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Poway Unified wants a Costco store on school land

The school board voted to move forward with the multi-decade lease.

SAN DIEGO — Another land-development battle is brewing in the North County, over a proposed big-box store, shopping and housing complex.

Land once zoned for a middle school in Black Mountain Ranch may end up being a Costco store and shopping mall on property owned by the Poway Unified School District.

Poway Unified school board members voted Thursday night in favor of plan to lease 27 acres at the intersection of Carmel Valley Road and Camino Del Sur to Costco.

Opposition from neighbors is starting to grow.

“A Costco is a big box store coming into a residential area,” said neighbor and mother of two, Tatiana Dupuy.

Poway Unified owns the land but wants to lease it to Costco for up to 60 years, starting at $2 million per year and eventually increasing to $4 million annually.

The school district said a middle school is no longer needed at the site, so it declared the land surplus property in 2012, and again in 2019.

“A lot of the homeowners in this area bought properties here assuming that this was going to be a middle school,” said Dupuy.

As a homeowner, Dupuy has been paying Mello-Roos taxes to Poway Unified for the purpose of the district building schools. Now, she's worried about traffic, noise and safety.

“This intersection that this Costco is being placed at has had several deadly car accidents,” she said.

Other parents said a middle school is needed in the area because Poway Unified classes are crowded.

“With 500-plus homes being put in within the last three years, there's children for these schools,” said neighbor Chasmine Grismer.

The Santaluz resident worries about the character of her community.

“We live in a dark-sky, planned community.  It's very nature-friendly.  We have miles and miles of trails within our community.  The environmental impact would be crushing,” Grismer said.

The Poway Unified School District emailed News 8 a statement that said the deal is far from done.

“The District would still negotiate the terms of the lease, which the Board would need to approve. Then Costco would begin its community outreach about the project, through community meetings, surveys, studies, etc.  It's a lengthy process,” a PUSD spokesperson wrote.

The Costco development also would include other retail businesses, restaurants and housing on the property.

It is likely the development would have to be approved by voters, according to PUSD discussion at Thursday’s board meeting.

Currently, there is a Costco nearby; seven miles away in Carmel Mountain Ranch.

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