Poway Unified parents rally against proposed Costco development at vacant school site

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SAN DIEGO — Dozens of parents and students gathered Thursday at the Poway Unified School District headquarters to call on the district to stop exploring plans for a lease agreement that would bring a Costco to the area.

School district officials say the 27.2 acres of land at the corner of Carmel Valley Road and Camino Del Sur, known as the Black Mountain Ranch Southern site, was designated as “surplus property.” Last month, the district’s board voted 4-0 to explore the potential of a long-term lease with Costco Wholesale Corp. after putting out a request for proposals for the site.

The district said it simply has identified Costco as the best offer thus far, district spokeswoman Christine Paik said.

But parents from the district Thursday accused the board of using the coronavirus pandemic as cover to move the plan forward. Protesters have gathered more than 2,000 signatures in an attempt to shut the deal down.

Dozens of parents and students gathered Thursday at the Poway Unified School District headquarters to call on the district to stop exploring plans for a lease agreement that would bring a Costco to the area.

“We were blindsided by this announcement that Poway was taking a site that was supposed to be a school and turning it into a commercial real estate development,” said Jessica Vogelsang, a parent from the district.

According to board documents, the big-box retailer proposed a 40-year lease for the site with options for two 10-year renewals at a rent price of $2.1 million annually for the first 10 years. It would pay the district more than $4.2 million annually starting in the deal’s 51st year if it were to be renewed as proposed.

Officials say many public hearings would have to take place if the proposal turns into something more solid.

Any action is expected to take years before a deal could be struck, Paik said.

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