This is the final article in a three-part series on Measure A
CARLSBAD — On Tuesday, the vote counting will begin on Measure A, otherwise known as the 85/15 plan, which proposes to develop 26 acres for a luxury mall and 177 acres for open space including hiking trails on the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
The Coast News has summarized several aspects of the 9212 report, which was commissioned by the city of Carlsbad’s with numerous independent firms to review Caruso Affiliated’s 4,000-page document commissioned by the Kosmont Group.
This is the final summary from The Coast News to give readers a brief insight into the report and its findings. The full document can be found on the city’s website.
In this installment, The Coast News covers the environmental issues surrounding the site and what, if any, potential concerns may arise from developing the land.
The city’s staff concludes 85/15 is consistent with planning framework of city’s General Plan, Draft General Plan Update and Draft Climate Action Plan.
Measure A, however, is still subject for approval by the California Coastal Commission for consistency with the Coastal Act and development policies including those defined in the Agua Hedionda Land Use Plan. The commission can modify the plan should it pass on Tuesday.
One of the most pressing concerns for opponents is the amount of toxaphene in the soil. Part of the so-called “Dirty Dozen,” the organic pesticide is associated with numerous diseases and birth defects in livestock and humans.
The Environmental Protection Agency canceled all uses and outlawed general use of the pesticide in 1990. Long-term human studies have not been conducted, but have been with animals resulting in developmental and nervous system toxicant and a possible carcinogen, according to the 9212 report.
The city document, however, states less than 6,000 cubic yards of soil contain toxaphene at levels exceeding state standards for the Visitor Serving Commerical (VSC) portion of the site.
While the 48-acre site has undergone testing, Gary Barberio, Carlsbad’s assistant city manager, said the remaining portion of the site must be surveyed if the project passes.
“They’ll need to do deal with that during or prior to construction,” said Barberio, who reviewed the reports. “They did a very good job of testing on the 48 acres … but they are going to be doing some development on the open space. There will need to be additional testing on those areas that will be disturbed. A lot of areas have been developed that were previously (agriculture).”
The plan also calls for expanding agricultural uses, most notably strawberry farming.
The 9212 report states revenue sources from the initiative’s visitor serving commercial uses “and/or” private funding would maintain the lands in perpetuity, although the requirements must be in place prior to the opening of the commercial uses.
Long-term viability on the site, however, depends on the individual growers, market trends and development pressures for other land uses the, “Initiative area would likely increase the economic viability of agriculture on site through agri-tourism and direct agricultural sales opportunities,” the report states.
In addition, Caruso Affiliated must have in place storm water treatment for runoff from rain. Currently, the site does not have such measures in place as pesticides, fertilizers and dirt, among other debris and chemicals, run freely into the lagoon.
“They will be subject to all the city standards, which are the state’s standards,” Barberio said. “There is a laundry list of water quality protection … standards for all developments. They will have to do yearly reporting … and there are 31 water quality protections built into the plan.”
As for air quality, the 9212 report finds the proposal meets all criteria except for the Regional Air Quality Strategy (RAQS). Construction and operation “would exceed significant thresholds” for certain pollutants, “a significant and unavoidable impact.”
The 585,000 square-feet exceeds the 2009 San Diego RAQS projection of 463,00 square-feet, but falls within the city’s General Plan and SANDAG’s (San Diego Association of Governments) regional plan.
The two-year construction plan estimates 3,574 metric tons of CO2E (carbon dioxide equivalent) and during operations would generate 33,116 metric tons of CO2E per year.
“With the higher square footage, it’s not consistent with that,” Barberio said of the RAQS. “They need to implement mitigation. It’s not unusual for larger developments to exceed the standard because of the fact that we are a nonattainment area, San Diego is, and the standard is pretty low because of that.”
Yet another issue is the views from the proposed center. Opponents argue concrete structures will damage those driving and living along the lagoon, while supporters say hills to the east of site will block most of the buildings from those hiking along the trails.
Regardless, the plan does not call to change Carlsbad’s height restriction of 35 feet and will rest in designated zones away from the bluffs.
“They are adhering to our standards,” Barberio said. “They are addressing screening of lighting from the shopping center to the open space.”