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Carlsbad Staff Says Proposed Development Complies With Planning Policy

Photo by Bev Woodworth

Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, July 2015.

Carlsbad city staff have given their thumbs up to a developer’s plan to build a shopping center on fields overlooking the Agua Hedionda lagoon. The project is up for a City Council vote later this month.

Carlsbad city staff concluded Caruso Affiliated’s plan to build an upscale, outdoor shopping center overlooking the Agua Hedionda Lagoon may have exaggerated the benefits, but complies with city planning policies.

Caruso spokesman Bryce Ross said the plan reflects three years of public outreach into what the public wants: A place to spend time with friends and family.

“We appreciate the city of Carlsbad’s thorough and independent review," Ross said. “Through the report, the city concurs it’s generally consistent with the city’s planning and development standards, and also that the plan and its environmental protection features are consistent with what would otherwise have been provided through a normal EIR CEQA process.”

Opponents said the developer is presenting a specific plan in the form of a citizen’s initiative which avoids rigorous CEQA review. De-Ann Weimer, a member of the opposition group “Citizens of North County,” said the plan does not contain enough detail to merit final approval.

“This is asking people to assess a concept, instead of actually assessing a plan,” Weimer said. “It’s pretty clear from the consultants they worked with that it’s not fair to ask the city staff to come up with any kind of conclusion because they simply don’t have enough information.”

Weimer said, for example, city consultants say there is little information about how the soil on the site is contaminated with pesticides from years of growing strawberries and tomatoes. This could involve removing tons of soil before the site can be made safe for public access.

Once the Registrar of Voters confirms enough signatures were gathered to qualify as a citizen’s initiative, the Carlsbad City Council will decide (likely on Aug. 25) whether to approve the plan or put it on the ballot for a public vote.

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