top of page

Background & FAQ



  • 2002 - 3 Parcels deeded to PUSD, 1 by Fairbanks Highlands LLC acquired for the mitigation of CFD 7 and 2 by Santaluz LLC for the mitigation of CFD #4 to be used for a Middle School which the site was designated for in the Black Mountain Ranch and Torrey Highlands subarea plans.

  • Jan 2012 - PUSD forms a Real Property Advisory Committee (RPAC) to advise the board on the use or disposition of property not needed for school purposes.

  • RPAC’s are comprised of 7-11 committee members

  • Members must meet certain criteria described in education code (e.g. parents of students, the business community, landowners and renters, teachers, administrators)

  • The law states that RPAC is to have community involved before decisions are made about school closure or the use of surplus space, thus avoiding community conflict and assuring building use that is compatible with the community’s needs and desires.

  • Spring 2012

  • Reviewed projected enrollment and other data to determine if the land was needed for school purposes.

  • RPAC held 3 public hearings/meetings to solicit input from the community.

  • May 2012 - 4 sites, including the “Santaluz site” were declared surplus in a report delivered to the PUSD BOE.

  • Fast forward 7 years to 2019

  • May 20th 2019 - 5 of the original 7 members of the RPAC met in private, reviewed updated enrollment and capacity figures and determined that long-term projections don’t support the need for a new middle school and voted to support the districts waiver request.

  • June 20th, 2019 - CDE waiver public notice placed in the UT, Poway Chieftain

  • June 27th 2019 - Board meeting / public hearing where the board voted to authorize a waiver for the “Black Mountain Ranch Southern Site” (not the Santaluz Site referenced in the 2012 final report) to the California Dept of Education to waive the normal bid/auction process where the property is auctioned to the highest bidder, in exchange for a RFP process.

  • November 6th 2019 - CDE approves the Waiver

  • November 14th 2019 - Board approves RFP at board meeting

  • November 19th 2019 - RFP issued

  • Feb 2020 - 3 RFP responses received in private, Costco has no business terms

  • Aug 2020 - Board approves LOI for Costco with business terms

  • Sep 2020 - Costco proposal voted as “most beneficial”

Where is this property? What is it called?​

The piece of land in question is a 27.22 acre parcel of land at the northeast intersection of Camino Del Sur and Carmel Valley Road, in Black Mountain Ranch and Torrey Highlands Subareas. From 2002 through 2012, the PUSD Board called it the “Santaluz Site.”  Since 2019, the PUSD Board has called it the “Black Mountain Ranch Southern Site.”


How did PUSD come to own this real estate?

The property was deeded to PUSD by the real estate developer in 2002 with the intent of becoming a middle school.


How did PUSD decide to not build a school on this land?

If a school is no longer needed, per Education Code 17388, the board of the respective school district is required to appoint a Real Property Advisory Committee.  In 2012, the PUSD Board convened a Real Property Advisory Committee (RPAC, or also called a “7-11 Committee” because it contains between 7 and 11 community members).  The 7-11 Committee concluded that an additional middle school was not needed and designated this parcel of land as “surplus.”


We are not aware of any activity on the property for the next seven years aside from a 35-month lease to SDG&E for storage.


At the September 10, 2020, PUSD Board meeting, a reference was made to “reconvening the committee” to validate the finding of this report, but we have not found any documentation that indicates that this occurred.  The current surplus status was determined in 2012, and we do not have the documentation to verify that the 2012 population projections for 2020 and beyond were correct. 


Can PUSD lease or sell the property?  If so, how does this happen? 

California law under Education Code 17464 outlines a specific series of steps for disposition of surplus property, with priority to specific entities.


“When the District is selling any property or leasing property with an option to purchase, all public entities cited in Education Code 17464 and Government Code 54222 must be given priority notification before disposition of surplus properties. Additional, under certain circumstances, Districts may need to comply with the Naylor Act (Education Code 17485-17500), requiring the granting of priority to public agencies when disposition of surplus real property includes a playground, playing field, or land with an outdoor recreational purpose. Under Education Code 17230, disposition of surplus real property may be for less than fair market value if for public entities for recreational purposes.”


An exception can be made if the district obtains a waiver from the California Department of Education. We have requested a copy of the waiver granted to PUSD.


Is it legal for a school district to make a commercial lease of public property for profit?

Under certain circumstances, a school board can bypass the normal procedures required by law if a waiver was issued from the California Department of Education. This happened in 2019, which allowed the Board to pursue alternative arrangements such as a lease or a property exchange. These alternative options also allow the Board to bypass the right of first refusal for the original owners to repurchase the property, which was stipulated in the original deed.


Who is interested in buying or leasing this property? 

In response to its Request for Proposals (RFP), the PUSD Board received three proposals: 

  • Costco, $105.6 million lease, paid in annual installments over 40 years, with option to extend for up to 20 additional years

  • Brookfield Homes, $47 million purchase

  • Cambridge School, $22 million purchase or $8 million purchase and exchange


We do not have documentation that shows how PUSD marketed this land between November 2019 and February 2020 to ensure that all potentially interested parties had the opportunity to submit proposals. 


Is this area zoned for a Costco?

No. It is zoned AR-1-1.  Per the San Diego Municipal Code:


The purpose of the AR zones is to accommodate a wide range of agricultural uses while also permitting the development of single dwelling unit homes at a very low density. The agricultural uses are limited to those of low intensity to minimize the potential conflicts with residential uses.


This zone is applied to lands that are in agricultural use or that are undeveloped and not appropriate for more intense zoning. Residential development opportunities are permitted with a Planned Development Permit at various densities that will preserve land for open space or future development at urban intensities when and where appropriate. (emphasis added)


Rezoning the parcels will require a City approval and public vote.


Why are community members opposed to this idea?

  • We didn’t know. PUSD did not make a good faith effort to communicate their intentions to the community or to involve the community in the process.  We need appropriate time to understand the process and options, and give informed feedback as required by law.  Moreover, the 7-11 Committee that convened in 2012 did not gather community input, which is a legal requirement as specified in California Education Code 17390.

  • Decision did not include community input.  When the 7-11 Committee convened in 2012, it reported that community members did not offer input.  We believe that community members either did not know about the opportunity for input, or were not given the chance to provide input. 

  • Decision relied on outdated data.  The PUSD Board issued the Request for Proposals (RFP) in 2019, relying on the findings of the 2012 7-11 Committee, which findings are now eight years old. 

  • Incompatible use.  The use of the site should be compatible with the low- and very low-density sial uses that surround it in Black Mountain Ranch and Torrey Highlands.

  • Environmental impact. Black Mountain Ranch and Torrey Highlands subareas were developed with the intent of being a buffer against urban sprawl and protecting essential wildlife corridors in the San Dieguito River Park. This property borders the Multi-Habitat Planning Area (MHPA) which provides essential habitat for wildlife and trails enjoyed by many San Diegans.  Pollution from heavy truck and automobile traffic would have a significantly adverse impact on this area.

  • Traffic. A commercial development would cause a significant increase in traffic on the surrounding roadways, causing particular problems at peak hours.


What do the community members propose as a solution?

  1. Inclusion. The PUSD Board has a legal obligation to take into account the input of local community members when declaring school property surplus and assessing the "most beneficial" use of the surplus land.  Community members cannot offer thoughtful input if PUSD is not forthcoming and transparent.​

  2. Time.  We are requesting a pause on the 60-day period for the Costco negotiation (currently slated to end on or before November 9, 2020) for community to provide input to the PUSD Board, verify the legality of this negotiation, and ensure that PUSD adequately marketed the RFP to a variety of potential bidders who might be interested in this opportunity.

  3. Compromise. We will work with the Board to come up with a solution that serves everyone’s needs.


We have asked the PUSD Board for clarification on the following points:

  1. Is the property still “surplus”?

  2. Has the Board followed the proper steps to declare the property “surplus”?

  3. Is a Costco lease, in this specific location, truly the best use of the property?

  4. Did the Board comply with the Brown Act in its public announcements regarding the discussion and vote on declaring the best use of the property?

  5. Did the Board comply with AB 1486?

  6. Shouldn’t the Board have convened a 7-11 Committee in 2019, prior to issuing the Request for Proposals (RFP)?  The RFP is based on 2012 conclusions of the 7-11 Committee, which included population growth estimates.  Why didn’t the Board convene a new 7-11 Committee to gather updated population figures and solicit community involvement and input, as required by law?


Who can we contact for more information or media inquiries?


Phone: 725-222-8669 or 725-2 ACT-NOW

FacebookPage: “Protect PUSDs Community"

We Need Your Support Today!

bottom of page