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Carlsbad Voters Will Decide On Proposed Shopping Center Tuesday

The fate of a proposed retail and dining development on the shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon will be decided by Carlsbad residents Tuesday in a special election.

Photo by Bev Woodworth

The Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, July 2015.

The center planned by Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated has drawn opposition from environmental groups and mall owner Westfield, until recently the owner of a shopping center near Carlsbad's northern city limits.

Caruso plans to build on 15 percent of the 203-acre property and leave the rest as open space. A popular family-owned strawberry farm alongside Interstate 5 would be allowed to remain in operation.

The plans were approved last year by the Carlsbad City Council, but opponents — concerned about the size of the proposed buildings and worsening traffic congestion — collected enough petition signatures to force it to a public vote.

"Voting yes on Measure A will provide miles of trails in newly accessible open space — 176 acres for passive use at no cost to taxpayers — where students will have more opportunities to learn," said Maureen Simons, chairwoman of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation.

"Today, when we need more teaching space for nature programs than the limited space available, students and instructors gather on gravel-covered parking areas," Simons said. "Voting yes on Measure A means there will be a wonderful outdoor classroom built on private land that will finally be accessible to all of Carlsbad, after having been off-limits to the public for decades."

Bridget Larson Wright, a lifetime resident of Carlsbad, countered at a recent forum that the center would bring in six times the amount of traffic as the nearby Legoland California Resort.

"This project is not being built for the citizens of Carlsbad," Wright said. "It is being built for tourists."

Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said 59 polling places will be set up around Carlsbad. Voters who haven't returned their mail ballots can drop them off at a polling place or at the Registrar's Office, 5600 Overland Ave. in Kearny Mesa.

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