CARLSBAD — The city’s General Plan is being updated for the first time since 1994 and open space in Carlsbad has concerned some residents, causing the Council to hold a special meeting on Tuesday.
The Council received a presentation on the city’s open space policies and how they relate to both the General Plan and the Growth Management Plan. Presenters also aimed to clarify information about open space that has been brought up by Preserve Calavera, an organization that hopes to preserve open space in Carlsbad.
One of the main talking points was about the “40 percent” open space law.
An argument in favor of Proposition E in 1986 signed by four members of city council stated that 40 percent of the city will remain as open space, but the 40 percent was never a requirement, since it didn’t appear in the initiative, said David de Cordova, principal planner for the Community and Economic Development Department.
President of Preserve Calavera, Dianne Nygaard said while the 40 percent was never in the plans, it was a promise heard time and again.
“It’s been repeated through the years and is part of the reason people chose to move to Carlsbad,” Nygaard told the Council.
De Cordova said by 2035 the city will fall just short of having 40 percent of open space.
The 40 percent estimate was conceived because about 25 percent of the city cannot physically be developed due to steep slopes, wetlands and other constraints combined with the 15 percent of new developments that must be set aside as stated in the Growth Management Plan.
Residents asked the city to be aspirational when it comes to planning for open space.
“The 37.7 percent that we have leaves us short by 570 acres, which is the equivalent of 17 Alga Norte parks. And the 39 percent we will have is still going to leave us significantly short,” said Paige DeCino, of Carlsbad.
Steve Jantz, associate engineer for the Parks and Recreation Department, points out that 81 percent of residents agree that Carlsbad protects and enhances the open space and the natural environment, according to the Annual Residence Satisfaction survey the city administers.
De Cordova added that the amount of Carlsbad’s preserved acreage is nearly double that of neighboring cities.
During the informational meeting residents also raised concerns about the city counting school fields and courts as parkland in the park inventory. Mary Anne Viney of James Drive told the council that after driving around northwestern Carlsbad, she saw that all schoolyards were locked and closed to the public, save for Buena Vista Elementary School, which was open to a program.
De Cordova stated that eight schoolyards are counted in the parkland inventory, and are open between 3 and 9 p.m. and weekends.
The informational meeting highlighted that the city does have more open space than its neighbors but some residents feel there is more the city can do to increase open space and parks, including opening the Buena Vista Reservoir to the public.
The city will have a public hearing later this year about the updates to the General Plan and will likely finalize the plan by the end of 2014, according to Kristina Ray, communications manager for the city.