Improvements approved for Agua Hedionda

Improvements approved for Agua Hedionda
College Boulevard currently ends at Sunny Creek Road. On Tuesday the City Council approved environmental improvements to the area, in order to make it possible to connect College Boulevard to the northern portion of the road in the future. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — The Agua Hedionda Lagoon has been getting lots of attention lately because of a proposed upscale shopping center, yet the creek that flows into it has been largely out of the spotlight.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved an environmental mitigation plan for a 17-acre parcel northeast of the intersection between College Boulevard and El Camino Real, which will allow for the extension of College Boulevard.

Currently, College Boulevard doesn’t connect at two sites between Cannon Road and Sunny Creek Road.

In order to install a bridge over the creek, the city requires biological mitigation to the site because of the impacts associated with the development, said Associate Planner Shannon Werneke.

“The mitigation site should be within the vicinity of where the impacts are occurring and at a location which is acceptable to the wildlife agencies,” Werneke said.

There is an equestrian center currently on the site, which will be demolished. A vacant house sits on a hill and it also will be demolished.

The surrounding areas are undeveloped and the site is near the Rancho Carlsbad Golf Club.

WP Golf and Equestrian currently own the site.

In 2002, as part of the Environmental Impact Review for the Calavera Hills Master Plan, the College Boulevard extension was approved.

The approval of the mitigation measures will add 5.44 acres to the city’s permanent open space.

The wetland habitat will be improved with the mitigation measurements, said Werneke.

The project will also add about 4.5 homes to the city’s excess dwelling unit bank.

The city’s maximum size for future development is 54,600 dwelling units per quadrant of the city and when a development doesn’t build the allotted amount of homes or apartments, dwelling units are added to the bank, which can be later drawn out for another project.

A special use permit is required for the creek project because of development in the flood plain. The floodplain channel will be widened and the overall floodplain area will be reduced.

“The overall hydrological value and function will be improved with this project,” Werneke said.

The San Luis Rey band of Mission Indians asked to be consulted if any geological or cultural artifacts were found during the grading of the site, which the city agreed to.

The tribe considers the Agua Hedionda Creek and Lagoon sacred because their ancestors worshipped there.

“The places where our ancestors slept, prepared their food, created their tools, and performed their ceremonies still remain,” Chief Legal Counsel Merri Lopez-Keifer wrote in a letter to the city about the Agua Hedionda 85/15 Plan. “Agua Hedionda is sacred for what it was and what it remains today to the Luiseño people.”

This is the first step in getting the site ready for a road extension, which likely won’t happen for years.

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