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Carlsbad Voters Will Soon Decide On Shopping Center Proposed For Lagoon

The site of a new outdoor mall proposed by Caruso Affiliated on the south side of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, May 12, 2015.
Alison St John
The site of a new outdoor mall proposed by Caruso Affiliated on the south side of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, May 12, 2015.

Carlsbad Voters Will Soon Decide On Shopping Center Proposed For Lagoon
Carlsbad Measure A Down To the WireGUESTS:DeAnn Weimer, Citizens for North County Bryce Ross, vice president of development, Caruso Affiliated

Mail in ballots for Carlsbad measure a. A special election to plan a shopping mall on top of the strawberry field should move forward. A plan by Caruso development was approved by them last summer opponents collected enough signatures to bring the issue to a public vote. The project to be built along the banks of the Agua lagoon, the 8515 plan because developers say they will preserve 85% of the 203 acre property as open space here it and use 15% as a retail center. But that is just about everything else about this issue is subject to interpretation. Joining me is Deann Weimer of the advocacy group citizens of North County who oppose measure a. Welcome to the program here at and rice Ross is seared with Caruso development and they support measure a. Think having his back. Bryce who is the shopping center being built. of the citizens of Carlsbad or do you suspected to be a regional destination X that is a great question. The reason we considered a non-tran2 is that they are shopping outside of Carlsbad . If you spoke with them directly they would tell you they are driving to Orange County to shop, and all of those tax dollars are leaving Carlsbad . Basically, is for the citizens of Carlsbad . To make it is. It is so focused that we spent three years interview thousands of Carlsbad residents to find out what they wanted . And from those interviews, that is the basis of the 8515 plan. That is how the whole idea in setting aside open space came about directly from Carlsbad residents . Just if you couldn't elaborate on the 8515, seven -- concept? There is a lot of misunderstanding in Carlsbad as it relates to what open space means . In fact in 2016 -- 2006 the. It took 100 and It took 185 acres and set it aside as "open space. Now most people Carlsbad do not know that that definition of open space allows for all sorts of civic holdings, City Hall, museums, queued in the learning centers, aquariums, and up to 50% of that land that is called open space. That is what Deann and citizens for County are saying, it is protected as open space. Open space means free from buildings. And that is what measure a does it sets open space free from buildings, except for two. The farm stand, for the Carlsbad strawberry company, and the restaurant which makes arboriculture sustainable for generations to calm. --, Peer to dispute the amount of land that will be going to open space X let me go back to the issue of traffic. And who this is built for. According to Caruso affiliated car this was or will bring 12 to 13,000,000 people to Carlsbad and to this very precious deserve and bring incredible traffic issues to cannon road and I five 135% increase in traffic at that location on these tours visiting this particular location. And furthermore, in their own report, they described this as a super regional shopping mall. Which means that it will draw, 1,000,000 ft.² to be classified Technicolor and it will draw more than 25 minutes away to come to this particular mall. So, you see as a regional destination point that is going in. If indeed measure eight succeeds. Let me go back and ask you about the amount of land that will go into open space as this is a pivotal part of this whole plan. This 8515 plan do you dispute the amount of land that will be going into open space? Yes, because they made in inaccurate comparison. This plan B defines open space with five new categories that do not exist in Carlsbad as a definition for open space here and what he is talking about in terms of these, he doesn't mention black level parking, that is a part of open space under this definition, and he fails to mention that land was that was protected will be turned into eight lanes of roadway, in and out, going through the open space that we felt we protected, instead we will have eight lands of traffic going through to reach the small. Really go to you Bryce, what is your response? Central to the opposition that this project is too big for the area here at Maureen, this is a prom example of what has just been said. As trying to keep up the opposition, trying to confuse Carlsbad residents. Our own report classifies as a 1,000,000 ft.² and she knows that is not true. In the cities 9212 reported's square footage of 585,000 where feet, which is not a super regional mambo city's definition, furthermore, the description of her description is totally unfounded. If you look at the cities 9212 report which is the city's independent analysis of our traffic report, they hired independent experts to review it. They find not only red light will be reduced to cause of the significant investment that we are making can traffic across the city top of traffic will actually flow better throughout the city with the plan than without it now that is astounding. They look at every intersection that we will have traffic flowing through and will be reduced at every single one. Red light. Deann, question to you is, some and tape measure material talks about stopping this plan in order to keep Carlsbad -- small-town five -- by. Is that the fundamental issue here, whether or not you have a lot more traffic at a certain dissection? Will this change what Carlsbad is in your opinion? Our opinion it will turn Carlsbad much more like LA or Orange County in terms of as how we are developed as a community and perceive. The go back to address with Bryce just said. It is their own report that identifies himself as a superregional mall heard and they do that for a specific reason. Because they want to minimize the impact on the small businesses in our community here if you say you are a superregional cop I definition your calculation is different from a small businesses you take out this particular development. And to go back to these idea that this is going to be a great benefit for the city of Carlsbad, according to the 9212 report , and the city's analysis of this, what they are saying is, the revenues from this are so questionable that they cannot be included in city staff plan for the budget of this community. That is a serious problem. And to turn around and now say, no we want to have it both ways, they want to be big when they are talking about the impact on the local businesses. But they want to be small when they are talking about how their footprint on that land. I want to go to price and respond. This again, is another example of trying to spread misinformation. The speaker with a said about the 9212 report. Morrison income to the city is difficult to forecast. But what they said is that the sales test, the property tax, all the additional fees go into the city, on the annual basis will generate $2.6 million of net benefit to the general fund after all costs are paid, no disputing it. That is a conservative estimate. One of the reasons, that this development developed a way that a has in the public space, is that you have decided that Caruso decided to use a citizens initiative to put this before the city Council. In order to avoid the usual SQL environmental review process, and I am wondering why you did that, and do you think that this much opposition will be facing you if you have gone through the original SQL environmental process and not try to sidestep? There is to reasons that we went the route that we did. The 9212 throughout the reelections code is regal -- legal. In 2014 found and confirmed that is legal. And the reason they confirmed it is because SQL is widely abused by North County, preserve Talavera. If you look at the major funding that is being funded to citizens for them, coming from West to third why is that? Why would citizens from North County be receiving money from West built? Because West deal does not want us to build in Carlsbad as they know that he could take shoppers coming from Carlsbad away from UTC. It is interesting, Westville used to own a mall in Carlsbad which for 10 years they never invested in. But rather than investing in them all to compete cod they give money to citizens from North County, so they can find -- by us to stop. White except in money from West built? We received a donation of $75,000. And I think this was just sort of a more to tweak the hostility up Caruso affiliated thing to give us enough money to fight. One who has spent $7 million trying to talk louder than we are about what the issues are on this particular case and situation. And I think it is a completely spacious argument. The other thing, friends, have sued over Sikh worker they have never sued over SQL, but this is a line that they bring forward. And they say over and over that we are just in the business. Developers, hitting in the business to get money. What they do not want to talk about is the fact that the city of Carlsbad has used SQL 2 sue the school district to stop the building got that Sage Creek high school, and they also sued over traffic. So when the city of Carlsbad wants to sue, when other organizations do, then it is not okay. Only one percent. I encourage everyone to look at a project called the bridges in Carlsbad. And look at the involvement . To follow up on my statement copy for about Westfield and groups like citizens from North County abusing SQL, look at the project. It was approved through the SQL route just this month. They are under 15 SQL lawsuit here Peter Lowy the CEO and president of the Westfield group, literally came into our office two years ago and said that if you do not buy my mall, and if you don't -- build anything other than a grocery anchored shopping center I was sue you. Its keep this in Carlsbad ^ that is actually what has happened. Bryce, Deann brings up a point. This is a really David and Goliath situation when it comes to the amount of money being spent. Pro-measure a as opposed of anti-measure a peer and I am wondering, do you think that your TV ads, and your other promotional materials, and as in total the 52 $7 million that Caruso has been promoting this project. Will swing get -- will swing this election in your favorite we what happens is groups come out to vote, and ones that are passionate something, think it will pass so, our jobs to make sure that everyone in Carlsbad called the register voters have all the information that they need to make an informed decision. That is what we have an information center on the shrubbery Fields property to put in perspective, the minute that we opened that tent, citizens for North County cost sent a letter to the city, water board and do the coastal commission trying to shut our information tent, so the voters in Carlsbad cannot be informed. That is curious as well. That information tent does not even have we are boating on in it, at least it did not as of last week. Deann, there have been reports for a while now that most Carlsbad residents to favor the center. Not the least there it well, the property has been sown for it development for 20 years, something will be built there to you feel you may be swimming against the tide on this? No, not the least. People realize that when someone sends multiple millions to the home every day, they spend this much money on clothing goal that's, that there's something more there. And they want to ask and have questions answered in a realistic manner. And the fact that we do not have the plans of we have not Seeman, we haven't been asked to go on this, is questionable. And I think we are concerned that people are being misled and misguided by the Caruso affiliated operation. I want to go back to it hurt I do not have time to go back with that kind so sorry. People Websites. Citizens for North County.work. And ours is yes on is called the.org. More important to go to the city of Carlsbad website with a have entire page dedicated to a third Bryce Ross of Caruso development and Diane. Both very much. Thank you Maureen.

To argue the proposition that there's nothing more contentious, or complicated, than land use, Carlsbad's upcoming special election would be exhibit A.

Or Measure A, to be exact.

The land in question is about 200 acres just off the Interstate 5 on Cannon Road. The developer, Caruso Affiliated of Los Angeles, has spent more than $7 million to tout their "85/15" plan, which puts an upscale shopping and dining center on the 15 percent of the parcel which fronts the Agua Hediondo Lagoon. It leaves the rest of the land open.

Opponents, primarily Citizens for North County, say the plan is too big and too dense for the area, will increase traffic and the preserved open space was already safe from development.

Bryce Ross, the vice president of development for Caruso Affiliated, told KPBS Midday Edition the measure is meant to benefit residents of Carlsbad. He said it would further protect open space, because the current definition allows several types of civic buildings.

"Measure A sets that open space free from buildings, except for two," he said. "That is the farm stand for the Carlsbad Strawberry Company and the farm-to-table restaurant, which makes agriculture sustainable for generations to come."

But DeAnn Weimer with Citizens for North County said that was a "completely inaccurate description of the proposal."

She said Measure A would bring 12 to 13 million people to Carlsbad "and this precious reserve" and would increase traffic and congestion. She also said it would redefine open space to allow flat level parking and "eight lanes of roadway."

Ross countered that studies have found traffic will flow better under Measure A's proposed changes.

Caruso gathered enough signatures to place a "Citizens' Initiative" for the project on the ballot. It passed, thus avoiding a review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

He said avoiding the environmental review was "perfectly legal," and that Caruso decided to go that route because groups like Citizens for North County abuse CEQA laws to stop development. Weimer said other entities, including the city of Carlsbad, use CEQA to stop projects as well.

The complex dance continued when opponents gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the initiative on the ballot.

And so here we are, if you're still following all this.

Voting begins Jan. 25. The final day to vote is Feb. 23.

Corrected: October 7, 2022 at 12:17 AM PDT
An earlier version of this story said Bryce Ross told KPBS Midday Edition Measure A would not benefit his company. He did not say that phrase.
What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.