CARLSBAD — Scrutinizing the Quarry Creek housing development proposal, City Council questioned traffic mitigation efforts and financial feasibility of the project, as well as considered the recommendations of the Planning Commission, at its March 26 meeting.
Brought forth by developer Corky McMillin Companies, the Quarry Creek Master Plan project proposes to build about 600 housing units. The development site would encompass 156 acres south of Haymar Drive and west of College Boulevard along the border between Carlsbad and Oceanside.
The project, with its high and medium high residential densities, would greatly assist the city with meeting its imminent state housing requirements.
Senior City Planner Van Lynch presented an updated overview of the Quarry Creek project that implemented recommendations made by the Planning Commission. These adjustments included a reduction in the number of housing units from 656 to 600 as well as eliminating the building over the project’s planning areas P-5 and R-5 to preserve the view from the historic Marron Adobe.
After hearing an extensive presentation from Lynch and other city staff as well as over two and a half hours of public comments, council honed in on the unmitigated effects of increased traffic and how many housing units are necessary to make the project financially feasible for the developer.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion of the traffic because that is the one factor that hasn’t been mitigated,” said Councilmember Mark Packard.
Staff asserted that to avoid all traffic increases the housing project would have to be reduced to 250 housing units or fewer.
Carlsbad’s Deputy Transportation Director Bryan Jones said that the traffic increases would only result in delays that are a few seconds long thanks to the improvements that the developer would make to city streets.
Pushing against calls to reduce the number of housing units in the project from planning commissioners and residents, McMillin staff presented how different housing unit numbers would affect the cost and revenues of the project.
Primarily, the developers’ findings asserted that reducing the housing numbers would not proportionately reduce the costs of the project due to the extensive public property improvements required for housing of any kind. They further emphasized that while the cost would not decrease greatly with fewer housing units, the potential revenues would.
Throughout the meeting, McMillin staff reiterated its efforts to satisfy requests from city staff and local residents and its determination to get approval for the project.
“Frankly, we know what the impacts of the project are and we’ve identified solutions for them,” said McMillin Senior Vice President Todd Galaraneau.
Responding to the majority of public comments in opposition to the project at the meeting, he said, “You’ve heard a lot of testimony tonight, a lot in support, a lot in opposition, but the one thing you didn’t hear are any new issues.”
“We’re not going anywhere,” said Mark McMillin, the company’s president and CEO, emphasizing the developer’s history in the area and investment in the Quarry Creek project.
By the end of the late night meeting, City Council agreed to vote on the project at next week’s meeting.
But Mayor Matt Hall’s questions about meeting the housing element deadlines in late April, in light of the delay, hinted that council did not intend to deny the project outright.