Carlsbad delays setting its long-term goals for now

Carlsbad delays setting its long-term goals for now
The Carlsbad City Council reviews its top goals for 2017 on Tuesday at its Faraday building, although they held off finalizing any priorities until after public workshop in several weeks. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — Another year, but not another set of goals — yet.

Large, costly long-term goals or projects, such as trenching the tracks in Carlsbad Village, a new City Hall and the Village and Barrio are mainstays on the City Council’s list, but others cropped up during the council’s annual goal-setting meeting Tuesday at the Faraday building.

However, the council opted to delay finalizing the goals until a later date, in order to host a Saturday public workshop for further input. They noted most residents could not attend a morning meeting, or even at night.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said the delay, which could be up to two months, but is expected to be sooner, stemming from a resident survey showing a concern about enough public engagement.

The council admitted it has the timeline backward, but because the results of the survey were released last week, there was no other option. In subsequent years, however, a public workshop will be held prior to the goal-setting meeting.

“One thing we will do in the future is try to engage you further,” Hall said. “We are not finalizing anything.”

Many notable items were discussed, along with their progress such as trenching, the coastline, traffic improvements along Carlsbad Boulevard at Tamarack Avenue and the Terramar neighborhood, plus the success of the inaugural Student Leadership Academy.

Jason Haber, assistant to the city manager, reported the feasibility study conducted with the San Diego Area of Governments (SANDAG) concerning the trenching is completed and will be presented to the council soon.

On Tuesday, though, Haber highlighted some aspects of the cost and feasibility of the massive project. First, he said it was feasible to trench, although the costs widely vary.

An at-grade (the current position of the tracks) would be much cheaper, although would result in less economic activity in the long-term.

It would cost about $62 million to perform the upgrade of double tracking at grade compared to between $215 million to $350 million for trenching.

The trenching numbers vary because there are two options. First, is a short track, meaning the rail lines would come back to at grade at Tamarack Avenue for the estimated $215 million. The second and more expensive is a long track, which would trench below Tamarack.

In addition, Haber noted since 1998, when Solana Beach trenched its tracks, the city has not had one death related to rail crossings.

“The next step is environmental review,” he added. “Ultimately, I think this will be a win-win for our community and rail operators.”

As for a new City Hall, many residents have railed against the proposal saying other concerns are more pressing.

Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio, though, said funds used from two specific accounts for upgrades and new city-owned facilities would be used and no money from the General Fund is allowed.

Curtis Jackson, the city’s real estate manager, said the city has about $30 million in an account for a new City Hall, with an estimated $20 million in additional funds expected to be raised through development fees.

The fees are directed to these accounts for future upgrades to facilities.

However, the council did not identify any sites, noting this project is several years away from fruition.

Hall said it is important to construct a new facility, but that it be flexible as a possible civic center, which could include city staff, council chambers and meeting spaces for public groups.

Debbie Fountain, housing and neighborhood services director, and Christine Marcella, development services director for economic development, touted the success of the Student Leadership Academy, noting 28 high school students graduated from the inaugural program last year.

The second session started in January and has 26 students participating. In addition, a third academy will be held in the spring.

Other education projects included the renovations of the Dove and Cole libraries and graduate level engineering programs instituted by area colleges and universities.

“Students wanted to start nonprofits and implement other projects,” Fountain said of the academy.

As for coastline improvements, Parks and Recreation Director Chris Hazeltine reported construction for the seven Ocean Street beach access points would begin in the fall.

He also said a positive relationship with the state, which owns much of the beaches, has been developed. Hazeltine said those efforts are resulting in progress toward the council and city’s goals of adding more restrooms, access and operations and management.

Barberio, meanwhile, said work is expected to begin in Terramar in the third quarter of 2018, while the Tamarack intersection at Carlsbad Boulevard could begin in July 2018.

However, he said time is of the essence, regarding Tamarack, as the city secured more than $1 million in grants and those funds may expire if the project is delayed.

In the Village and Barrio, Marcella noted the city will hire a Village Manager, a point person for developers and residents to relay and receive input of the iconic neighborhoods.

She said it also provides an outlet for the city attract new retail businesses and diversify those neighborhoods when it comes to small business.

“They will act as an ombudsman,” Marcell added. “They will seek to attract an array of businesses.”

Traffic and transportation was also addressed and city staff noted 16 of 32 intersections have been installed with automated measuring and monitoring measures. In short, it’s the city’s effort to integrate upgraded signals for shorter commute times.

Staff will also analyzed the feasibility for a trolley system, which will be presented to the council in March.

1 Comment
  1. Don 10 months ago

    How about this for a short-term goal…let’s elect a new mayor and replace all incumbent city council members whose terms are up in 2018! That sounds like a great plan, and one we can all get behind. It won’t cost the taxpayers’ a nickel. In fact, we’ll probably wind up saving quite a bit if it happens.

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