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Carlsbad Mayor Takes Stock After Measure A Defeat

Photo caption: The Yes on A tent being dismantled in Carlsbad, March 1, 2016.

Photo by Alison St John

The Yes on A tent being dismantled in Carlsbad, March 1, 2016.

Measure A in Carlsbad was defeated -52 percent "no" to 48 percent "yes", but the battle over the Agua Hedionda lagoon is not over. Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said it’s too soon to consider other projects, but the site is still a valuable piece of property.

Carlsbad voters defeated Measure A by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, but the battle over the Agua Hedionda lagoon is not over.

Mayor Matt Hall told KPBS last week that it’s too soon to consider other projects, but the site is still a valuable piece of property.

Hall said the Encina Power Station next to the site is due to close next year, possibly adding to the value of the land, especially if San Diego Gas & Electric removes the switching station.

The mayor is taking stock after the measure's defeat two weeks ago, despite it having the City Council's unanimous support. The project's developer, Rick Caruso, also spent $10 million on the campaign.

Photo by Alison St John

An overflow crowd fills the courtyard outside Carlsbad City Hall, as the City Council votes on a plan to build a shopping center on the shores of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Aug. 25, 2015.

Hall said he got the message that citizens don’t want a high-end shopping center on the shores of the Agua Hedionda lagoon, and he’ll sit down with opponents to try to close the rift that split the community.

“Let’s calm down and think about what makes Carlsbad great, and let’s keep working toward that," he said.

Hall does not regret voting to approve the initiative last summer, rather than putting it on the ballot at that point. Many opponents were angry when the City Council approved the plan, leading to a referendum to overturn the vote.

“I haven’t really thought about that,” Hall said. “I did what I thought was right at the time, and I haven’t looked back on my decision.”

Hall said it was Caruso who chose to try the initiative process rather than go through the normal CEQA environmental review.

“Developers are very smart and are making big investments, and they have to make the choice as to how they choose to process,” Hall said. “Part of that is they need to have a clear understanding of the communities in which they are working. And in this case, it’s very clear they want to have things processed through CEQA."

Caruso has declined to comment on any next step. In a statement, he said, “While we had hoped for a different outcome, we are proud of our effort, our plan, the integrity of our message, and we are thankful for the great friends and supporters we have made over the past four years.”

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