CARLSBAD — One of the hottest topics in the city is the Village and Barrio Master Plan.
After revising a previous plan, city staff is urging input from residents through a survey for the Master Plan. A special meeting of the Planning Commission will be held at 6 p.m. July 13 at the Carlsbad Senior Center, 799 Pine Ave.
“We want to make sure community members not only feel they have had an opportunity to provide input, but that we have heard their ideas and concerns,” said Carlsbad Senior Planner Scott Donnell. “We also want to make sure our Planning Commissioners have ample time to review the latest draft and provide feedback.”
The plan establishes a vision for future development and land uses in the Village and Barrio and will replace the Carlsbad Village Master Plan and Design Manual, which was adopted in 1996 and has been revised periodically since, most recently in 2014.
The city released its first draft of the plan in November 2015 and was then revised based on input, and a second draft was released in April.
Some of the concerns about the draft plan have included not having data available from the city’s Village, Barrio and beach area parking study, currently underway, to ensure they are reflected in the plan; building heights and land uses; confusion over “ideas” meant to “inspire” and what can realistically be accomplished, either due to city laws, economic factors or property ownership; the style and density of development depicted in the illustrations that are part of the plan; the consistency with the city’s Community Vision, particularly with the balance of the core values “neighborhood revitalization, community design and livability” with “small town feel, beach community character and connectedness,” and the writing style and tone of the plan are seen as off putting to some community members who feel it lacks a local feel.
“City staff are taking the lead on completing the plan,” said Donnell. “In the meantime, we plan to move forward with some immediate improvements that wouldn’t be affected by the plan. Improvements like pedestrian lighting, sidewalk upgrades and enhanced traffic safety are included in the city’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1.”
The Planning Commission will not take action on the plan during the July 13 meeting. Input on the revised draft will be considered as part of the preparation of the final master plan, which will be presented to the Planning Commission and then the City Council for adoption. The timing of these meetings will depend on the extent of input received and they will not occur until 2017.
Copies of the draft plan are available at the city’s libraries, Faraday Center, Senior Center, City Clerk’s Office and online at carlsbadca.gov/villagebarrio. Those unable to attend the July 13 meeting are encouraged to review the draft plan at carlsbadca.gov/villagebarrio and provide comments directly to city staff.
The master plan focuses on enhancing neighborhood character, community gathering spaces and economic vitality, based on ideas gathered from the community starting in September 2014. Hundreds of community members participated in hands-on design sessions, an online forum, technical sessions and public meetings.
“The draft plan refines the ideas from the existing building standards in the area, rather than making significant changes,” said Donnell. “The building people are seeing now is not a result of this plan, but projects approved under existing land use rules.”
Among the concepts included in the plan are new access opportunities that could result from putting the coastal railroad tracks through the Village and Barrio underground in a trench. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is adding a second parallel track along the coast and has agreed to study the option of trenching the tracks below ground level, at the City of Carlsbad’s request.
Other ideas for the Village are making Grand Avenue more pedestrian-friendly by creating a promenade; create public plazas at Grand Avenue and State Street and other places; improve streets and sidewalks west of Carlsbad Boulevard, benefitting drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians; tunnel beneath Interstate 5 to connect Grand Avenue to the east side of the freeway.
Ideas for the Barrio include; along the streets, add crosswalks, trees and pedestrian-scaled lighting and improvements to “calm” automobile traffic; construct a roundabout at Tamarack Avenue and Jefferson Street to create a gateway to the Barrio and beach; ensure new development is in keeping with the current character of the area.
According to Donnell, the city decided to combine the Village and Barrio under one master plan to enhance connectivity between the two areas.
The plan also focuses on alternatives to traveling by car, such as walking and biking. The city already has emphasized making the Village and Barrio more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly by placing more than 100 bike racks and corrals in both neighborhoods and by making it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross Carlsbad Boulevard and Grand Avenue.
The plan also includes ways to increase parking in the Village and Barrio and ideas for emerging transportation choices, such as a shuttle system and ride sharing. The parking study of the Village, Barrio and beach area now underway will help further inform future parking strategies in the master plan’s area. The city will also be seeking community input on ideas to improve parking in connection to the study.
The community may review the draft plan and provide comments by emailing email@example.com.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.