Barnard Elementary Property Goes Up for Auction Today – September 27

by on September 27, 2012 · 6 comments

in Economy, Education, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego

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”.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

judi Curry September 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I find it inconceivable that this particular school, in the middle of so many apartments, is closing. Wonder where those children will go to school.


RB September 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm

There are too many schools for the number of children in Point Loma. Half the students in the Point Loma Cluster are bused in from around the city. There are more than enough seats available at other Cluster schools (Loma Portal may be a good option in this area.). Barnard has been operating as a Chinese magnet school and the students who come from all over the city will go to a new location.

While I would keep or wait to sell the property, I have no problem with closing this school.


jim grant September 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm

This school is a black hole for funds….way to much operating capital to keep the doors open …..this point was clearly brought out 6 months ago at the district meeting …teachers , Staff and Parents did agree on this …some were not happy but after they realized the dollar amounts they saw it for what it is a money hole ….


dave rice September 27, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Rather than the “cutting off one’s nose” cliche, I’d use one more common in the business world (and thus naturally more brutal/vulgar): “eating your young,” or taking profits that should be reinvested into product and using them instead to cover operating expense.

If the school is currently in use, and there’s a projection for greater demand in coming years (I know the enrollment at OB Elementary has grown over the five years I’ve been a parent there), getting rid of it now during a real estate valuation trough is only going to come back to bite taxpayers later when they have to buy property to expand, potentially during an upswing in property values.

Quite frankly, that upswing is upon us, and having moved nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of property in the county over the last decade and a half I’m willing to bet that any sale today will be for considerably less than what the district might net in 2014 or 2015.

The only property on the chopping block that makes sense to me is the already-shuttered Mission Beach Elementary, as MB is a community that’s been thoroughly gutted and no longer exists in the terms under which we commonly describe the term “community” – there are few (if any) permanent residents, and even fewer of child-bearing age that might some day create demand for an elementary school that today’s rich retirees, trust-funded State students, and vacationing tourists have little need for.


RB September 28, 2012 at 8:43 am

There is no projected increase in demand for the schools in the Point Loma Cluster by local students.

The reason for the enrollment growth at OB elementary is it’s improvements over the last several years, including being named a California Distinguished School in 2008. Ten years ago OB elementary area students were going to other cluster schools. After Silvergate won this award in 2006, they had to open two additional kindergarten classes, as parents selected this school. OB elementary has more students now because it is a top notch school, area student and parents want to go there, and other parents outside its boundaries are selecting it, not because of more students in Point Loma.


Geneva Roman October 4, 2012 at 9:58 am

I wish this article had investigated a little more into the financial situation of the school district. That might give some us some insight into why they would close down a school in a neighborhood with substantial residents. I just feel like I couldn’t really form an educated opinion. I guess I’ll just have to keep digging.


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