Car lot to become public works yard
By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer
ENCINITAS ---- The three-year search for a public works facility is over.
By a 5-0 vote Wednesday, the City Council approved $9.5 million to buy the Mossy Chevrolet dealership on Calle Magdalena as a permanent home for the public works department and San Dieguito Water District.
The approval triggers a 60-day escrow, which means the city could take possession of the 4.4-acre car lot well before Dec. 1, when the department's $1 annual lease expires at the former Pacific View School campus.
The vote followed alternating remarks of praise and criticism from nearly a dozen speakers.
Praise came from residents of Quail Gardens Drive, where officials previously had considered building the facility.
"I would like to encourage you to buy the Calle Magdalena property," said resident Kathleen Gille. "I don't think the (Quail Gardens Drive) site next to my home is appropriate."
Critics struck a sharper tone.
They demanded explanations for why an appraisal and environmental analysis were not included with a published city report. They said the car dealerships provide sales taxes that the city would regret losing.
"Let the citizens see how you made your decision," council watchdog Donna Westbrook said.
Mayor Christy Guerin responded that the city was within its rights to withhold the appraisal and environmental study. She said both documents would be accessible to the public after the vote.
Guerin rejected criticism that the council had rushed into the purchase.
"Working on this for three years is not rushing," she said. "I'm just grateful we have an opportunity to purchase a site. We're very blessed we came upon this."
City officials began negotiating with property owner Philip Mossy last month. Mossy did not attend the meeting.
Speaking to the loss of one of Encinitas' top-25 sales tax producers, Councilman Dan Dalager said Mossy Chevrolet is the fourth dealership to fold at the location just east of Interstate 5 and south of Encinitas Boulevard.
For some time now, Dalager said, Mossy has searched unsuccessfully for a buyer.
The service bays, office space, parking lot and equipment on the car lot were facilities the city would have needed to build and buy at great expense, he said.
"It's unfortunate it was a bad site for them," Dalager said.
The council's action included setting aside $100,000 to buy vehicle lifts, portable buildings and furniture.
The property is zoned for commercial uses and includes 16,927 square feet of offices, covered work and storage areas, service bays and an employee break room. Outdoor parking and storage space total 182,373 square feet.
Under the agreement, Mossy must remove any soil contamination or underground tanks at his expense.
Good location, too much money, happy the issue is finally resolved? Discuss in the comments section.