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San Diego School District Approves Two Property Sales

— San Diego Unified officials voted last night to sell two properties as part of their plan to balance this year’s budget Tuesday.

Barnard Elementary school in Ocean Beach.
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Above: Barnard Elementary school in Ocean Beach.

When district staff drew up the 2012-13 budget, they planned to sell seven unused district parcels to generate $25 million, according to Phil Stover, the district’s deputy superintendent of business.

Board members were presented with the highest bids for three district parcels Tuesday night. The former Barnard Elementary site in Ocean Beach and another former school site in Mission Beach each brought high bids of $16.5 million. Another undeveloped parcel in Paradise Hills brought in $3.1 million at auction. Stover said after sale costs, the district was expected to net about $33 million from the sale of all three.

But board trustees Scott Barnett and Shelia Jackson blocked the sale of all three parcels. Instead of a simple majority, the sales required a 4-1 vote. Jackson proposed selling just the Barnard Elementary and Paradise Hills sites, which received the necessary four votes.

“The issue for me goes back to 2009, when I met with the superintendent and asked the district to look at creative ways to use the Mission Bay Elementary site, not to sell it,” Jackson said Wednesday. “It’s in such a desirable location I believed we could find a developer to work with us.”

Barnett said the district will likely sell another of the original seven parcels considered for sale to close the budget gap that remains after selling just the two properties.

Barnett, who has been a vocal opponent of selling district properties, said he is now focused on plans to partner with developers to use about 40 remaining unused parcels owned by the districts.

“To do projects that would make them money and meet the community character and bring us ongoing long-term revenue streams,” he said.

The district has hired a real estate professional, according to Stover, to manage these partnerships, which might include long-term leases and joint-use projects.

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