by M. Boone Hellmann
As printed in the Letters section of The Encinitas Advocate, June 19th, 2020
Eleanor Musick’s letter of June 5 suggests that the Cardiff School District was not honest. Consider the fact that the opposition against the district was initiated by a small group, led by Musick. Five of six individuals in the group live across the street from the school. This group maintains that their objection to the school expansion was for reasons having to do with an incursion into the district’s owned land onto George Berkich Park. It is really more likely their honest objection had to do with the probability that their views would be partially obstructed. That’s the truth. You can review the public meeting records and see that the OGALS and NPS boundary adjustment was brought up as an issue long after the initial district community meetings were conducted. This group discovered that the district was thought to be violating the use agreement between the city and the district. They then transitioned to a position of opposition based mostly on their interpretation that the expansion could not take over space that was defined in the boundaries for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Project Agreement executed by the city and the school district.
It is true that the district was not cognizant of particulars as the agreement was signed into existence in 1993. Institutional knowledge and historical memory unfortunately wasn’t engaged. However, it is also important to point out the city itself did not recall the agreement as they had approved construction for a prior bond issue into the disputed land area.
What is also true is that Musick’s group sued the school district and garnered a settlement to the tune of $500,000. Legal extortion. The school district was forced to make a business decision about expending substantial further funds in defending Musick’s lawsuit. Most likely the school district would have prevailed, but it would have spent several million dollars going forward and, in the meantime, the current construction was suspended with significant delay costs being owed to the general contractor for having to stop their work on the project.
As it is, Musick’s group has thus far cost the school district in excess of $4 million comprised of legal costs, project impact changes and other fees! I am also of the opinion that all of this could have been avoided had the city mayor and city council facilitated the boundary adjustment. The city was uncooperative and seemingly opposed to helping the school district and that is another story in itself that will ultimately be revealed.
M. Boone Hellmann
(Top photo is one of the hundreds of yard signs seen around Cardiff this past week.)