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Carlsbad Shopping Center Project To Go Before Voters

The Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, July 2015.
Bev Woodworth
The Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, July 2015.

UPDATED: 7 a.m. Nov. 18, 2015

Carlsbad residents will go to the polls for a special election Feb. 23 to vote on a proposed outdoor shopping center on the shores of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

Carlsbad City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to put the issue on the ballot as soon as possible, and not wait until the general election, though that would have saved the city half a million dollars.

In a statement the City Council said:

"We have thoroughly reviewed this plan, including extensive technical and environmental studies, and continue to believe the benefits are far greater than any other commercial development that would eventually be built on this land. We also respect the referendum process and support Carlsbad voters having an opportunity to make a final decision at the first available opportunity.”

Opponents of the project called the project "rampant and unchecked development " and said the vote should be held in conjunction with the primary in June or the general election in November to give people time to study the issue.

The developer's spokesman said the project has been debated for months already and it should go to the ballot in February to let voters have an opportunity to decide as soon as possible.

Original story:

The Carlsbad City Council will vote Tuesday night on whether to hold a special election on a proposed outdoor shopping center on the shores of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

The City Council has several options.

It could rescind its approval of the developer’s initiative, throwing the ball back into the court of Los Angeles-based Rick Development.

Caruso plans to develop 15 percent of a 200-acre property by the lagoon, and preserve the rest as open space. Caruso chose to take an unusual route to get approval, using an initiative instead of the usual longer process defined by California’s environmental quality laws.

But a successful referendum has forced the issue back on the table.

The council could put the issue on the ballot in the next general election cycle in June or November 2016.

But the quickest way to a public vote would be a special election. A special election needs to be no sooner than 88 days away to give the registrar of voters time to prepare. That would be in February.

If the council decides to hold a special election, it would cost the city half a million dollars.