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.