T he C oast News
AUG. 9, 2019
Future of Winston School remains in the balance as negotiations linger By Lexy Brodt
DEL MAR — Wedged between the will of its neighbors and the city, the 31-year-old Winston School may be seeing some big changes in the coming years. The future of the school hinges on the outcome of a lease negotiation with the city now several years in the making, according to Winston Head of School and Executive Director Dena Harris. Winston, a small nonprofit school that serves children with learning disabilities from all over the county, leases a 1.8-acre portion of a 5.3-acre piece of city-owned parkland off of 9th Street. The school’s term is scheduled to expire in 2063. Starting in 2023, the city is requesting an annual rent in the estimated amount of $266,910.31— a number that might force the school to increase its enrollment and nearly double its square footage. So far, neighbors are not happy with this potential outcome — and neither is Harris. “I have two masters, and they’re not agreeing,” Harris said. “And I’m stuck in the middle.” Winston’s current lease negotiations with Del Mar hark back to the city’s purchase of what is commonly referred to as the Shores Park property — prized by locals as one of the last open green spaces in Del Mar. The journey to acquire the land was no simple feat — and Winston played a prominent role in making it a reality. The Del Mar School District owned the property since the 1940s, when one of the area’s earliest pioneers, William G. Kerck-
hoff, conveyed the property to the district with the deed restriction that it be used for school purposes only. As such, the property has housed a school since its early days, with Winston coming in as a tenant in 1988. However, in 2005, the district declared the property surplus and expressed an interest in selling it to a commercial developer, according to the city’s mayor at the time of purchase, Carl Hilliard. The Friends of Del Mar Parks, a community group led by Joe Sullivan and Laura DeMarco, decided to help raise the money to finance the city’s purchase of the property and preserve the park space. Their campaign generated approximately $2.5 million in the span of about two years. Sullivan estimates that about 600 community members contributed to the effort. “There had never been any fundraising campaign anywhere near this in Del Mar before,” he said. The Friends worked in conjunction with Winston to raise funds — not knowing at the time how much they would need to purchase the property. The city and the school district were in the midst of “contentious negotiations” over the final price tag of the property, said Hilliard. It was ultimately purchased for $8.5 million. Winston brought $3 million dollars to the table, which represented prepaid rent. The remainder of the purchase was paid off in 2010 when the city sold the Balboa reservoir property. In 2008, with the acquisition of the Shores property, Winston became the city’s tenant. And with the school’s
DEL MAR’S 31-year-old Winston School is currently in lease negotiations with the city, the outcome of which will determine whether the school will need to double in size to remain on the property. Photo by Lexy Brodt
prepaid rent set to run its course by 2023, Harris and community members are questioning some of the terms of the original lease, and hoping that the new lease might mend past discrepancies. Members of the community have asked the city to enter into “good faith negotiations” with the school, in light of unique circumstances surrounding its tenancy. Winston’s October lease proposal cited the school’s role as a clear competitor for the purchase of the property back in the mid-2000s; however, the school agreed not to compete with the city over the purchase “in the spirit of partnership.” Harris also said the
school’s 2008 lease with the city was “miscalculated.” The city adopted the lease the school had maintained with the district. However, said lease had originally dictated that the district owned and was responsible for the buildings the school occupied, whereas at the time of the city’s purchase, Winston took on the financial burden of upkeeping the campus’s buildings. Harris said this shift in responsibility should have resulted in a land lease, which is what she is currently proposing — $147,000 annually. As the city and the school continue closed-door lease negotiations, the process has been compounded by a looming deadline for
the school. As stipulated by its original lease with the city, Winston is required to submit an application for redevelopment by the end of 2019, and commence a complete reconstruction of the aging campus before the end of 2025. A remodel under Winston’s proposed land lease could yield a school with the same footprint as the current campus, at about 25,000 square feet. Harris said this rent will also allow the school to remain at its current enrollment size of 120 to 150 students. Or — if ultimately faced with the rent proposal recently set forth by the city of over $266,000 annually — Harris said she will move forward with a
47,000-square-foot campus, which would accommodate increased enrollment and expanded programming. Harris said she would also push for a rezone in order to commercialize the property, and close off the school and parking lot from public use. “(Del Mar) wants a passive-use park,” Harris said. “They want access to the school, which they are closing the door on 100%.” So far, as the school undergoes the Citizens’ Participation Program process with its new potential design, Harris said neighbors on 9th Street and Stratford Court have not been pleased with the idea of an expanded campus. TURN TO SCHOOL ON A21
San Diego County to work on drug treatment clinic guidelines REGION - The Board of Supervisors directed county staff on Aug. 6 to ensure that clinics for those in addiction recovery are meeting treatment expectations. The board unanimously directed Helen Robbins-Meyer, the county’s chief administrative officer, to return within 180 days with guidelines for locating and operating medication-assisted treatment clinics, within the scope of federal law; ensuring that clinics are in compliance; and encouraging primary care doctors to offer MAT services. The reforms would affect clinics that offer methadone treatment for those recovering from opioid abuse. Supervisor Jim Desmond, who made the request, said the county has the opportunity to develop local guidelines and he looks forward to Robbins Meyer’s presentation. According to Desmond’s office, constituents in his district have told
him there is a need for more treatment facilities, which should be balanced with community safety concerns. Desmond added that there are 320,000 doctors in the United States who provide MAT services, and he wants to see if local doctors will follow suit.
Medicationaddicted therapies work and can save lives...” Nathan Fletcher San Diego County Super-
Supervisor Kristin Gaspar said that after the board approved a medical organized delivery system for opioid treatment, she was concerned about siting methadone clinics within a community -- but later visited one.
“I saw two people in recovery, and they both expressed the importance of counseling services and addiction treatment,’’ Gaspar said. She added that access to both services is a critical component. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the board’s vote was a “very important step for the county to streamline (policy), so we have the ability to rapidly site these facilities.’’ Medication-addicted therapies work and can save lives, and “I’m grateful to see this board take action,’’ Fletcher added. Before the supervisors began discussing agenda items, board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob asked for a moment of silence to honor victims of the deadly mass shootings this past weekend in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. “We mourn for all those who lost loved ones,’’ Jacob said.
— City News Service
BOYS & GIRLS CLUB HONORS PHILANTHROPISTS
Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad Gala Co-Chairs Barbi Nelson and Viola Wheelihan announced that philanthropists Teresa and Mark King will be the special honorees at the club’s October gala, “Kids are King.” “It’s all about the kids. Raising a child is a difficult job,” Teresa said. “The most important thing we can do is help each other with our kids. Our commonality as parents is that we all want our children to have a wonderful life, develop skills, be better people, and give back.” Courtesy photo