Subcommittee floats interim museum at Pacific View

An Encinitas City Council subcommittee wants to turn the Pacific View site into a museum while a long-term plan for the property is developed.

The subcommittee, made up of councilmembers Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer, is tasked with recommending future uses for the property, which the city bought from the Encinitas Union School District for $10 million last spring. They called their proposal a “museum of art, history and culture.”

“We looked at museums around the country and world and many of them include things like galleries, classes and artists-in-residence,” Shaffer said. “Museum doesn’t just mean a static room with things hanging on the wall or in a display case.”

A museum, Shaffer said, is permitted under the 2.8-acre property’s existing zoning. So that means no special permits are necessary.

The subcommittee said it favored rehabbing the site’s dilapidated buildings, a former elementary school, over tearing them down and starting anew, at least for the interim museum. Glenn Pruim, director of public works, said so far due diligence hasn’t found “significant flaws” in the buildings that would rule out restoration.

But bringing the buildings up to code will likely require new plumbing, electrical work, ridding the structures of asbestos and other improvements, city staff noted.

Pruim said the city has $500,000 — unallocated money that’s available because the city didn’t have to make a full debt service payment on the property this year — that could be applied toward fixing up the buildings.

The subcommittee is tentatively slated to present its recommendations Jan. 28 to the full council, which ultimately has to sign off on them. Should the council agree to the museum vision, it will discuss whether the city or a local group should oversee building renovations and site rentals.

A local group, guided by a mutually agreed upon mission statement, could manage the property, with the requirement that the city receives revenue from site rentals, according to the subcommittee’s report.

Shaffer said this approach could be quicker and less costly, since the group would likely face less red tape than the city.

Resident Mark Freeman expressed concern that a museum would be “too broad” and not interactive enough.

Recently retired Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who previously sat on the Pacific View subcommittee, said the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas was approved as a museum, and the zoning designation allows for a range of uses.

The subcommittee is also proposing to relocate the historic 1883 schoolhouse from its current spot on the southwest portion of the Pacific View site to the northeast part of the property. As per the recent purchase agreement, the schoolhouse must stay on the property.

Encinitas Historical Society representatives welcomed moving the old schoolhouse across the property, saying it would make the building more visible.

Kranz said the schoolhouse could tie in with the museum concept.

The subcommittee intends to hold off on long-term site planning until the city completes a citywide arts master plan, according to the subcommittee report.

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