The San Diego School District is placing the Barnard Elementary School property up for auction, today, September 27th. Bids take place at 10 am at Annex 2, Normal Street for the former Midway area public school.
The site represents 9.37 acres, and is located at 930 Barnard Street, a block from West Point Loma Avenue in the Midway area. The parcel is in the “coastal zone” and is on the chopping block for a minimum bid of $9.14 million. Originally opened during World War II for Navy children, the elementary school was acquired by the District after the war.
On June 22nd this year, the Board voted to place the Barnarad site and 6 other so-called “surplus properties” on the market. Public agencies – who get first dibs – were notified several days later, plus ads for the sale have been published. September 7th was the deadline for public agencies to submit an offer to buy property. After that, the properties became available to private sector bids. By today, the bids from the private sector will be opened, with the sale price able to be raised by an oral bidding auction. The board must vote on each agreement of purchase with the highest bidder. Escrow will open in late October or early November, with March 2013 planned for the close of Escrow.
As the OB Rag reported then:
Some locals think that this move by the School District is the old proverbial saying, “cutting off your nose to spite your face”, as it is selling off valuable investment properties for a one-time quick fix and influx of cash, whereas if the District maintained the properties, leased them or developed them, the investments would generate revenue on a yearly basis. Not only that, others feel the minimum asking prices are too small, especially for prime coastal properties.
To say that the decision by the Unified School District Board was controversial is to make an understatement. Yet, no organized opposition appeared from the local communities of the Peninsula to work to block the sale and auction.
At the time, the Board approved the sales in order to raise money to offset a projected $120 million budget deficit. The measure to sell the properties, with a total value of more than $26 million, passed with the required supermajority 4-1 vote. And Trustee Scott Barnett opposed the sale and has consistently gone against issue since it was raised in November 2011.
Barnett made the following comments to the media:
“We’re about to sell one of the best pieces of real estate this district has and it’s like selling your grandma’s jewelry to pay the rent.”
“This piece of real estate — that’s the Pacific Ocean, that’s the bay. It’s one the best pieces of real estate in the world and we are going to sell it in the worst real estate market since the Great Depression for one-time revenues. Once we sell it, it’s gone.”
“It’s absolutely absurd and probably this will go down as one of the most boneheaded things this school board has ever done.”
The Point Loma Cluster Schools Foundation did not support the sale of the Barnard Property. The Cluster’s board of 40 members representing all 10 Point Loma Cluster Schools opposed the sale and submitted a letter to the SDUSD Board of Education, outlining their opposition.
Also, longtime Point Loma resident and real estate broker agent Cynthia Conger was also quoted opposing the sale:
“This is not the time to sell and certainly not at these prices. Once property — especially property by the coast — is gone, it’s gone for good. This is all happening very fast.”
The other parcel for sale in the beach area is the former site of Mission Beach Elementary School, closed for years due to the steady decline of school-aged children in Mission Beach. That choice property is a half block from Mission Bay and a block from the sand and Pacific Ocean. It is 2.23 acres in size and only has a $11 million minimum bid on it.
Critics are still in opposition to the auction, taking place starting today. They charge that property values in the Peninsula will drastically go down because of 45 to 55 kids per class, due to the closure of local schools and because of more kids coming soon. They believe that in about two years, there will be a “baby boom echo” – where the children of the baby boomers have school age kids.
They also accuse the District of being in collusion with developers who are frothing at the mouth over the choice properties being “given away in one-time deals”.