Letters to the Editor: In response to Jon Vick
March 19, 2014Jon, your zeal for Valley Center's welfare is widely known. Sadly, zeal can be misdirected. Your campaign against the School District's purchase and use of the old CCC property is such a case. In your recent letter you accused the district of paying $255,998 for the property when it could have purchased it for $1. This is unfair. Neither you nor the district could possibly know what it would cost to acquire the property. Let me explain.
The school district has long admired this parcel for its potential to enhance the youth sports environment in the community. In 2008 the State Legislature declared this parcel to be "surplus land." In 2009 the process for acquiring surplus lands was amended by the legislature to require a competitive public bid offering. Although the school district expressed interest in the parcel years ago, it wasn't until August of 2011 that the legal ownership of the property was resolved so that the State could make it available.
The October 2011 Notice of Bid Package was distributed to a wide variety of names who had expressed interest in the parcel. Your email address was among these. Given the high level of apparent interest in this parcel, the district anticipated competition for it. Given the value of this parcel to the schools – for protection against unknown and possibly undesirable land use by someone else and to accomplish the very positive use the district envisioned – the decision was made to tender a market value offer. Any lesser action ran a sizable risk of the district losing the property to another bidder in the closed bid process. The rest is history. For this you not only criticized the district, you filed a lawsuit, the response to which wasted taxpayer money.
Let me now address all six points in your letter.
1. The purchase price? Could this property have been purchased for $1? Sadly, no. See above.
2. Demolition cost? Given that the district wishes to use the property for purposes other than storing obsolete buildings, this is a perfectly understandable and reasonable expense.
3. Ignored an offer to restore the old buildings? The offer was considered in a public hearing and politely declined because the district wishes to use the property for purposes other than storing obsolete buildings.
4. Attorney's fees? Admittedly this cost was unnecessary. Unfortunately your lawsuit cost the district "at least $30,000" in legal defense costs. This one's on you.
5. Spent money on an EIR? Given that the district wishes to use the property for youth sports fields, this was a necessary cost. If it's too expensive, blame CEQA instead of the district.
6. Future attorney's fees? Only you can make this cost necessary.
Jon, your lawsuit failed. The court did not decide in your favor. It's time to return to more civil and productive times. For Valley Center's sake, I ask that you and your group stop this wasteful campaign against the School District.
Bob Hunsaker, Valley Center