Carlsbad community fights trail development

CARLSBAD — What was once an open area and trail enjoyed by Carlsbad residents is now a piece of land slated for development.
The Carlsbad community has seen the amount of open space in its city dwindle, most recently with a developer’s acquisition of the Village H property. The community has fought to preserve the area located at Carlsbad Village Drive and Victoria Street for years and was surprised to find an iron rod fence locking them out in early November.
“It’s horrible that access is blocked off,” said Mona Kelly of Save Village H, a grassroots effort to preserve the property. “This area should be preserved.”
While City Council had ample opportunity to purchase the property for a fair price, “less than the price of a median home in Carlsbad,” said Kelly, they declined to take action on the offer. Instead, the Thompson Corporation of Nevada purchased the land earlier this year and has locked residents out citing liability issues, Kelly said.
“Why would they decline that purchase?” Kelly asked. “They’ve never intended to buy it.”
Save Village H members feel that City Council members put up a front when they expressed an interest in preserving open space. Although the council appointed an Open Space Committee to identify priorities for open space acquisition, a list on which Village H was ranked No. 2, they declined subsequent offers to purchase the land with their $35 million budget.
“I think (the mayor) is out of touch with the idea of open space and what that really means,” Kristina Eck, Save Village H member, said. “They seem to be easily influenced by large corporations.”
In response to the community’s concern, the city is currently negotiating with the developers to “allow access prior to the minor subdivision map,” Liz Ketabian, city park planner, said. “We aren’t making any progress and nothing’s been finalized.”
Ketabian noted that the agreement the city is working toward is to only regain access to the trail, and that the developers will still be able to submit proposals to build on the 60-acre property.
However, Save Village H members argue that the land is better suited for the wildlife and residents that were enjoying the property as it was. The area is a natural wildlife corridor that will be negatively affected by the fence and future development, Eck said.
“You’d have to do a lot to make it something (that) could be built on,” said Eck, referring to the structure of the hill. She noted that major work would need to be done to level it out and the work could possibly impact the homes adjacent to the property.
With no set deadline, residents and members of Save Village H will have to wait to hear the outcome of the city’s negotiations.
Until then, the group will keep fighting to regain access to a beloved part of their “culture, spirit and community,” Kelly said. “We’ve been very grateful to have fended off development for this long.”
For more information on the fight to Save Village H, visit www.savevillageh.com.

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  1. Agnes Allie says:

    This is one of the worst travesties of the city of Carlsbad. For years, this trail has been used by many members of our community, from infants in backpacks, to elderly folks. It is a very serene place. Carlsbad could have purchased it for a song, yet they let a developer buy it without a second thought. Obviously Carlsbad’s city council isn’t really interested in open space. Bud Lewis said the land could be developed while people could still use the trail — tell me, Mr. Lewis, what of the gate that is locked and blocking all access to the trail??

    There has already been a fire on the land due to the new owner carelessly allowing their workers to use a torch. These new owners have not abated the weeds, as they are supposed to, for fire prevention. At least when people and animals would walk on the trail, it would maintain it and keep the weeds under control. Now, with hardly anyone using it, it will be overgrown and a huge mess, which this new owner will most likely not clean up.

    When I purchased my home adjacent to this trail, I went to the city and asked them what would happen to the trail. They told me it was designated to forever be a nature trail for the city, and it would be in the custody of the city forever. So I guess the city lied to me. This new owner also doesn’t realize that we owners adjacent to the trail have an easement — the owner is assuming control of that easement — not so fast!

    The city, along with Ms. Ketabian, need to be sure the owner knows that this trail needs to be allowed to be accessed by citizens. They do not “own” this trail and they have no right to restrict access to it. By rolling over and allowing this to happen, the city is showing us they care only about developers and not about the people of Carlsbad. I hope everyone remembers that when it is time for elections. From Alga Norte being stalled (Stallga Norte) to this trail being gated off — these are major missteps which have occurred thanks to our current city council.

  2. Alana F. says:

    I have been taking my dogs to this trail since we moved into the neighborhood a year ago. My dogs and I have met many friends and neighbors here and we have enjoyed going there on a daily basis, until now. My husband and I went to a city council meeting last spring where many, many members of the community showed up and gave eloquent speeches as to why we should preserve this beautiful area as open space for the citizen of Carlsbad. It was indicated by mayor Bud Lewis during that meeting that they were going to purchase the property only to say today they don’t feel it’s a responsible use of taxpayer money since “94% of of the site is already set aside as open space.” In the meantime we are locked out of our beloved nature filled neighborhood meeting space and trail while the property owners decide what to build on it. The city council has not been forthcoming on this issue and we will continue to pressure them until we get the use of our open space back.

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