Photo courtesy Trevor Perkins / Flyby Photography
Community Commentary Opinion

What is Carlsbad’s path forward?

By Simon Angel

This is the primary question that all of us seek an answer to whether you are a life-long resident or a more recent transplant to Carlsbad.

The recent survey published by the City provides us with a general view of residents’ opinions. Of highest importance to residents was preserving natural open space. Next in importance was maintaining the city’s character as it grows. This was followed by managing growth. These 3 issues of greatest importance to Carlsbad residents should direct or at least guide the actions of the City Council moving forward, if it is to be responsive to its constituents. To ignore the opinions of residents on such matters is to invite discord and dissatisfaction. This has a tendency to polarize rather than attain consensus from opposing interests and views on these issues.

A case on point is the Village and Barrio Master Plan. This plan was an attempt to provide for land uses and building standards throughout the Village Districts and the Barrio Districts. In the last iteration of the Plan rolled out in January of 2018, after years in its preparation and various iterations it was not the best product. I spoke against this latest version. My opinion at the time was that standards for these 2 areas under one plan would be inappropriate. My reasoning was that the downtown village districts are commercial in nature whereas the Barrio districts and the village general district are residential in nature. For this reason, I proposed that there should be a bifurcation under the plan for the residential districts and the commercial districts. It is unwieldy to provide over-all standards for these distinct areas with different interests. In July of 2018 the City Council voted to approve the Village and Barrio Master Plan citing the time and effort that had been involved by staff and opinions by some of the public to just move it forward. I had argued that we should continue to work and alter this plan to achieve the best possible product with buy-in from the residents. I failed to convince the majority of the City Council. What has resulted is that the VBMP was submitted to the Coastal Commission for approval and certification. The Coastal Commission proposed 23 modifications before it would take the requested action. Additionally, the Coastal Commission pointed out that in its opinion the methodology used in its traffic study of certain street segments was flawed. Since then there are eight changes or amendments that have been proposed and are moving forward and more to come. Clearly, this was not the best product that we could have achieved. My point is that when we are deliberate and open to the ideas and comments from the public and residents, when we conduct public outreach before the design phase that incorporates these ideas and comments into the design phase we can end up with the buy-in and support of the public to achieve the best possible product.

If we hope to be successful on our path forward, we must make residents a part of the governmental processes that impact their daily lives. I believe that considering the opinions and ideas of residents regarding projects and developments at the earliest possible stage is an important element of our ability to succeed. The greater the public support and buy-in, the greater the chance of success.

Maintaining the character and charm that life-long residents already know and that newer residents have discovered will continue to draw residents and businesses alike to Carlsbad. How we manage this influx will determine our success or our failure.

Our open spaces are a big draw for tourists and new residents. Public parks add to the attraction of Carlsbad. Moving forward can we do more? Yes. We can take action to ensure that the Encina Power Plant, the strawberry fields and the Ponto areas be developed as public park areas for the benefit of all residents particularly since they are subject to Coastal Commission authority.

We must be open and deliberate in the governmental processes, without consideration to politics, personal or otherwise, because we are not representing ourselves but rather the residents. This requires us to have an appreciation for all the residents and the issues they face on a daily basis. It also requires us to address the matters of housing, transportation, homelessness, etc. While these issues go far beyond Carlsbad, it is important that we bear in mind that city representatives are just that, representatives of the residents of Carlsbad, not SANDAG, NCTD or the county or the state. Does this mean we do not cooperate with these entities? Not at all, we should do so at every opportunity however our elected representatives represent the residents of Carlsbad and that should guide our decisions.

After having experienced the political discord and turmoil of 2019 we must update the Municipal Code to avoid such situations in the future. Along with that, we should put forward a proposal and action to establish term limits for city representatives. Every person elected to public office enters into office with their own viewpoints, pre-dispositions and biases. Term limits provide a level of protection from these traits. Additionally, it provides for greater and diverse ideas and involvement by the public. I believe this is a benefit for all residents.

This is what I see as a reasonable and achievable path forward. Seeking a balance in all things between the revenue streams necessary to provide basic municipal services and maintaining and preserving the character and charm of this place we call home, Carlsbad.

Simon Angel

Candidate for Carlsbad City Council District 1

10 comments

Brian McInerny January 31, 2020 at 8:14 pm

I agree that listening to the primary concerns of citizens is of great importance to the cause of preserving Carlsbad’s character and charm. I also agree that limiting terms for elected officials will avoid the business as usual attitude that brought us to this point. As far as parks are concerned I would really like to see Carlsbad move forward on the projects already promised but not delivered. There is more to Carlsbad than tourism and the hotel business. We have a community of great people who care about where they live so it would be good if elected officials would take that to heart.

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NM February 1, 2020 at 8:07 am

Carlsbad is special because of its undeveloped-ness. Anything that changes that will fundamentally change what is special about this place.

With that in mind, I am genuinely shocked when I see that monstrosity of a hotel being built at Ponto. That beach will never be the same. Shame on those responsible for allowing that to happen. Stop ruining these unique undeveloped spaces. Nobody wants Carlsbad to turn into Huntington Beach.

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Lowell February 3, 2020 at 7:37 pm

I agree but you might not realize that the hotel being built is situated on land that is part of Encinitas. Let’s do all we can to stop any development on the Ponto Beach area, which IS in Carlsbad.

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Gary R February 1, 2020 at 9:46 am

Preserving Carlsbad’s character in The Village? I’m afraid that ship has already sailed. Replacing businesses like Mas Fina Cantina and Dini’s with high-rise condos or multi-use has already been approved. Bye-bye Village.

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Patricia Amador February 1, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Thanks, Simon, for your comments. You have seen far more development in Carlsbad than most of us. I appreciate your openness regarding input from citizens and listening to that input. Regarding term limits: i think most residents will agree with the idea however I believe that as Carlsbad is a Charter City, there is something in the charters against term limits. You have my vote and support.

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Hope Nelson February 1, 2020 at 5:08 pm

I love the concept of term limits; I fear that there are not enough of us willing to serve. Case in point, how many people commenting are applying for open Commisdion positions, myself included. There is a suggestion on the table by Cori Schumacher for an objective Design Review Committee for D-1. Anyone living in D-1 interested?

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Kevin February 3, 2020 at 11:54 pm

Most all would fail to see the linkage between term limits and other needed reforms (campaign finance as an example) and applications for open commission positions. As a major donor and social media surrogate of Cori Schumacher’s, Ms. Nelson seems determined to find something to say negative about a matter most objective observers would agree is long overdue.

Though some of us appreciate Ms. Schumacher’s belated election time embrace of a design review board, it does not currently exist. Though there are possibly some commission slots that draw comparatively less interest, educated observers will also recall there were many applicants for seats on the planning commission as one notable example.

If there is a reluctance of Carlsbadians to serve on commissions some of the reasons might be the highly partisan toxicity of special interest groups like Nelson’s anti-airport organization shooting at their heads. Does anybody recall the seem to recall the vicious backlash towards Councilwoman Hamilton and Councilwoman Bhat-Patel when they voted to settle the ill-advised lawsuit against the County over Palomar Airport?

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Casandra February 6, 2020 at 4:59 pm

I recall citizens wanting the City Council to meet with residents to discuss the airport. The Mayor & City Council voted it down. Councilmember Cori Schumacher was the main supporter and she ended up holding her own gathering to allow the citizens to voice their support or opposition of the airport expansion.

Another Councilmember who has continually listened to her constituents is Dr. Priya Bhat-Patel (of District 3). I constantly hear about her responding to emails on different subjects and one woman (who admitted that she had not voted for Dr. Patel received a phone call from her to discuss concerns she had written to her about.

The City of Carlsbad has 4 districts and those of us beyond District 1 appreciate the support we receive from the few on the City Council who know that we exist.

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Jim Strickland February 2, 2020 at 9:13 am

The Carlsbad Triple Crown! Preserving Ponto, Encina and Strawberry fields as public Open Space is one of the greatest ideas for our Carlsbad I have ever heard. It is a golden opportunity to preserve this precious Coastal land and Carlsbad character for future generations. http://www.peopleforponto.com/ http://www.savethecarlsbadstack.com/

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Patty Schreibman February 3, 2020 at 3:45 pm

I believe I have had the opportunity to have met you somewhere along the way and I recall your perspective as being non-partisan, with focus on service to Carlsbad as your primary motivation. I appreciate that very much and respect those that are open to consensus-building to bring the community and various interests together. My only caveat would be to be careful to assume that those survey responses and opinions being expressed by businesses and residents within Carlsbad, myself included, may or may not be reflecitve of the majority of Carlsbad. It is a difficult dilemna in that those that respond may be the most vocal, but sometimes may only represent a minority of the total community. The rest of the folks may be busy with getting the kids fed, homework done, and getting ready for work the next day. That’s why we also vote for those individuals who we believe represent our own ideas best and then look to them to act in the best interest of all of us — whether or not we are always able to show up at hearings or participate in surveys. That’s the beauty of elected vs. direct democracy!

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