- What is your position on the Village/Barrio plan?
The most important thing to keep in mind when envisioning the future of the Village and Barrio is to make sure that the character of our community is put at the highest priority and preserved through the updates. The plan as it stands now I believe take that into consideration, but can always be improved upon. The community input for the plan has been absolutely key in creating something that is closer to the goals set by the constituents. The delays may seem like a nuisance, but they were important in order to make sure that decisions were not rushed. The plan looks to improve pedestrian walkways and connections through sidewalk and path renovations and expansions, and also calls to improve infrastructure and safety concerns for bicyclists. These are two important points that encourage healthy living and a society that is active, more commuter friendly, and enjoying the sense of community that downtown Carlsbad provides. I also support the parts of the plan looking to improve parking arrangements. These are issues that will affect both traffic and safety for people in cars or using alternative transportation. I also support how the plan keeps in mind Carlsbad’s unique historical buildings and culture and seeks to preserve them. One thing that I believe requires a greater deal of discussion is how the community feels about height limits — whether we want to build up or out. Increasing the height limits of our buildings is a legitimate argument for utilizing our space more appropriately and ensuring that we are not taking away from open space somewhere else. However, this may compromise the character of downtown Carlsbad by making it too dense and feeling less like a beach town and more like a claustrophobic city. This is an important conversation to have and I think needs to be addressed further before the plan moves forward.
- If the county Measure A fails, what path would you take for the city to trench the tracks in the Village?
The trenching of the tracks, as it stands now, would require the passage of Measure A. The infrastructure improvements rely on a sales tax increase from 8 to 8.5 percent and would fund these developments. It is difficult to speculate how the tracks may be trenched without digging into the overall city budget, of which I am sure would lead to controversy as well. I believe this is an important issue and has potential to benefit Carlsbad, but how it will be funded is a legitimate concern for taxpayers. One possibility, assuming the failure of Measure A, would be to seek out government grants or private donors with an interest in these infrastructure improvements. Raising taxes are generally a tough sell, understandably. It seems like it would be an even tougher sell to find the money elsewhere, other than from the people who live in the community. At the end of the day, it is up to the citizens of Carlsbad to determine whether or not the trenching of the tracks and other infrastructure developments in Measure A will lead to a substantial enough quality of life improvement to justify a sales tax increase.
- What is your stance on open space and how to reach the 40 percent goal set by the General Plan?
Carlsbad represents an area of habitat and biodiversity which should be fully taken advantage of in order to encourage recreation and scientific exploration. Our open space must not only be preserved, but explored and admired by members of the community and those who come to visit. Ecotourism is not a small industry in this city, and many folks come for our pristine beach and coastal habitats. Trails should be maintained and expanded upon so that our youth have an opportunity to have hands on scientific learning experience in their own city, and learn the importance of conservation, sustainability, and the sciences. After school programs in these areas should be expanded upon to take full advantage of our unique open space. In 2002, voters passed Proposition C, which authorized the City Council to utilize over $1 million for purposes of purchasing open space in Carlsbad. Since then the city has acquired over 1,400 acres of open space. Even with this land acquisition, we still fall short of our 40 percent goal. And if Measure A was any indication, it is that the citizens of Carlsbad want to see the integrity of our open space preserved. Taking all this into consideration, I would support spending the available funds to acquire open space and encourage the development that already exists in Carlsbad to be re-purposed and renovated when we are looking to expand businesses or housing.
- How can the city become more involved, and what is your plan, concerning land use decisions at the power plant?
The voice of the citizens of Carlsbad should be heard on all of these issues as much as possible. This is the case especially with a property such as the power plant. Investing in this property in a smart and effective way can have long lasting consequences for the city. Personally, I would like to see this property utilized for a sustainable and affordable housing development. The housing crises in San Diego is a complicated one, but in a city like Carlsbad I think it is important to not further compromise our open space by developing more housing, and instead taking advantage of existing space where it can be re-purposed. I think the power plant provides a perfect opportunity to experiment with that. However, if there is an overwhelming consensus from the people of Carlsbad of another way to utilize this space, I am certainly open to discussion and I believe the decision should not be rushed in the interest of making the right decision for our community.
- How would/or are you proceeding to work with the state to address the lack of lifeguards on the northern stretch of Carlsbad State Beach?
Public safety would be a top priority for me as a City Council Member in Carlsbad. I would always support legislation that ensures public safety services are adequately funded and have all necessary tools to complete their jobs. We live in an amazing city; our government services should reflect that. I think it is important to study the budget to determine which programs need to be cut, modified, or increased in terms of funding to ensure that basic public safety needs — such as lifeguards on our beaches — are met. Addressing small town issues like traffic lights that are out-of-sync, require coding updates, or can be upgraded with energy efficient technology are essential as well. Sustainable updates such as this have saved taxpayers in Carlsbad hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past, and those are savings that can be used in order to make up for immediate safety concerns in other areas – again such as lifeguards. The majority of our ecotourism in Carlsbad culminates at our beaches, and it is imperative that these visitors and our own residents are protected, especially because the ocean can provide constant dangers in the form of high tides, large waves, and strong rip currents. One of the issues are that some beaches are privately owned, raising questions about who is responsible for protecting them. These beaches still have public access walkways maintained by the city, however, and therefore require adequate protection. Funds must be allocated to these services without further delay.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.