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Council Delays Decision on Leasing Old School Sites

March 12, 1986|ARMANDO ACUNA | Times Staff Writer

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday postponed for one week a decision on whether to set in motion a plan blocking the city school board from leasing two closed school sites in Point Loma and Pacific Beach to condominium and apartment developers for 99 years.

In an effort to stave off a confrontation with the City Council over the use of all surplus school sites, the Board of Education proposed establishing a committee of two school board members and two council members to work out the conflict.

The City Council put off taking action until 9:30 a.m. next Tuesday to allow the city staff time to prepare a report detailing the school district's plans for six surplus school sites that, according to the city manager's office, are likely targets of long-term development leases.

School officials are desperate to raise money to build schools in areas of the city that are overcrowded and in need of help. The officials hope to finance this construction by leasing surplus school sites, where declining enrollment has forced school closures.

But residents who live near the surplus schools--specifically those near Dana Junior High School in Point Loma and Farnum Elementary School in Pacific Beach, who appeared in force at Tuesday's council meeting--want the sites kept free of development and open for recreational use.

Ultimately, the question is: How will the school district and the City Council reach an accommodation over not only these two locations but the several others identified by the school district as leaseable to developers?

Complicating matters is a city attorney's office opinion that the school district may have violated state law by failing to inform city officials that they had the first right of refusal to purchase the Farnum site, 4275 Cass St., for about a 75% discount price of its market value.

School officials say they told the city last summer of their plans to develop the Farnum site and dispute the city's contention that it has the right of first refusal.

On that point, school district lawyer Tina Dyer said that cities and other public agencies have the first chance to purchase former school sites only if there is no other available public land nearby to adequately meet community needs for playgrounds, athletic fields and open space.

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