City Council votes 4-0 to confirm termination of Winston’s lease for failure to cure default

At a special meeting of the City Council today, the Council voted 4-0 (Druker recused) to confirm termination of The Winston School’s lease. This is a dramatic turn in a protracted clash between Winston and the City, as Winston’s landlord, over lease terms.


The basis for the termination is Winston’s alleged failure to achieve the first “Redevelopment Milestone” required by the lease: submission of a complete development application for the “demolition, removal, and replacement (or major remodel)…” of the leasehold’s improvements. The City Council deemed Winston’s proposed development as incomplete as required by the lease, and not rising to the level of a “major remodel” as the minimum required by the lease, thus falling short of curing the default. The proposal failed to show how it would bring all buildings up to current code and meet Winston’s parking requirements on its leasehold.

Photo from the HISTORIC STRUCTURE ASSESSMENT FOR THE WINSTON SCHOOL COMPLEX dated August 10, 2021 and submitted as a red dot for the August 11, 2021 Special Council Meeting.

The original deadline for this milestone was December 31, 2019, extended based on 2018-2020 lease discussions to October 6, 2020. With no complete development application submitted by early October 2020, the City issued a 90-day “notice to cure” to Winston, setting the stage for today’s action. The City extended the deadline to “cure” the alleged lease violation several times: from Jan. 6, 2021 to April 8, 2021 to June 8, 2021. A major City Council decision occurred on May 17, 2021, described in the Staff Report for today’s meeting as follows, and extending the deadline to July 23, 2021:


“On May 17, 2021, the City Council reviewed the submittal provided by [Winston] in April 2021 (agenda report included as Attachment B). It was moved by Mayor Gaasterland, seconded by Councilmember Martinez, that the Winston School needed to amend their Development Application to include Building 5 in accordance with the lease; show how they are going to address parking long-term within their leasehold area and how the resulting development will bring Buildings 1 through 5 up to current codes; and extending the current deadline from June 8, 2021 by 45 days to Friday, July 23, 2021 (Vote 4-0, with Councilmember Druker recused).”


In response, on various dates in June and July, Winston submitted revised plans, which were determined by the Planning Department to be incomplete, with corrections and comments forwarded to Winston. Finally, Winston was notified that the City Council would consider its final July 19 submittal on August 11, 2021.


The Council had three choices today, per the Staff Report:

  1. Direct the Interim City Manager to sign [Winston’s] Development Application; or
  2. Provide feedback to [Winston] related to the proposed plan and extend the notice to cure period; or
  3. Confirm termination of the lease for failure to cure the default.

The Council chose the third option, rather than providing yet more feedback and yet another extension of the deadline to “cure” – and there was no support on Council to direct the City Manager to sign the development application. With Del Mar community views represented today with just one resident’s speaker slip and one resident’s red dot, perhaps the protracted struggle to resolve the redevelopment dispute has come close to exhausting the community as well as the Council.


Note: The September issue of the Sandpiper will update this breaking news item.


For more details:

The Special Meeting Packet for today’s meeting includes a staff report with seven documents attached (City letters to Winston and a prior Agenda Report).

Special Meeting Packet

Winston’s perspectives can be found in the Media Center page of its website, in a series of posts under “News.”


Winston’s Media Center