Interim Pacific View plan approved

An arts museum, a theater and more are possibilities at the Pacific View property while a long-term vision is developed.

The Encinitas City Council at its Feb. 11 meeting unanimously approved a museum and other potential interim uses at Pacific View.

A Pacific View subcommittee, which has been tasked with creating an interim plan, floated the idea of a “living museum” with art demonstrations and performances.

Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer, one of the two subcommittee members, explained museums have a key benefit. They’re allowed “by right” under the site’s public/semi-public zoning. Hence, special permitting that takes months to obtain wouldn’t be required.

However, Mayor Kristin Gaspar recommended going with an expanded zoning matrix that the council initially supported last October. She said this would let diverse groups apply to rent space at Pacific View.

“If perhaps someone didn’t feel they fit into the museum cultural arts box, that would prevent them from coming forward,” Gaspar said.

As a result, Shaffer agreed to tweak the subcommittee’s plan to include more possible uses revolving around the themes of arts, education and community gathering.

Specifically, those include open-air theaters and outdoor sales, which demand permitting. By right uses under the zoning: museums, parks and recreation facilities, educational facilities and auditoriums.

The motion also OK’d spending $20,000 for site maintenance and up to $75,000 for detailed engineering drawings that will serve as a guide for rehabilitating the buildings. But because some have offered pro bono services for the property, the city will see if the engineering drawings could be done for free or at a discounted rate.

The council will consider spending up to $405,000 to bring the buildings up to code at a later date. A city staff analysis found asbestos mitigation, plumbing as well as electrical improvements and more are needed.

A former elementary school built in 1953, Pacific View closed in 2003 due to declining enrollment. Over the years, various proposals for the property failed to win approval. Last spring, the city bought the 2.8-acre site from the Encinitas Union School District for $10 million.

Councilman Tony Kranz, the other subcommittee member, said there’s a lot of interest in the future of the property. He said each of the three subcommittee meetings drew around 50 people, with many also emailing their ideas as well.

The subcommittee will turn its attention to long-term visioning once the city completes an arts master plan, which is estimated to be done by early 2016.

Kranz said unlike the Encinitas Community Park, he wants Pacific View to open to the community right away.

“For 13 years, there was a fence around that property,” Kranz said of the community park. “And I want to get people on the Pacific View site just as soon as possible.”

Resident Garth Murphy said he’s part of a growing group called the Encinitas Art Culture and Ecology Alliance that wants to contribute ideas to Pacific View.

“All of us want to participate in the activation process,” Murphy said. “And all of us have the time and energy to do something about it.”

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