Group alleges misconduct in housing decision

CARLSBAD — Local environmentalist group Preserve Calavera has demanded the withdrawal of Carlsbad City Council’s decision approving the Quarry Creek housing development. 

The group is alleging that council members held an illegal closed session meeting about the project, therefore making their decision invalid.City Attorney Celia Brewer has denied that any closed session meetings on Quarry Creek took place. She said that the statement by Mayor Matt Hall that Preserve Calavera based its claims on was a fumbling of words during a late night meeting that lasted more than five hours.

On Monday, May 6, Preserve Calavera’s attorney Everett DeLano submitted a letter to the city claiming that City Council violated the Brown Act, which requires city governments to provide public notice in advance of closed session meetings and later publicly report any action taken during such meetings.

The group pointed to a statement that Hall made during discussions of Quarry Creek at a March 26 City Council meeting.

During the statement in question, Hall was raising the issue of whether or not City Council should continue the meeting, which at the time had extended past 11 p.m., or continue discussions to a subsequent meeting. He explained to other council members that before they made a final decision on the Quarry Creek proposal, “We’re going to have to give input on those items that we discussed in closed session so we can provide the final documents.”

Brewer said that Hall misspoke due to the late hour, and he was instead referring to items publically brought forth by the Planning Commission, which he had referenced seconds before.

“It was 11:30 at night,” she said.

Preserve Calavera has been the largest, most continuous opposition to the 656-housing unit Quarry Creek development during the city’s months-long review and deliberation. Dozens of members have spoken and made presentations against the project at public meetings and collectively submitted hundreds of pages of correspondence to the city, citing concerns about the project’s impact on the natural habitat and historical attributes of the development’s site.

“It is certainly public knowledge that Preserve Calavera does not support the Quarry Creek project as it was approved,” said DeLano.

Should the group be able to establish that a closed session meeting took place and actions were taken, the city would be required to retract the decision by City Council on April 2 that approved the Quarry Creek project, according to DeLano.

When asked whether the Brown Act claim was an attempt by Preserve Calavera to find legal means to delay or halt Quarry Creek, DeLano said, “I don’t think it’s (the allegation) a foil. (Brown Act violations are) definitely a part of Preserve Calavera’s concerns.”

But he said further, “Does it have Preserve Calavera’s attention because it’s Quarry Creek? Well, I’d have to say yes.” He also stated, “If it were another open government issue that didn’t involve Quarry Creek, would they be involved? I don’t know.”

Brewer said that the city will respond to Preserve Calavera’s letter within 30 days to establish that no violation occurred.

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