CARLSBAD — All is well with the city.
Mayor Matt Hall and the rest of the City Council detailed the efforts by the city in the annual State of the City on Monday at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium at the Dove Library.
Hall, along with councilmembers Lorraine Wood, Mark Packard, Keith Blackburn and Michael Schumacher detailed the current status of Carlsbad along with future goals and projects.
In addition, Hall emphasized Carlsbad’s standing within the county, noting its efforts with the San Diego Area of Governments (SANDAG).
“We are the only city where all five (council) members serve SANDAG,” he noted.
The representatives spoke for several minutes about their top concerns and areas of focus.
For Hall, it centered on water sustainability and how Carlsbad is the statewide leader when it comes to a diverse portfolio and ability to serve its residents.
For example, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant came online and accounts for 10 percent of San Diego County’s water supply, with a portion serving the city. Hall also touted the city’s aggressive approach to recycled water, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of its portfolio.
“In the early 1990s, we led the charge for reliability,” he said. “We have spent $3.2 billion in water insurance (and investment).”
Hall also highlighted the city’s growth management plan (GMP), which was created about 30 years ago. Discussing development, with a nod to the controversial Measure A, Hall said since the institution of the GMP the city’s population expectations have decreased from 250,000 to 135,000.
In addition, the city also paid off bonds for its golf course, The Crossings at Carlsbad.
Wood, meanwhile, spoke about her position within the county as president of the San Diego Chapter of the California League of Cities. Her standing, she said, and work with Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and State Sen. Pat Bates has allowed for the city to prosper.
Wood also discussed efforts within education and creating partnerships with the Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD) and MiraCosta College.
She praised the development of a leadership academy between the city and CUSD to develop skills for students as they progress in life.
“The leadership academy is for any teen … and it starts this fall,” Wood added.
Packard, however, said one of his priorities is to trench the train tracks in Carlsbad Village. He noted the safety aspects, citing Solana Beach as an example of better protection for residents along with quicker access for police and fire services to get through those crossings. In addition, trenching would reduce noise pollution.
Packard said the city is working diligently to trench the tracks, but noted it is an expensive measure. Previous estimates range from at least $100 million, but Packard said the city is searching for outside funds to match those put up by the city.
“It will make life better in many ways,” he explained.
Packard also spoke about development, and how Carlsbad leads the way to make sure developers pay their own way as to avoid placing the burden on residents.
Blackburn, meanwhile, spoke about public safety and traffic issues throughout the city. He also said he is taking the fight to ban puppy mills to the state level.
As for traffic, Blackburn noted the frustration with construction along El Camino Real, but said work should be completed by Jan. 1, giving commuters three lanes in each direction.
He said the city’s focus of installing smart traffic lights, which “speak” to one another, will also save time with a goal of up to 30 percent. For example, he said instead of sitting at a red light for minutes with no other vehicles in sight, the signals would communicate to change so a driver doesn’t have to wait as long.
“We will have less waiting at red lights,” he said. “Once this is complete, we will have better traffic circulation.”
Schumacher, meanwhile, presented a more philosophical look at the state of the city. He said, despite differences between residents such as the controversial Measure A, all those who live here have used time to reflect and think about what makes Carlsbad great.
Of course, Hall and the others singled out city staff and their efforts. The mayor said the city is open “24/7,” unlike other entities that take off Friday or put in half days.
Hall said it is a source of pride for the council knowing residents have open access to their local government.