Winston School invokes state permit law in attempt to keep its lease

A 2018 photo of The Winston School’s sensory room
A 2018 photo of The Winston School’s sensory room at the time, where students can relieve stress through exercise equipment and art.

Winston School officials announced Sept. 10 that they invoked the California Permit Streamlining Act in an attempt to overturn a recent decision by the Del Mar City Council to terminate the school’s lease.

The city owns the Shores property where the school is located, and the lease requires the school to meet certain redevelopment milestones. After a July deadline passed, the Del Mar City Council voted to terminate the lease on the grounds that the school did not submit a complete redevelopment plan.

School officials have said that the multiple redevelopment plans they’ve submitted to the city over the last two years were complete. The original December 2019 deadline had been extended by the city multiple times over the past two years. But with each submission, city planners have pointed to certain components of the plan, such as parking, that they say were not adequately addressed.

The school is now arguing that the city’s Planning Department did not respond within 30 days to additional documentation the school provided on Aug. 10, therefore violating the Permit Streamlining Act.

“On August 10, 2021, the School submitted documentation in response to new requirements issued by the City on July 29, 2021,” Dena Harris, Winston’s head of school, said in a statement. “The Planning Department did not respond with the requisite determination. Regardless of the City Council’s actions as the landlord, the City has violated the School’s right to timely process. As such, the School meets the first redevelopment milestone requirement under the lease.”

Del Mar interim City Manager Ashley Jones said via email that the city attorney is reviewing a letter the city received from the school about the alleged violation.

“At this time, there is no specific timeline for a response to the School,” she said.