Poway Unified, Costco end negotiations for Black Mountain property

Community members gather outside the district office
A sign in opposition to the proposed Costco on Camino Del Sur.
(Karen Billing)

The Poway Unified School District’s attempts to lease a piece of Black Mountain Ranch property to Costco have ended.

PUSD announced Wednesday, March 10, that the district and Costco mutually agreed to end all negotiations related to the property it refers to as the “Black Mountain Ranch Southern Site.” The 27-acre plot, originally intended for a middle school, is at the northeast corner of Camino del Sur and Carmel Valley Road.

The district is interested in continuing conversations with the community to gather input and ideas on how to leverage the property to benefit PUSD, said Christine Paik, PUSD’s chief communications officer.

A virtual community meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. March 18. PUSD staff will review ideas generated at another community meeting held on March 1. The information gathered will be presented to the board at a future meeting, Paik said. To register, visit bit.ly/PUSD-bmrss.

Residents living near the property have been protesting the potential Costco sale since September, when the board voted for a plan to lease the property. Leasing the property would give PUSD an ongoing revenue stream, according to Ron Little, associate superintendent of business support services. This would help offset the deficits the district’s general fund is facing in the coming years.

A community group, Protect Our Community Now, held several rallies outside of the district office in Carmel Mountain Ranch. It also filed a lawsuit in October against PUSD. The lawsuit said PUSD failed to comply with legal requirements to dispose of the property in its negotiations with Costco. It also said PUSD deliberately excluded the community from meaningful public input on proposals.

Some residents said they wanted PUSD to build a new middle school on the site as originally intended. PUSD staff said demographics studies do not support the need for a new middle school. Funding is also not available for a new school, and the number of students in the area is not enough to support a new middle school, said Rheia Alschbach, PUSD’s assistant planning director.

At a community meeting held by PUSD staff in November, residents said they feared Costco would increase crime and traffic, plus make the area unsightly. Others said they felt the district had not been transparent and left the community out of the conversation.