Neighbor cities settle dispute over development

ENCINITAS — To avoid further litigation, the city of Carlsbad agreed to pay $3.7 million toward traffic improvements in Encinitas. The mitigation measures are intended to offset the impact of a development at Ponto that includes hotels, time-share units and condominiums.
Ponto, the coastline area just north of the boundary between the two cities, was set for development last year.
In January, Encinitas sued Carlsbad to block the development based on the inadequate share of funding for road improvements where traffic will impact Encinitas. The city maintained in the suit that Carlsbad should pay a larger portion of the bill for additional traffic lights and to widen La Costa Avenue between North Coast Highway 101 and Vulcan Avenue.
While both parties agreed to the necessary improvements to calm increasing traffic in the area, they disagreed over the details of a fair-share agreement. In August, a Superior Court judge sided with Encinitas in a tentative ruling.
Ultimately, the two cities reached a settlement where each will be responsible for half of the $7.53 million costs of road improvements.
Encinitas City Council voted unanimously to approve the settlement agreement Nov. 12. Patrick Murphy, head of the Planning Department, told the council the city’s fair-share would come to $3.7 million but warned the price could change. “The total improvement costs could be increased should the cost of construction increase,” he said.
As part of the settlement, both parties agree to make improvements within 20 years, according to Murphy.
Charlie Marvin, president of the Leucadia MainStreet 101 Association, expressed concern that the streetscape design of North Coast Highway 101 would be impacted by the agreement. “We think that the two-lane roundabout at that intersection is critical,” he said, referring to the proposed traffic calming measure at Highway 101 and La Costa Avenue.
Murphy indicated that the terms of the settlement would not impact the approval of any new road improvements associated with the streetscape plan. However, the Ponto plan mitigation measures were adopted as an amendment to the North 101 Corridor specific plan.
Encinitas is the lead agency, but the settlement requires mutual consent of both parties on road improvement measures Murphy said.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth asked if approval of the settlement would bind Encinitas to follow the development plans, especially as it related to the flow of traffic. Murphy said the agreement allows modifications to the Ponto conceptual plan. “This merely codifies and incorporates the terms of the settlement,” Councilman James Bond responded.
The Carlsbad City Council approved the Ponto Beachfront Village Vision Plan in November, which encompasses 50 acres between Batiquitos Lagoon and the north end of Ponto Drive and from Carlsbad Boulevard to the train tracks.
The plan calls for three hotels with a total of 664 rooms and 126 time-share units. A mixed-use project with 128 condominiums, shops, restaurants and a pedestrian underpass to South Carlsbad State Beach is also planned.
No specific developer has been named in the project plans.