The Coronado Unified District Office, one of the locations targeted for affordable housing, doesn't have to be sold, The Coronado News has learned. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

The Coronado Unified School District has no intention of selling one of its properties that has been identified as a location to help with the city’s housing shortage, and it’s unlikely any government entity can force district officials to change their minds, The Coronado News has learned.

The school district issued a statement on Oct. 19, expressing resistance to the city’s plan to include the CUSD site at 201 6th Street, with a total of 3.36 acres, for more than 100 affordable housing units.

The location was among 10 sites the city identified in mid-October to accommodate 912 new state-mandated affordable housing units. Coronado was forced to propose the locations as part of its Housing Element Update or HEU under a legal settlement with the state because it was in violation of California’s Housing Element Law.

However, the Coronado News has found that no one can force the school district – or any of the property owners of the proposed sites – to sell their land for affordable housing.

City: New plan if not enough sellers

Andrea McCullough, a city spokeswoman, said “nothing in the HEU requires an owner to sell their site, let alone do anything differently with it.”

McCullough added that should the city run out of proposed housing units then officials “would then have to revisit the plan and identify additional sites.”

McCullough said the 10 housing locations had to have lot sizes greater than a half acre, which are few in Coronado.

She added the CUSD parcel met the state’s “potential housing development” guidelines and “an area where housing could be developed, but there is no obligation for development.”

McCullough added: “Changes or selling of a property are at the property owner’s discretion. … CUSD retains full control of its property and decisions on how to use it. The inclusion of the parcel in the Housing Element has no bearing on its use, now or in the future.”

Community resistance

Many community members have been against the housing plan, saying it will cause additional congestion and hurt the city.

And, the Coronado Unified School District was one of the first property owners to publicly object after the city council on Oct. 17 approved its housing plan that was sent to the California Department of Housing & Community Development.

The district said on Oct. 19 that the city’s plan had “no influence on the current or future plans for CUSD and carries no authority.”

In a more recent statement, district officials said they haven’t changed their minds.

“The Coronado Unified School District recognizes and respects the efforts of the City of
Coronado to complete its state-mandated California Department of Housing and Community Development proposal,” reads the Oct. 19 statement. “The CUSD Governing Board has not discussed or considered selling the property at 201 Sixth Street.”

During that Oct. 17 public meeting, citizens voiced their concern about many of the sites, including the district’s property of a former elementary school on 6th Street that currently houses a childcare and pre-K center as well as the district office.

“CUSD is not considering any activity related to the site at 201 Sixth Street identified by the City of Coronado in its Housing Element Update,” CUSD Public Information Officer Maria Simon told The Coronado News on Nov. 6.

Housing plan spans years

The city’s housing plan follows a process that goes back to 2018.

The draft comes after years of public pushback and litigation between the city and SANDAG in 2021 resulting in a recent settlement requiring Coronado to meet a portion of the 170,000 new affordable housing units across the San Diego region.

Now the city will continue working with the California Department of Housing & Community Development as it waits for the review, certification and approval of the housing plan.

A state spokesperson said the legal settlement requires Coronado to adopt a “compliant” housing plan by no later than April 16, 2024, where potential sites can be found.

The settlement was approved on Nov. 8. It can be found here.

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Julieta is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering education, small business and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from UC Berkeley where she studied English, Spanish, and Journalism. Apart from reporting, Julieta enjoys reading, traveling, and spending quality time with family and friends.