Carlsbad approves 20-year plan for city blueprint

Carlsbad approves 20-year plan for city blueprint
City Council approved the General Plan Update Tuesday night, which covered everything from pedestrian friendly streets to housing in the city. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD—After receiving thousands of public comments and dedicating even more staff hours, the city approved the General Plan update at a meeting Tuesday night.

Every city in California is required to have a general plan. It guides every aspect of the city, from roads and pedestrian access, to residential and commercial zoning.

This is the first update since 1994 and is nearly eight years in the making.

Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn said it’s not perfect but he’s proud of it.

“This turned out to be as good as it possibly can. Is it perfect? Nah. We could probably pick it apart and find something wrong with it somewhere but in general, I’m proud to be part of the approval process,” Blackburn said.

The plan is a living document and can be amended as needed.

The council did not include a regulation to set aside 40 percent of land as permanent open space because Councilman Michael Schumacher said, it’s a goal, not a policy.

“I think (40 percent) is achievable at build out,” Schumacher said.

The update also included the city’s first ever Climate Action Plan to meet state goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The long-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.

Carlsbad High School student Arin Zwonitzer asked the council to follow the lead of San Diego and create a goal to have 100 percent renewable energy.

“I am counting on you and holding you responsible to set the bar high,” said Arin Zwonitzer. “I urge the council to believe, for if you do not believe a change can be made then in the end the plan is doomed to fail.”

While the council did not approve a 100 percent clean energy goal, Sierra Club organizer Pete Hasapopoulos said the environmental group still scored a win.

The council approved an addition to the general plan to study the feasibility of Community Choice Aggregation, which is a local government-led program that increases sustainable energy options and reduces energy costs.

In Marin, the local government partnered with Sonoma County to incentivize solar energy at local businesses and lowered the cost of energy.

The mobility element, which was formerly the circulation element, also put an emphasis on pedestrian and bike accessibility to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

City Planner David de Cordova said staff shifted the focus from capacity building to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and overall vehicle miles traveled.

Another major point of discussion was the commercial and residential project near Ponto Beach called Ponto Beachfront, which is proposed by Shopoff Realty.

The residential portion of the project was changed to lower density after residents of nearby San Pacifico expressed concern.

Another portion will be a mix between commercial uses and residential apartments.

Residents near Sunny Creek, a 17-acre piece of land on the corner of College Boulevard and El Camino Real also scored a win.

The Planning Commission approved a recommendation to lessen the amount of housing units allowed on the site after nearby residents protested.

However, not every speaker left the meeting with a compromise.

Oceanside Councilman Jack Feller brought up Cannon Road and asked the city to re-consider expanding the road, which currently has a large chunk missing near College Boulevard extending eastward.

Mayor Matt Hall said three out of five years the project was in the top priorities for capital improvements but he said they couldn’t get a consensus among surrounding neighbors.

He said neighbors fought the city because they didn’t want an increase in traffic.

“Over the years for us, it’s become less and less necessary,” said Hall.

No plans to expand the roadway were included in the General Plan update, which was approved unanimously.

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