Voters to Board: "Do not turn over our new Prop AA fields to City of Carlsbad!"
For the past couple of years, residents have been objecting to Superintendent Dill's suggestion that the athletic fields built with Prop AA funding near the La Costa Valley development should be turned over to the City of Carlsbad. However, he is no longer just suggesting. A formal proposal was made at the May 10th board meeting that the fields be leased to the City of Carlsbad for a period of ten years, with extendable periods of ten years if the parties agree. (Item 19, pp. 102-103 of the board packet). The reason is because the District needs someone to manage and operate the fields it just spent millions on.
Excerpt from Agenda Item 19, May 10 Board Packet.
The fields are located along Calle Barcelona near the La Costa Valley development, but the public has been crying foul. Parents and community members have repeatedly appeared before the San Dieguito Board urging it not to turn over the fields built with Prop AA funds to the City of Carlsbad. Fortunately, the Board has yet to approve this proposal.
Overview of Bond Measure
The site in question, which the Prop AA measure calls "La Costa Valley Site," identifies three site specific improvements such as:
To date approximately $10 million of Prop AA funds have been used to build beautiful multi-use fields.
The dilemma - the district has no staff or management plan (or possibly funding) in place to manage the multi-million dollar property. However, discussions have apparently been underway for some time between the district's superintendent and the City of Carlsbad despite repeated efforts by the taxpaying public to stop these efforts and with no other consideration for other entities to manage the sites.
This situation has resonated with parents who have urged this district to build a pool on district property because waterpolo, swim and dive teams struggle each year to find pools space and the CA Ed. Code sections 51879.7, 33352(b)(7), Code of Regulations 10060(a)(3), and CA's Model PE Standards (p. 36) require instruction in aquatics. Yet, none of the district's schools have pools and the push for a pool has consistently been rejected by the district on the basis that the district does not want to be in the business of managing pools. Yet, the district approved the building of the fields even though it apparently doesn't want to be in the business of managing its own fields.
Numerous public comments at board meetings have questioned why fields built with Prop AA funding to benefit La Costa Canyon students and paid for by the taxes of residents residing in the district's boundaries to benefit our district's students, should be turned over to the City of Carlsbad. Yes, the site sits in the City of Carlsbad, but the vast majority of the residents in the City of Carlsbad do not pay for the Prop AA bond.
The City of Carlsbad has approximately 105,328 residents per the data reflected in its new district voting maps. Only 15,000 of Carlsbad registered voters reside in the district per the Registrar of Voters, which means that less than around 15% of the residents residing in Carlsbad are paying for the Prop AA bond.
So Why the City of Carlsbad? Asked often but never answered.
The District has numerous nonprofits that work directly with the students and community located within the district's boundaries so why only speak with the City of Carlsbad, which mostly services persons outside the district's boundaries? Why not explore relationships with "in district" nonprofits?
What about the Boys and Girls Club, or the YMCA? Per comments, the Boys and Girls Club has previously expressed an interest in partnering with the District in connection with a possible pool project, which is badly needed in our district because not one of our schools has a pool and there is a known shortage of pool space to use. In April 2017, the pool committee presented a proposal to the Board to share how pools might work at our schools and benefit not only our students, but also those residing in the District (Agenda Item #22).
Prior to this presentation, the volunteers had suggested that this "La Costa Valley" property might be a good location for a district pool because it was a neutral site which would allow multiple schools to use and support it (including our middle schools) to meet the aquatic instruction requirement under the CA PE Standards and Ed Code, and it was an off-site location away from schools so a nonprofit could easily partner with the district to operate it so that the district would not have to manage, upkeep or operate the pool. A CEO from the Boys and Girls club even appeared at the April meeting to show support and this nonprofit has submitted a letter of interest per one of the committee members Watchdog contacted.
The history behind the property. The La Costa Valley property has been the subject of dispute for almost two decades. When La Costa Valley was developed, there used to be a large sign posted on the property stating that a middle school would be built at the site. Numerous homeowners relied upon that when deciding whether to purchase a home there. However, at some point the sign was removed and the property sat undeveloped for years.
In 2008, a La Costa Valley parent group banded together to try to get the district to build a middle school on the property, or provide reassurances that the property would not be turned into apartments or a shopping mall. They sought a legal restriction ("Declaration of Covenant") on the deed, but the Board rejected this because the developer, Fieldstone Homes, had the right of first refusal that prevented the district from putting any restrictions on the deed itself that would impair Fieldstone's use of the property if it exercised its right of first refusal.
In November 2008, the Board responded to threatened legal action by the parent group with a "Resolution of Assurance" dated 11/13/08 (pp. 71 - 72) that included reassurances that:
The La Costa Valley Homeowners Association would have representation in the District's long range facilities planning process;
The La Costa Valley Homeowner's Association would have representation in any process to consider disposition of the site should the site ever consider declaring the site as surplus and for use other than a future middle school site; and
The HOA would have representation in determining the priorities for disposition of the site should it be considered as surplus and for use other than as a school site.
When approached about exploring this site for an aquatic center, the district informed members of the pool committee that this site was not available because it had to be reserved for a middle school site per the board resolution from 2008. But the enrollment numbers and trends over the last several years do not look like they will ever be high enough to justify the building of a middle school at this location, so that resolution needs to be re-evaluated so that this property can be developed to meet the existing needs of the students and programming.
Regardless, why turn it over to the City of Carlsbad when it could be operated by a nonprofit such as the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA or even the LCC Foundation to serve the residents and students in the district more effectively? It appears that other nonprofits were not given a chance to enter a lease? The property could be a wonderful competitive athletic center for all our schools and students to use, instead of turned over to the City of Carlsbad.
This item is not finished, it is important that we keep a watchful eye on the Board Agendas throughout the summer.
The District Administration has a history of trying to slip items through because we have a board majority with a history of rubber stamping the last several years.