CARLSBAD — The large-scale vision for the future of the city is moving forward.
The City Council approved Tuesday at their regular meeting a resolution encompassing strategies for its six goals developed by city staff since January. They also approved two sets of plans for developing and implementing the goals.
The goals include becoming a leader in multimodal transportation, a new city hall, education, enhance the coastline, trench the train tracks and build vitality in the Village and Barrio neighborhoods.
Mayor Matt Hall recused himself for the second vote as it related to the Barrio and Village, where he owns property.
Kathy Dodson, assistant city manager, said the goals are expected to take three to five years to develop and implement, while taking in community input and creating designs and budgets.
“My ask of council is to assess the strategies identified by staff as deliverable,” City Manager Kevin Crawford said. “I really want to make sure that the strategies that we’ve identified deliver on the goals you chose are right and accurate. In short, it becomes our report card for a year out as to whether we were able to accomplish what you want us to do.”
The coastline, however, is one of the most discussed and passionate projects among the council and residents.
Safety along Carlsbad Boulevard is a top priority especially at the Tamarack Avenue intersection and Terramar neighborhood south to the city’s border.
The strategy also includes expanding the city-state partnership for the management of the state-owned beaches. It includes a possible pilot project between the two entities.
Among the improvements at Tamarack Avenue is creating safer travel for cyclists and pedestrians, plus the intersection.
At Terramar, the goals also include safer travel for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, while developing easier access to the beach without altering much of the landscape.
The Tamarack and Terramar projects are moving along, as the city has already engaged residents for input and developed budgets of about $2 million and $6 million, respectively.
Beach access along Ocean Street is another point of emphasis and like the other two proposals, has begun moving forward. Recently, it was announced the city will not include totems and shade structures in future design plans after residents opposed those features.
“It really requires a vision plan and a lot of analysis,” Dodson said. “We want to design a public outreach plan in the coming year that will begin to create a vision of improving the access and enjoyment of the southern Carlsbad coast.”
Trenching the train tracks is perhaps the most challenging goal for the city. Regardless of trenched track, the city plans to at least include double tracks to ease congestion as modeling shows a significant increase in train traffic within the next 20 years.
Nevertheless, the city is taking an aggressive approach to mitigate the cost of trenching the tracks including hiring a grant writer to apply for state and federal grants to alleviate the cost.
Before a funding strategy, however, the city will conduct a preliminary technical analysis including environmental factors to determine the project’s feasibility.
Safety of trenching was a concern for Mayor Pro Tem Lorraine Wood. Glen Van Peskie, community and economic development director, said the city used a comparison between Carlsbad and Solana Beach.
Once Solana Beach trenched its tracks, “incidents” dropped to zero, while Carlsbad’s has grown.
“The preliminary analysis is helping us getting an understanding of the cost differential between the at-grade (ground level) solution and the trench solution,” said Jason Haber, assistant to the city manager. “The economic analysis provides the other side of that story to acknowledge, possibly, the benefit of taking on that cost. Once we have an understanding of that relationship, I think we’ll have a better understanding of where we are aligned in term of what the best solution forward is.”
Another hot topic is the Village and Barrio Master Plan and proposed improvements for the two iconic neighborhoods.
Improving public space, optimizing public properties and enhancing the areas for residents, businesses and visitors are the points of emphasis.
“Regarding improving the public space, we want to improve the roadways in the Village and Barrio for use by all,” Dodson said. “We also want to address current and future parking needs.”
The city’s transportation strategies feature improving traffic signal effectiveness, mobility, improve connections to transit and transit alternatives, creating partners to improve transit alternatives and decrease vehicle miles traveled through other means.
Part of the city’s goals is to create several hubs where trains, ridesharing, carsharing, cyclists and other means are consolidated.
“We want to collaborate with regional partners to improve transportation in Carlsbad,” Dodson said. “What we are specifically looking at is installing fiber optic capabilities in our traffic system and improving those. We want to upgrade the traffic signal technology in preparation for autonomous and connected vehicles.”
A new city hall has been discussed for years as the current facility, which was built in the 1950s, cannot support consolidating departments under one roof, technological advances and improved workplace efficiency.
First, though, Dodson said the staff must determine the future needs of the building including square footage, community meeting space and potential upgrades to the facility.
Second, the city will engage in a funding analysis to determine the cost followed by an evaluation of locations.
“A critical part of this analysis that may or may be not have been done historically is envisioning what government looks like not just 10 years out, but 20, 30, 40 years out,” Crawford said. “This is absolutely a long-range vision.”
As for their education goal, the city plans to develop and support partnerships for career and workforce talent development in the city and along the State Route 78 corridor.
In addition, the city aims to develop “high potential emerging leaders” through self-discovery and equipping high school students with the resources to contribute to the community.
“We want to make sure we are at the forefront of this,” Dodson said.
“We are getting closer on this, in the question of working with a college,” Hall added. “We will be able to announce that in the not too distant future.”