CARLSBAD — It is a crowded field of candidates with various backgrounds and visions for the city.
On Nov. 6, Carlsbad residents will take to the polls and choose between District 1 candidates Linda Breen, Tracy Carmichael, Barbara Hamilton and Dave McGee.
Like candidates in every other race in the city, Breen and Carmichael are busy campaigning to secure those Election Day votes. The council, meanwhile, will have at least two new elected officials with the races in District 1 and 3.
Breen has been blazing her own path as she campaigns on an independent voice platform citing her commitment to all residents. She has railed against the political machine, stressing the council must have independent voices, rather than ones tied to special interests.
Carmichael, meanwhile, is using her experience as a former trustee for the Carlsbad Unified School District to show her leadership and decision-making qualities.
She said she values community dialogue and input from residents, but noted there will be tough decisions where not all residents agree. Still, Carmichael said due to division in the city, it is important for all parties reconnect.
“We have to gain back their trust,” she said of the residents. “We have to have the best interest of Carlsbad, bring it back and find out how to move forward.”
When it comes to more housing, Breen, like several other candidates, noted The Shoppes at Carlsbad is a sensible location.
However, one issue Breen says is important, and lacking discussing, is the Buena Vista Lagoon. City staff updated the council on Oct. 30.
Breen’s position, though, is the freshwater option is the better alternative, rather than the saltwater alternative, which was recommended by the San Diego Association of Governments earlier this year. Breen said focusing on the freshwater option would save $17 million to $19 million, while the saltwater proposal would create mudflats, harm endangered or protected wildlife and require dredging every year to clear the inlet from the ocean.
As for the location of a new City Hall, Breen said it makes sense to build at the current location on Pio Pico Drive. She said a multi-tiered parking structure could be placed across the street, next to Interstate 5, thus not impeding any views.
“We could have a good-sized parking structure and maybe a shuttle,” Breen said of the location for City Hall. “It would be better for city employees (to remain close to the Village).”
With housing, Carmichael said the city is in a unique position. There is an opportunity to engage the city by district communities to focus on the future needs of each neighborhood.
A collective dialogue, she said, will determine what each area will require in services, goods and revitalization. Carmichael said forward thinking and visionary plans to ensure quality of life for current and future residents is critical.
She also discussed the proposed Grand Avenue promenade in the recently passed Village and Barrio Master Plan. She said she likes the idea, although there may be some adjustments to ensure traffic and parking are adequately addressed.
Breen also supports the promenade, but has fewer concerns than Carmichael. She said it would be a great addition to the Village.
Hamilton said she is focused on an open and transparent City Council, while McGee touched on several issues other candidates have not focused as much, such as the San Onofre nuclear facility and short-term vacation rentals.
Hamilton, meanwhile, said the city must focus on diversifying its revenue sources. Sales tax and tourism, she added, are difficult to rely on, especially when the economy takes a downturn.
Housing solutions, she said, could be tackled by revisiting The Shoppes at Carlsbad, where the city owns the parking lot and Rouse Properties, owner of the mall, applied for a project but was denied for the time being.
Hamilton said a mixed-use development would be ideal, and be beneficial to those potential residents as they would have access to commercial and transit services.
McGee, who spent his career in residential lending, said the city must find new and innovative ways to live. Whether it is including tiny houses or other options, he said it is not affordable for even middle-class people to find or sustain buying a home.
One focus, he said, is to include military veterans in those discussions, while the council and staff can come up with creative solutions to level the playing field.
McGee said those two issues plus listening to residents regarding the Encina Power Plant property are all priorities. As for the decommissioned nuclear power plant, he said the City Council must be a voice in those discussions, noting the proximity of the spent fuel is just miles away from Carlsbad’s shoreline.
Another issue, he said, is the short-term vacation policy approved by the city this year. The council approved short-term vacation rentals in the Coastal Zone, but McGee said it would be prudent to revisit the issue to find a more fair solution, calling it “unjust.”
“We need to have a policy where people can do more with their primary residence,” he explained.
Hamilton, meanwhile, said addressing homelessness is a priority. Expanding partnerships with service providers in addition to the city’s approval of contracting providers, will only help combating the issue.
“We have an opportunity to work with and learn from other cities in our region and to expand our work with partners … who are already working with us and are a part of the network of organizations addressing interconnecting issues that this vulnerable population faces,” she said.