CARLSBAD — Momentum is building as the countdown to the special election for one of the city’s most controversial topic in years draws closer.
And the push is just beginning for the grassroots nonprofit Citizens for North County (CNC) to stop a luxury mall from breaking ground on 203 acres on the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
And in one month, the voters of Carlsbad will decide the fate of the proposal, which is the brainchild of Caruso Affiliated, a Los Angeles-based development firm.
As for CNC, the group has swelled to more than 200 individuals in a working capacity and continues to grow, said President DeAnn Weimer.
Despite being outspent $7 million to $80,000 in mid-January, Weimer said the volunteer outfit is busy with canvassing, cold calling residents and using pop-up tent events — three to four at a time — to spread the word against Measure A. The special election is Feb. 23.
“We are going out holding events in various precincts and things are going very well,” Weimer said. “We are holding funds so we can do our two big mailers.”
As spending increases, the visibility of the measure is expected to become more prominent on Saturday, the first day when signs on public property can be displayed.
Weimer said CNC’s campaign is also focused on displaying lawn signs as its way of combating broadcast advertising by Caruso.
“We do not have the resources to put ads on the Golden Globes,” she added. “Carlsbad voters know when someone goes to the airwaves … that they are really driving people to say there is no detail. They are our best advertiser.”
In fact, according to financial statements on the Carlsbad city’s website, through Jan. 9, Caruso Affiliated has spent $7,393,962.59 in support of the measure. Over the same yearlong period, CNC has spent $44,700.93, although the group has $69,079.07 in ending cash balance.
Still, the discrepancy is overwhelming, Weimer said.
“Every time they put an ad up there, they are driving more people to know about us,” she explained. “We have over 200 hand-made signs and we will also have some other signage go out. We are being very careful where to place the signs.”
With the rise in membership, plus individuals and businesses joining the cause, Weimer is confident about the election. However, one challenge has been engaging residents who are not up to date with current events.
Despite the near weekly media coverage and social media campaigns from both sides, Weimer said she crosses paths almost daily with residents who don’t know Measure A is 85/15.
Those people, she said, are a key for winning the election along with reaching their friends and family to oppose the measure.
Another outreach campaign will come in two waves in the form of mailers. Weimer said the information will be sent to residents regarding the issues and facts of the proposal.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t realize Measure A is the 85/15 plan,” she added. “We found that so many people thought that by getting the referendum, we defeated the measure. We’re so happy because they stop, they come by, they get educated and then can go off and spread the word in the community.”
On the endorsement front, both sides are gaining traction. Caruso Affiliated announced a number of Carlsbad Village business owners in support, along with the firefighters union. CNC, meanwhile, has secured support from Michael Holzmiller, former Carlsbad planning director, Ronald Bell, former city attorney, Victoria Scully, former chairwoman of the planning commission, Nick Ervin, San Diego Sierra Club Conservation Committee chairman and former Carlsbad Unified School District trustees and presidents Mark and Ann Tanner.
Entities supporting CNC’s “Vote No” bid include the Sierra Club, Carlsbad Watershed Network, Buena Vista Audubon and the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.