The Coast News Group
Currently, the city is presenting four city-owned sites as potential locations for a new city hall, but the council is also considering sites residents have pitched that are not owned by the city. Photo by Shana Thompson

Staff analysis, community workshops explore options for new city hall


CARLSBAD — By October or November, the City Council will receive an update on the scope for plans for a new city hall.

Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio reported to the council on July 24 that staff is currently making headway in its community engagement efforts and work with a contractor for scoping and space analysis.

In 2016, the council established a goal for a new city hall and to break ground by 2023. On Jan. 23, the council approved a $278,105 agreement with MIG, Inc., to provide scoping and planning analysis for a new city hall.

In addition, the city hosted two community workshops in June to ask residents what they wanted in a new city hall and civic center. Most of the discussion during the workshops, though, centered on site locations and amenities for a civic center.

“We are getting a great quantity of response,” Barberio said of the workshops and online survey. “That will feed into the team and will use the needs assessment information … and what we’re getting from the community about what a civic center might include. We will use both of those pieces of information to develop for very, very conceptual, for discussion purposes, concept plans on all four sites.”

The scoping and space analysis will determine the size of facilities needed to house about 300 employees plus the civic center.

It is possible, Barberio said, the decision may be put to a public vote if two or more sites stand out above the rest. If it does go to the ballot, it would not be in 2018, he said, as staff will continue gathering data and putting together a detailed report in the fall.

“We initiated a broad community engagement process and what they would like to see in a new civic center,” Barberio said. “We will come back in October or November detailing the scope and space, along with results from two community workshops and the online survey.”

The online survey will close on Aug. 2.

Next, city staff will create conceptual plans for each of the four sites in spring 2019 and present those findings to the council. With the information, the council will then decide whether to put it up to voters.

Currently, the city is presenting four city-owned sites including the current location at Pio Pico and Carlsbad Village drives, the Farmer’s building at El Camino Real and Faraday Avenue, the site next to Faraday Center and at Pine Avenue Community Park.

During the July 24 meeting, Mayor Matt Hall asked Barberio about alternative sites, as some residents have pitched ideas for locations not owned by the city. Barberio said those will be considered, but present more challenges such as finding a willing seller and buying the property, which would change the budget.

Currently, the new city hall is estimated to be 120,000 square feet and cost between $72 million and $114 million, for which development fees over the past 20-plus years have been set aside. Funding for the civic center, meanwhile, would come from other sources.

However, more detailed plans will come into focus once the scoping analysis is completed.

As for the city sites, Barberio said it is possible they may be feasible or, conversely, residents might decide neither of the four locations is worthy. From his discussions with residents, only a small percentage have lobbied or suggested for a non-city-owned site.

Hall said other opportunities, such as more parking availability for the public, is also a matter to consider.

“A new city hall has joint use and it’s not just about city hall,” Hall said. “I look at it from a parking perspective. When city hall isn’t functioning on an 8-5 basis, is there another way you can use those (parking spaces)?”

To take the survey, visit