COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

Does your vision of La Costa’s residential character include multi-story office buildings, regional department stores or the possibility of a Wal-Mart?
It could if the Carlsbad Planning Commission has their misguided vision approved by the City Council at the Aug. 11 meeting.
The Carlsbad City Planning Commission recently approved a massive development for La Costa including 284,000 square feet of shopping center, 55,000 square feet of multi-story office buildings, 64 single-family houses and increased zoning density for an additional 128 condos on 83 acres. Included in this proposal is a big box store which, until recently, was slated to be a Kohl’s department store. Kohl’s withdrew from the project leaving a large, empty big box space available to be filled by another regional retailer.
This project is located in and around the northeast corner of Rancho Santa Fe Road at La Costa Avenue. This regional shopping center promises to bring more traffic, noise, congestion and urban clutter to the middle of the La Costa, Southeast Carlsbad and nearby Olivenhain.
We hope the City Council will recall its 2005 policy decision. During this March 2005 policy
discussion, Mayor Bud Lewis stated he believes residents do not want the city to make it easier for big box retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Fry’s Electronics to locate in Carlsbad. According to other news articles, other council members said they would not approve a project “out of whack with residential areas.” We agree and hope the council remembers their 2005 decision.
Everyone agrees this project will negatively impact our quality of life and the results cannot be mitigated. According to the city’s environmental impact report, it “finds that the project will result in significant and unmitigated project-specific and/or cumulative impacts to transportation/circulation, air quality (and) noise.” If the impacts are unmitigatable, why would they grant a zoning increase from the existing “low-to-medium” to “residential high density?” Why approve a new big box store in the middle of a residential neighborhood? Why attract additional unnecessary regional traffic into our residential community by locating a big box store there? We understand the need for restaurants, grocery stores and local shopping, but disagree with the approval of a big box retailer, office buildings and increased residential zoning.
Think of all the traffic and noise during construction which could take years since they want to “Orange County” it, blasting off the ridges and filling in the rare coastal sage valleys.
Think of even more traffic when it is finished. The project will generate an increase of 25,516 average daily car trips. Many trips will be added to La Costa Avenue which, if widened any more, would be at residents’ doorsteps. Rancho Santa Fe Road is already a treacherous “highway” for pedestrians or cyclists to cross. Morning traffic jams for students traveling to and from the adjacent La Costa Canyon High School will be worse and frequent car accidents will increase.
The city’s solution: more traffic lights! Even if synchronized, additional traffic lights mean more waiting in long lines of congestion, smog and noise.
The developer’s solution to noise is more noise. They propose putting in a large fountain in the outdoor eating area to mask the traffic noise! Should all the nearby residents do the same? Unfortunately, they’re adding these fountains to mask the noise despite a Stage 2 Drought alert.
Why should residents have to contend with this? We don’t need more large stores. Look at all the already empty big boxes nearby: Home Depot Expo, Linens ‘n Things, Circuit City, to name a few. This is poor planning and it should go back to the drawing board.
We must demand the City Council protect our neighborhood: No big box, no regional shopping center, no upzoning.
We urge you to attend the Carlsbad City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive. (Carlsbad Village Drive exit east at I-5). Ask your neighbors to come, too, if they value a livable community.

Pat Bleha of Carlsbad and Bruce Ehlers of Olivenhain are both members of North County Advocates, a group of area citizens who organized to ensure good community planning in Carlsbad and Encinitas. They will be watching the decision of each Carlsbad City Council member and reminding voters of their decisions at election time.

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