CARLSBAD — From blighted area to a thriving village, the city of Carlsbad recently celebrated the success of its redevelopment efforts with the community.
Carlsbad residents, business owners and City Council members gathered at the Carlsbad Village Theatre on Oct. 28 to watch a documentary chronicling the city’s transformation. Titled “A Renaissance by the Sea,” the video introduced the history of Carlsbad through photos and commentary, closely followed by praise for the redevelopment efforts.
“Part of the success of the redevelopment of Carlsbad is how we’ve worked together over the years,” Councilman Matt Hall said.
The documentary explained that the city of Carlsbad could not have become what it is today without the help of a redevelopment team that was formed in 1976. Back then, there was a general sense of apathy and fear among Carlsbad’s residents, said Debbie Fountain, the current director of Housing and Development in Carlsbad.
According to the video, the redevelopment efforts began with the implementation of a 25-year Carlsbad Redevelopment Plan. With support from the community, they implemented sidewalks, landscaping and a fountain as a tribute to the history of the city, which dates back to the late 1880s. Businesses and restaurants began to fill up the buildings along the village streets, encouraging local residents to come out and support their community.
“We were going to preserve Carlsbad, not tear it down like other cities,” Hall said.
Through continued collaboration, the redevelopment team has fostered a relationship with the community allowing them to tackle big projects together. Through pictures and commentary, the video explained how the blighted area has become a quaint village and now serves as a backdrop for some of Carlsbad’s popular events, like the annual Street Faire and the monthly Thursdays on the Coast art event.
“The accomplishment that I feel the best about is the renewal of spirit and passion for the village,” Fountain said.
Now serving as a “24-hour community,” where people can live, work and play all in one place, the Carlsbad Village is easily accessible and a top destination for locals and tourists, according to the video. The village’s small-town vibe and friendly shop owners have even attracted some of the city’s main players to make Carlsbad a permanent residence — just ask Councilman Keith Blackburn.
“If it wasn’t for the village, I’d still be living in Escondido,” joked Blackburn, who first visited the area more than 20 years ago.
Thankful that Carlsbad is no longer considered a blighted area, the city must bid farewell to the redevelopment agency. Although the city has stopped meeting the requirements to keep the team on, City Council members and the redevelopment agency are encouraging its hardworking and involved residents to continue making a difference in their community.
“Has everything been done yet? No,” Fountain said. “We’re asking all of you to continue to pay attention and stay involved.”
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