Where does open space fit in Carlsbad’s general plan?

The long awaited General Plan for the city of Carlsbad was recently released.

After an investment of over three years and $1 million it should really be something worth waiting for!   Certainly there are some good improvements in the GP. The Mobility Element will continue to move the city towards better pedestrian, bicycle and public transit options.

The new element of Arts, History, Culture and Education will be appreciated by many. But this GP falls far short of delivering on the promises to preserve open space made in 1986 with the Growth Management Plan. It falls far short of fulfilling the current vision of its residents.

What were those promises? The 1986 ballot argument for Proposition E said it: “guarantees that we will always be a low density residential community with 40 percent open space.”  The Proposition E cap on the number of housing units per quadrant combined with specific performance standards for public facilities provided the assurances that the promise would be kept.

Each of 25 Local Facility Management Zones was required to have a minimum 15 percent open space (excluding environmentally constrained or unbuildable land). Each quadrant was required to provide three acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents.

That vision from 1986 was reinforced with the new Carlsbad Community Vision adopted in 2010. The new vision prioritizes protection and enhancement of open space. Sixty five percent of residents surveyed ranked “protecting natural habitats” as their number one priority. That vision fostered active lifestyles and community health by “ furthering access to trails, parks, beaches and other recreation opportunities.”

Now here we are in 2014 and someone’s vision seems to have gotten cloudy. This new GP ignores the promise of 40 percent open space — in fact there is no promise at all. Open space now becomes a general land use goal with numbers varying between 37 and 38 percent.

Reducing open space to 37 percent is equivalent to losing land over 20 times the size of Alga Norte Park! It fails to address the existing shortage of parks and open space, particularly in the older parts of the city. It fails to expand parks while it adds 7,880 housing units and 22,906 residents.

Some park acres are double counted. One future park, Veteran’s, is counted in all four quadrants. There is no recognition of the value of a neighborhood park — one you can walk to pushing a stroller or using a walker. In many neighborhoods the only park is a schoolyard that is now fenced and locked.

Do you want a General Plan that fulfills the community vision and keeps the promises that go back to 1986? Contact us at info@preservecalavera.org or (760) 724-3887 to learn more or attend one of our community meetings. Let’s make sure the future Carlsbad lives up to the vision of its residents.

Diane Nygaard,

Preserve Calavera,

Oceanside

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