meeting, most notably planting trees for light mitigation and installation of a couple of gates for safety of residents.

Pursuant to that request, the Council’s motion not only approved the original draft agreement, but also directed staff to go forward with a tree-planting plan and a plan for installation of locking gates. Those plans will be created by staff and brought back to the Council.

Following that item, the Council agreed to the three actions recommended by staff regarding the Pacific View site.

Mayor Kristin Gaspar explained that the actions were “a real win-win.”

“It allows the Alliance to do what it needs to do in demonstrating that it has control over that site so that it can go out and fundraise to major donors,” Gaspar said.

During his public comment on the issue, EACEA President Garth Murphy announced that the Alliance had just secured a donation of $150,000 from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The city of Encinitas purchased the Pacific View School site from the Encinitas Union School District for $10 million in December of 2014, then solicited for an operating partner and eventually selected the EACEA in September of 2015 as a group that could submit more detailed plans.

Recently, the EACEA’s vision for the site has been described as creating a vibrant, cultural and intellectual arts and ecology center that is operationally self-sustaining and provides economic benefit to the community and beautifies the neighborhood.

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