debunking measure a claims regarding open space, public access, aNd trails

Citizens for North County

A Letter Written by: M.Holzmiller - Retired Carlsbad Planning Director

The proponents of the 585,000 sq. ft. shopping mall that would be approved if Measure A passes on February 23, 2016 tout its "extraordinary" benefits to open space, public access and trails. Here are some facts.

Open Space-Nearly 90% of the open space provided by the project is already permanently protected as open space by Proposition D approved by Carlsbad voters in 2006. A majority of the additional 21 acres of open space provided by the project is underneath major SDG&E power transmission lines and cannot be developed anyway. Measure A even allows parking for the shopping mall to be constructed in this additional open space area. The city's Growth Management Plan requires all developers to provide 15% of "otherwise developable property" as additional open space and specifically lists power transmission lines as not counting toward the required additional open space. No other major projects that have been approved by the city since the approval of the Growth Management Plan have been allowed to meet Plan's additional open space requirement in this fashion. Given that fact that almost all of the project's open space is already permanently protected as open space by Proposition D, the fact that the project is counting power transmission lines as additional open space, the fact that the project is using some of the additional open space required by the Growth Management Plan as shopping mall parking, the reality is that Measure A completely overstates the open space benefits to the residents of Carlsbad.

Public Access to Open Space-The proponents of Measure A have stated that for the first time ever, the measure will allow the public the right to use and have access to the open space portion of the project. The facts are that for over 35 years, the city has had the legal right to use a major portion of the open space for public open space uses. The city presently has a lease with SDG&E on 91 acres of the open space, known as the "Hub Park " lease. The lease was entered into in 1975 as part of the city's approval of expansion of the Encina Power Plant. The lease allows the city to publicly use and access the area for public park or recreational uses. Measure A contains a copy of the lease but, curiously, allows for the automatic cancellation of the lease if the measure passes.

Funding of Trails-Do the citizens of Carlsbad need to approve a 585,000 sq. B. shopping mall on the shoreline of Agua Hedionda Lagoon in order to fund a few miles of trails that are being proposed by Measure A on the open space lands already permanently protected by Proposition D? The answer is no. In 2002, Carlsbad voters approved a Proposition, Proposition C, which authorized the city to fund four projects. The projects included: 1) the public safety training center, 2) the swim complex at Alga Norte Park, 3) the extension of Cannon Road and 4) open space and trails projects. In 2012, the city designated $5 million of the Proposition C funding to open space and trails. Since the approval of Proposition C, the city has constructed the training center, has built the swimming complex at Alga Norte Park, has deleted the proposal to extend Cannon Road but has not spent one dime of the Proposition C money allocated to open space and trail projects. The reality is that the city does not have to rely on a private developer to fund trails on the Proposition D lands. The city already has legal public access to the lands and already has voter approved funding to build trails on the land.

Michael J. Holzmiller, Retired Carlsbad Planning Director