Visionary beachfront project enters first of many steps

CARLSBAD — Although it may take years to get there, a unanimous vote by the Carlsbad City Council in June has made a beachfront property project one step closer to becoming a reality. And it’s a future land exchange arrangement between Carlsbad and the California State Parks Department that’s making it happen.
“The Carlsbad City Council approved an agreement to work with the California State Parks Department on a visionary project that could bring expanded beachfront park areas, trails, bike access, recreational amenities, parking, beach-friendly shops and restaurants, and an expanded state campground to the stretch of coastline south of Cannon Road,” said Cynthia Haas, deputy city manager of Carlsbad.
Haas describes the involved land as underutilized vacant properties, which are owned by the city, and other pieces, by the state. This is the first step that needs to be ironed out.
“The problem with the current land ownership is that it is like a patchwork quilt, with small parcels owned by the city next to small parcels owned by the state,” she said. “Through a land exchange that consolidates each agency’s properties into larger, adjoining parcels, this important coastal property could be better utilized to benefit the public.”
The land exchange procedure could take several months to complete.
Haas wants people to know that no final decisions have been made yet regarding this future, long-term development.
“This project is in the very early stages and will be developed over many years with broad public input,” she said.
The proposed site, however, travels along Carlsbad Boulevard, from the southern end of Cannon Road, then directly to the south end of South Carlsbad State Beach. A state campground is currently in the general area.
The city and the state have identified, generally, which land would make sense to trade, Haas said, but until appraisals and environmental reviews are completed exact parcels have yet to be determined. All the properties remain on Carlsbad Boulevard. The new beachfront undertaking is roughly three miles long.
“Once the lands proposed for exchange are identified, it may take another 12 to 18 months to obtain all required approvals and transfer ownership,” she said. “Design work will proceed at the same time as the land transfer process.”
Another possible piece to this beachfront venture would be relocating a southern segment of Carlsbad Boulevard. The proposed move, Haas said, would be south of Palomar Airport Road, to the east.
“Moving the road would free up coastal land to the west and address congestion and washout issues on Carlsbad Boulevard that end up costing taxpayers millions to repair,” she said. “The city also proposes to straighten Palomar Airport Road where it meets Carlsbad Boulevard, creating more available land.”
It’s estimated that the Carlsbad Boulevard Project will be done in various stages, and depending on city finances, could take up to 10 to 15 years to complete.
A budget has not been proposed because it’s too premature for one at this point. Haas said the city has provided $3 million to get the project underway.
Despite the time it will take for completion, the city believes this project will ultimately enhance Carlsbad on many levels.
“This is a signature project that will connect the northern part of the Carlsbad coastline to the southern part with walking paths, new amenities and more coastal land for the public to enjoy,” she said. “Increasing access to the coastline and promoting a healthy outdoor lifestyle are important goals shared by the city of Carlsbad and the local community.”.

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