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Vote On Proposed Carlsbad Development Too Close To Call

Photo by Alison St John

A ballot box during Carlsbad's special election to decide the fate of a development, Feb. 23, 2016.

Photo credit: City of Carlsbad

A rendering of the shopping and dining promenade at the proposed development on the shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad.

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A ballot measure that would allow an upscale retail and dining center to be built along the shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad trailed by 186 votes early Wednesday, but approximately 7,100 mail and provisional ballots remained to be counted.

Final results of a special election to decide the fate of a retail and dining center to be built along the shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad may not be known until next week, county Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said Wednesday.

Measure A was trailing by 186 votes Wednesday, but around 7,100 mail and provisional ballots remained to be counted, he said.

At the end of Tuesday night's counting, the "no" votes totaled 16,727, or 50.28 percent, to 16,541 "yes" votes, or 49.72 percent.

"We are so proud of the people of Carlsbad. They demonstrated their passion for this community and their intent to leave a valuable legacy to the next generation," said DeAnn Weimer of the No on A campaign.

Turn out for the election was high with more than 52 percent of registered voters going to the polls. Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said that in the San Diego mayor's race to replace Bob Filner, turn out was about 35 percent. He said turn out for the Carlsbad election could be more than 56 percent when all of the votes are tallied.

The development 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. Westfield still owns UTC, which is 20 miles away.

Caruso planned 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.

Opponents were also concerned that the developer sidestepped the rigorous California Environmental Quality Act process by using a citizens' initiative to get approval for the plan.

In a statement the city of Carlsbad said: "As we await the final election results, we remain committed to working with residents on all sides of this issue so we can better understand each other’s perspectives and use that understanding to make sure Carlsbad remains a place we are all proud to call home."

Vu said updated results would be posted by the close of business Thursday and again Friday. Staff will also work through the weekend, with more results posted Monday, he said.

"Monday won't be the last report, but the majority of the mail ballots should be in the count by then," Vu said. "Provisional ballots take longer to process and I don't see that being complete until the end of next week, if not longer."

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