By Cori Schumacher
When politicians and decision-makers don’t listen to the community, we come up against the same problems time and time again: end results that do not reflect the will of the people, and wasted time and taxpayer resources to go back and fix mistakes rather than moving our neighborhoods forward. That’s what’s happened with the development of the Village and the Barrio in Carlsbad.
The decisions of the past are devastating the character of these neighborhoods. From the development at State and Oak in the Barrio (a development that was approved in 2015, prior to the community electing me to Council in 2016) to the new developments in the Village that were approved on 4-1 votes (I was the opposing vote), we are losing the character and the affordability of our downtown area. Firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other working families are being priced out of their hometown by the luxury condos that are dominating these projects. Our young people have no entry point into their hometown to start their own families and it’s more and more difficult for our seniors looking to downsize to find affordable options in Carlsbad.
The Village and Barrio can and will be developed. But how they are developed should be in-line with our community’s vision. The community should drive the conversation, and the development should be affordable to our community members.
In late 2019, Council voted to approve bringing amendments to the Village and Barrio Master Plan. This included my recommendation to form a temporary citizen’s committee to help us work on objective design standards that will ensure future development in our neighborhoods will be built in line with the character and vision our residents hold. These changes include plans to address traffic and parking issues, including traffic calming in the Barrio and a parking structure in the Village. I also pushed council to change old policies with loopholes that allow developers to pay minimal fees to avoid building the affordable housing we so desperately need. By creating a fair vetting process for our Planning Commission membership, we began the process of pulling power from developer-driven decision making, putting it back in the hands of our residents.
The Planning Commission should not be a rubber stamp for development and developers should not be driving how we grow. Now local residents, community advocates, and small business owners have a seat at the table for decisions that will impact our neighborhoods for generations to come.
The work is ongoing. We need to continue to protect our neighborhoods by developing a statewide Coastal Exclusion Zone with our state legislators that will effectively limit density along the coast and along coastal transit corridors vulnerable to sea-level rise and bluff collapses. This will impact all coastal areas in Carlsbad, and will not only protect our community character, but will help protect public safety and our oceans and lagoons from urban runoff as new developments are limited in the zone. My extensive experience with state housing legislation, the legislative process, and working relationships with our state legislators will be key to this work.
We must take a stand to protect our neighborhoods from bad state housing policy and developers who are only looking to make a profit while we lose our small, beach town character and any potential for affordable coastal living. We cannot allow the community’s voice to go unheard. I am running to protect Carlsbad. I won’t let Sacramento bulldoze our city or let billionaires buy our beach town.
Cori Schumacher is a Carlsbad councilwoman