How Cardiff residents saved the town

As Cardiff-by-the-Sea turns 100 it’s worth remembering that the Cardiff that is, almost wasn’t.
Cardiff is the result of “small town zoning.” Commercial buildings in the six-block district can only cover 30 to 40 percent of the lot and have a two-story height limit. Setbacks keep the streets wide and views protected. The zoning prevents high density, mixed use development and preserves a small “beach town” identity.
From 1999 to 2010, Encinitas wrote a new zoning document called “The Cardiff Specific Plan.” During this time Cardiff came under pressure from developers who wanted City Council to give them new property rights to increase building size by 200 percent and mixed use zoning. Cardiff would have tripled in size. Residents wanted zoning that would protect the Cardiff they loved.
During the writing of the Cardiff Specific Plan, City Council told citizens they wanted public input, but to many residents it didn’t seem that way. City staff did the opposite of what residents said they wanted. Some claimed city council members who had election campaigns financed by developers worked against the citizens.
For instance, 131 residents attending a city conference led by the Rick Planning group in 2001 produced a report titled “A Vision for Cardiff,” that said, “The conference did not favor increasing height limits,” and “current limitations should be strictly enforced, as should limitations on total square footage, lot coverage and setbacks.”
But, after the city had paid them $100,000, the Steele Consulting group presented a draft of the Cardiff Specific Plan in 2007 that proposed rezoning Cardiff to the benefit of developers, allowing three-story buildings, 200 percent increases to density, mixed use, and zero setbacks that would create ocean view blocking street walls — the very things residents did not want.
When the Steele draft met with resident disapproval, the council appointed the Cardiff Citizens Specific Plan Area Review Committee (CSPARC) to rewrite the Steele Draft. The council paid Mr. Peder Norby to lead the meetings and three city planners took notes.
City staff prepared an analysis showing how the single story VG Donuts center would become a three-story mixed use building that would cover the lot with building and have underground parking. The owner of the Post Office promoted his site as suitable for a three-story Walgreens. Residents fought back with presentations on the negative impact of mixed use on community identity.
On Sept. 11, Sept. 18 and Oct. 2, 2007, the CSPARC committee held five votes on mixed use in the Cardiff Specific Plan and reached a consensus that mixed use would be limited to lots of 5,000 square feet and only on the east side of Newcastle Avenue. The votes were filmed by residents.
One year later, Sept. 17, 2008, Mr. Norby told the Encinitas Planning Commission that the Citizens Committee did not reach consensus on mixed use, ignoring the five committee votes he had led. High density mixed use was put back in the plan and the hard work of the volunteer committee was almost undone. Later, the city staff that took notes told the City Council that, “Staff would like to emphasize the committee did not reach consensus on mixed use in the plan area.” Many said the fix was in.
The Cardiff Specific Plan finally came before the council in 2010 for a vote. Some 20 speakers spoke. An Air Force Academy graduate told the council that the Constitution he swore to defend was a “Government of, for and by the people, not a government of, for and by the developers.”
One resident presented a film showing the five votes of the Citizens Committee.
The council voted to approve the Citizens Cardiff Specific Plan removing new mixed use zoning in Cardiff. The plan is now awaiting approval from the Coastal Commission.
This decision means, that for the time being, Cardiff will keep its unique community character.
Many fear that given developer funding of the election campaigns in Encinitas, it won’t be long before Cardiff again comes under attack.
Last Saturday, many people gathered at the Cardiff Post Office for a parade to celebrate its 100th birthday. Floats and revelers marched down Newcastle Avenue, a wide street with small buildings on small lots past wide open spaces with views to the sea. They passed Cardiff residents who lined the avenue. They don’t make small towns like this anymore. Let’s hope we get to keep this one.
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  1. To kool-aider says:

    "The initial concept was to provide a future where people did not need their car and could walk to goods and services from their homes."
    Propaganda-jedi-mind trick on the weak minded!!!
    How would the initial concept have made the walking distance or walking time between the homes of those evil drivers shorter?
    Stop it with the smart growth propaganda that fuels the fake war on cars and profits for real estate speculators.

  2. anonymous says:

    Try walking or riding a bike down Birmingham, along Manchester or San Elijo. How about the dysfunctional crossing at Chesterfield & 101?
    A war on cars is more like a war on being able to get around otherwise.
    If new buildings come into Cardiff they should contribute to making things better, not just continuing mistakes. Cars in the back, less driveways, more bike lanes, paths and less of 1950′s mentality.

  3. Brett Farrow says:

    The comparisons to Moonlight and Pacific Station are incorrect. And that’s been my problem with "Save Cardiff". There has been a manipulation of facts and fear mongering.

    It’s one thing to say that you want a building moratorium, but how you get that does not mean it is okay to use deceptive sound bytes, (the heavily edited film used by Audet), false claims, intimidation and tactics to create hysteria.

    Here is the link to the initial proposed plan;

    It was 2 stories and 30 ft height limit, 3 stories and 33′ in the C-CM-1 zone. And, I’ll say it again, it was a consensus that 3 stories not be allowed, but, it was not a consensus that mixed-use not be allowed.

  4. no mixed use says:

    Brett Farrow seems to have a burr under his saddle when he didn’t get his mixed use. The city planning department and their cohorts used heavy-handed manipulation to try and push mixed use and taller buildings on the community. Those are the facts. The community said NO.

  5. OCB says:

    City staff made a powerpoint of 3 story mixed use in Cardiff using Pacific station Audet didn’t make that up. The city wanted it.

    Mr. Norby is on video saying the committee consensus was mixed use. He says consensus on the video many times. He then told the Planning Commission and the City Council the Committee did not reach consensus. Audet didn’t make that up. Thank goodness for the video, it shows the truth.

    It is unfortunate that the committee was not represented accurately by Mr. Norby or city staff.

    Lastly, State Density Bonus laws give a developer 3 incentives for mixed use, that can not be regulated by the city. These are incetives to exceed height, square footage, FAR, setbacks, and more. THe only way to ensure a 2 story height limit was to limit mixed use which was why the citizens committee voted that way.

  6. factsmatter says:

    Norby and city staff manipulate the facts. I just watched the video at site Norby says the "votes will be recorded and passed along’ but he doesn’t do it. Staff wrote down what the votes were, but didn’t tell the council about the votes.

    The movie is about 8 minutes, it shows the votes and tells the story. I thought the end of the movie was shocking. IF this is how we are represented we all should be afraid.

    Also, city staff did prepare an anlysis of Pacific Station and 3 story buildings for Cardiff.

    I think maybe some commenting here might read the column again, it clearly says what the committee voted on.

  7. NoVictorKremer says:

    I did a Google image search on Brett Farrow and his projects in Little Italy and the transformation of the Victor Kremer home that was shown in a Reader article, to what it is now.

    What is he so proud of? I understand that he has optimized how much money he could pull out of this, and neighboring Cardiff properties and put into his pocket, but to have artistic pride in this is insulting. How credible does he think it is to take the role of artist, when his real ambition is to pocket money and he has left neighbors with the parking mess and other problems from his project?

    The classic craftsman details of the Kremer house have been lost in the Farrow complex. Surround it with a 15′ wall with a barbed wire top and you have Osama Bin Laden headquarters!

    Let’s have some authenticity here. I liked Cardiff better when the Victor Kremer house was the Victor Kremer house!

  8. Brett Farrow says:

    Okay, last one. I did not maximize the size of the houses neither in terms of FAR, coverage, etc. Nor did I pursue any variances. The site is zoned R-11. The usual plan would be a multi-unit condo, or twin homes with garage doors facing the street. I went with detached houses where people are first and the car is secondary. I also retained the original house which after a perfunctory historical review could have been relocated or demolished. The average lot size in my project is 4,627 square feet. In Cardiff, on the edge of a commercial district that’s pretty good.

    I bet I wouldn’t like the last commentators house either. What the address?

    I think this kind of nasty remark, made anonymously, doesn’t elevate the conversation.

    I’m proud of my work, I stand behind it and live in it. And I use my real name.

    It is this kind of hostility, misinformation and intimidation, that has controlled the debate. Which is why I’m speaking up about it.

  9. NoConflictofInterest says:

    Brett,this is not about my house or the houses of the ‘selfish’ Cardiff residents who don’t like what you offer. Among other issues, you are insulting them and appear to be using false pretenses in promoting your artistic sensibilities, when it is obvious that you are out to make the most money possible off of the ‘selfish’ citizens of Cardiff.

    Professionals don’t have to compliment themselves and insult others who might compare some of your Little Italy units to prison cells.

    Take a hint from the Surfing Madonna artist, who created an almost universally beloved work that people embraced immediately. He was motivated to express a message of "Save the Ocean," in a manner that touches many who see his work.

    Real artists don’t have to convince others that their work is good. Aesthic excellence is defined through the feedback from others who do not stand to make money, and I don’t see a single person here who doesn’t see that you are simply upset that you can’t increase your profits at the expense of Cardiff residents, as you had planned!

    To be fair, your work is not as ugly as the horrible output from the laundromat-like office of Bart Smith at DNZ. He also likes to tell people that his work is beautiful.

  10. factscount says:

    Farrow claims Norby told the truth when Norby did not tell the truth. I saw the video at . Farrow claimed ‘Peder was right’ when Norby is wrong.

    Mr. Farrow ignores the 131 citizens who went to the 2001 conference saying they wanted to keep current zoning, I geuss they don’t matter in Mr. Farrows so called ‘community’. He ignores the video and citizens who went to the meetings and spoke, I guess they don’t matter either.

    He does support Norby and city staff who lied. It is scary that city staff, consultants, Mr. Farrow and a few property owenrs were willing to support an untruth to make more money. Do we want to raise our kids to tell the truth and do the right thing, or to lie?

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