The San Diego Unified School District board voted 4-1 Tuesday night to sell the Mission Beach Center, a prime plot of land a block from the beach in Mission Beach, for $18.5 million — despite an in-person plea from the mayor to let the city buy the land.

This is the second time the district has tried to sell the property, and the deal was almost derailed again at the last minute by the sudden involvement of Mayor Bob Filner.

Filner showed up at Tuesday night’s meeting and made a rambling plea to the district. After apologizing for showing up at the “11th hour,” he outlined how he would like the city to work with the district as the school board moves forward on selling several other properties.

“I would have liked to work with you to say, ‘Let us buy it,’ ” Filner said. “I don’t have my check in hand.”

Before the vote, several public speakers lined up to urge the board not to sell the property. Debbie Watkins, chair of the Mission Beach Precise Planning Board, voiced concern about possible new high-density development in the community.


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“The sale of this school is very important to this community because it is the biggest land use change in Mission Beach in 50 years,” Watkins said. “There is strong support from residents to find other uses for this land.”

Before the vote, Trustee Scott Barnett made a motion to ask the district to consider selling the property to the city for $11 million, in an arrangement where the district would retain a $7.5 million “equity ownership” in the land. Nobody seconded Barnett’s motion.

The school board has to raise $50 million this year by selling property to help fill a $90 million hole in its budget. Three more properties are due to be auctioned off in the next month.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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    This article relates to: Education, Government, News, San Diego City Finances, Share

    Written by Will Carless

    Will Carless is the former head of investigations at Voice of San Diego. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he is a freelance foreign correspondent and occasional contributor to VOSD. You can reach him at will.carless.work@gmail.com.

    8 comments
    Scott Hasson
    Scott Hasson

    If the only way SDUSD has to balance it's budget is to sell off all the school property then watch as students start exiting to charter or private schools and the enrollment will continue to decline to where the only humans at a SDUSD school are members of the teachers union. What a joke!! What a tragedy for our children!!

    Scott Hasson
    Scott Hasson subscriber

    If the only way SDUSD has to balance it's budget is to sell off all the school property then watch as students start exiting to charter or private schools and the enrollment will continue to decline to where the only humans at a SDUSD school are members of the teachers union. What a joke!! What a tragedy for our children!!

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    It's long past time for the city to get out of development and start fixing roads, water mains, and sewers.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    It's long past time for the city to get out of development and start fixing roads, water mains, and sewers.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    Plus they will do this at a cost of more than $9 million so far. Payment comes from future Loan to the City's General Fund. The DOF denied Civic San Diego all extra Administrative Costs since 2012. Civic San Diego stated they will ask the City Council or another $2 million loan from the City's General Fund next month.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage

    Plus they will do this at a cost of more than $9 million so far. Payment comes from future Loan to the City's General Fund. The DOF denied Civic San Diego all extra Administrative Costs since 2012. Civic San Diego stated they will ask the City Council or another $2 million loan from the City's General Fund next month.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    A good negotiator could find a way to exchange some of Civic San Diego's properties for the Mission Bay one, but that is perhaps no better a solution, and Filner isn't a negotiator, he's a bully, and a bully won't work in this situation.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    A good negotiator could find a way to exchange some of Civic San Diego's properties for the Mission Bay one, but that is perhaps no better a solution, and Filner isn't a negotiator, he's a bully, and a bully won't work in this situation.