By Joe Sullivan
President, Friends of Del Mar Parks
Debra McGinty-Poteet, in her Jan. 22 "Community View," incorrectly states that the sale of the Del Mar Shores property by the Del Mar Union School District to the city of Del Mar was at a "bargain basement" price.
The $8.5 million purchase price might seem a bargain if the property could be densely developed for residential or commercial use. But it can't. The property is zoned only for public facilities. No private developer would bet on the Del Mar City Council changing the zoning so playing fields could be paved over for private development. In addition, most of the property is covered by the Kerckhoff deed restriction, limiting the use to "educational purposes." The district went to court to have this restriction lifted, but it was denied on appeal. Moreover, a state law known as the "Naylor Act" arguably required the district to sell the playing fields to the city at 75 percent of market value.
Both the district and the city had a fiduciary duty to arrive at a "fair market value." The city paid the district $8.5 million after several years of public meetings and arms-length negotiations that were often contentious and even litigious. The final agreed price was supported by independent appraisals.
The DMUSD staff and board worked very professionally over a long period of time to manage this transaction and protect the interests of the district. McGinty-Poteet's allegation otherwise is a perversion of history and a disservice to all the professionals, volunteers and donors who provided $8.5 million for the benefit of the DMUSD while keeping the Shores park and school property in the public trust for future generations.