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Fate of Strawberry Fields to be decided tonight

Carlsbad city council votes tonight on a ballot measure to define the future of the strawberry fields that still line Interstate Five near Cannon Road. The initiative will compete on the November ballot with a citizens' measure to preserve the fields as agricultural land for ever. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

Anyone who drives up Iinterstate 5 knows the rural scene of laborers picking strawberries in fields that stretch to the Agua Hedionda lagoon. But the days of making strawberries pay on the valuable coastal land may be numbered.

Carlsbad city attorney Ron Ball says the city's proposed ballot measure is more realistic than a competing citizens' initiative.

Ball: "Agriculture is allowed to continue so long as its economically feasible, but it also allows the property owner to get out of agriculture business if and when it decides to... the citizens initiative doesn't allow that."

The initiative by Concerned Citizens of Carlsbad would "zone" more than 300 acres as coastal agriculture, preserving the fields from most commercial uses. Ball says that measure would prevent landowner SDG & E from building a hotel and could expose the city to $30 million in liability. Alison St John, KPBS news.

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