CARLSBAD — With just a 186-vote difference on whether Measure A passes or fails, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters released the first round of mail and provisional ballots Thursday.
The results favor the No on A campaign, which expanded its lead to 51.18 percent compared to 48.82 for the Yes on A supporters. In total, the No on A camp leads by 863 votes — 18,658 to 17,795 — which is up nearly 700 from Tuesday.
Measure A, otherwise known as the 85/15 plan, also drew one of the largest turnouts for a special election in Carlsbad history as about 63.8 percent, or 40,368 of 63,265 registered voters, cast a ballot. It is one of the largest turnouts in Carlsbad history and one of the largest in years anywhere in the county.
The measure called for 26 acres to be developed with a Nordstrom’s-anchored luxury mall with farm-to-table restaurants and an orchard among other amenities on the land. The remaining 177 acres would be dedicated to expanded strawberry farming and opening the open space to residents for hiking trails.
Caruso Affiliated, a Los Angeles-based real estate development firm, used a resident-led initiative to get the proposal before the City Council.
Opponents slammed those efforts for circumventing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
A successful referendum by the resident group Citizens for North County (CNC) led to placing the measure on the ballot.
The council voted in November to conduct a special election at an estimated cost between $450,000 to $550,000.
From there on, each campaign ramped up its presence in the city. Caruso Affiliated spent about $10.5 million over the past year including more than $5 million since November.
CNC, meanwhile, was a grassroots group of residents with virtually no money to counter Caruso Affiliated. In December, however, the Westfield Corporation, which sold its stake in the Carlsbad Mall just weeks before, donated $75,000 to the group to combat Caruso Affiliated’s efforts.