Final draft update planned; residents protest

Final draft update planned; residents protest
Some residents in Carlsbad protest high-density housing in the property on the corner of College Boulevard and El Camino Real on Wednesday. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — On July 18, the City Council is holding a hearing on an update to the General Plan.

It’s a final step in a process that has lasted nearly eight years.

The city has held dozens of meetings and gathered thousands of comments on developing the city’s blueprint.

The General Plan outlines the city’s goals, policies and programs, which guide how the city will develop, look and function.

It dictates where and the amount of homes and businesses that can be built and how people will move around the city.

The plan incorporated thousands of public comments that were obtained during the city’s outreach project called Envision Carlsbad.

The last time the general plan was updated was in 1994 and all cities in California are required to have an updated one to stay consistent with regulations and community needs.

A handful of residents on Wednesday held a protest to raise awareness of the meeting.

They’re worried the piece of land on the corner of El Camino Real and College Boulevard will be developed into high-density housing.

“I know something’s going in there, that’s a given,” nearby resident Lora Zaroff said. “We’d like it to stay 182 units.”

The piece of land is zoned for a mixed-use residential and commercial shopping center with 9.6 acres set aside for housing.

According to the General Plan draft update, “a total of 182 dwelling units have been allocated to the site for growth management,” for the Sunny Creek Development.

However the zoning allows for up to 221 units.

“The council is allowing the developer to do whatever they want,” Madeleine Szabo said.

The protesters Wednesday said they just want assurance that the site will not be home to more than 182 units.

“What we want is for them to keep it at medium residential housing,” Szabo said.

Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio said the owner, Carlsbad-based Foursquare Properties, asked to change a portion of the property from commercial to higher density residential.

Barberio said there are more requests for zone changes than will be approved in the final Draft Plan update.

“We have to do some of it to meet our housing element numbers, but we don’t have to do all of it,” Barberio said.

The recommendation for 182 units is a staff recommendation and the ultimate decision will be left to council.

Szabo said she’s concerned more housing will impact the traffic and the environment.

“We can’t be doing that to our environment, just building every square inch,” Szabo said.

One of the core elements determined in Envision Carlsbad is beach community character and connectedness.

Szabo said she’s worried the Sunny Creek development will hurt the small town feel.

In 2007, Walmart purchased the site from Foursquare Properties but after extensive public outcry, the big-box store decided not to pursue the project.

According to Barberio, Foursquare either has purchased it back or has the right to purchase it back before Walmart sells to another company.

Representatives from Foursquare were not available by press time.

The meeting on July 18 will be one of the public’s final opportunities to comment on the General Plan draft update before the final changes are made.

The Planning Commission will then set a date to deliberate and make a recommendation to the City Council.

After that, the council will hold a hearing and limit public testimony to discussions on changes made after the July 18 meeting.

The meeting takes place July 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1635 Faraday Ave.

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