The Encinitas City Council will take ideas in the near future from those interested in renting space at the Pacific View site.
The council voted unanimously Sept. 17 to establish a Pacific View subcommittee that will develop rental criteria and review proposals.
Some have floated converting the shuttered Pacific View Elementary into an arts center, but nothing has been settled. Because it could take years to determine a future use, the council wants to rent the old school buildings on the site or the surrounding land in the interim.
“If we establish a process now, we can be ready when we close escrow, so that we’re able to establish some interim uses and get some revenue coming in,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said.
Shaffer and Councilwoman Teresa Barth will serve on the subcommittee.
It will look into how much of the building space could be leased, comparable rental rates and how much is needed to fix up the buildings, which contain asbestos.
To guide the subcommittee, Barth and Shaffer would work with real estate brokers, city staff and representatives from Encinitas 101 Mainstreet and other economic development groups.
Another area the subcommittee will explore: figuring out what’s allowed under the public/semi-public zoning.
From there, the subcommittee would develop rental criteria, which the full council would have to approve, and then invite proposals.
“Before we get anyone’s proposal, we need to agree what the rules are and how we’re going to evaluate the proposals,” Shaffer said.
She added criteria might include a project’s financial viability, the revenue stream it would bring to the city and the public benefit.
Then the subcommittee would review the ideas and recommend suitable ones to the council for consideration.
Public speakers proposed everything from co-working space for start-ups to a farmers market on the site.
The agenda item was dedicated to next steps for Pacific View, a site the city purchased last spring from the Encinitas Union School District after months of back-and-forth negotiations.
The district agreed to clean up the site and clear away all debris from the classrooms. Plans call for the property to officially change hands by late November.
Meanwhile, the city is working to finance the deal by selling $13 million in bonds, with $10 million for obtaining Pacific View and $3 million for a new lifeguard tower at Moonlight Beach.
Previously, the city estimated the plan would add $733,000 to the city’s annual debt service — money for paying down interest and principal — for the next 30 years.
However, due to bond rates increasing, the projected debt service is now at least $764,000. But that’s only if the city sticks with tax-exempt bonds.
City Manager Gus Vina said tax-exempt bonds could prevent the city from leasing portions of the property and other uses.
“This could tie your hands in the future,” Vina said.
Vina said the council might want to pursue taxable bonds if it’s going to consider a wide range of projects. Taxable bonds, which have a higher interest rate, would raise the debt service to $815,000.
Resident Rhonda Graves said she couldn’t believe the debt service jumped so much under both scenarios, adding the council should proceed with caution.
Initially, city staff said council would have to decide between taxable and tax-exempt in the next week or so to move forward with financing.
Shaffer expressed frustration that the matter wasn’t brought to council earlier.
Ultimately, Vina agreed to bring back a report Oct. 22 with more information about taxable versus tax-exempt bonds.
“You’ll have more information so you’ll be more comfortable with one direction or the other,” Vina said.