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Barrio, Village Master plan, trenching tracks some of the issues council will tackle this year

CARLSBAD — There are many things on the City Council’s to do list for 2017.

Some issues remain, while new ones are cropping up and with a new face on the council dais.

Nevertheless, the city will whittle down its most important and pressing issues in the coming weeks. The City Council’s annual goal-setting meeting is tentatively set for Feb. 21 at City Hall.

Mayor Matt Hall said a number of the same issues remain, noting there are very few major issues coming up. However, those big projects the city has identified, Hall said, are in the process of starting or are already being addressed.

Locally, Hall said the completion of roadwork on El Camino Real from Cannon Road to Chestnut Street should be done within 30 days.

One of the biggest issues, though, remains the Village and Barrio Master Plan and the upcoming proposal, which Hall said should be completed in three to six months.

In addition, trenching of the tracks from the Village Station to Poinsettia is a long-term plan complicated by the failure of the countywide Measure A last November.

However, plans for Linear Park from the Encina Power Plant to Leucadia are in the works as is the much-needed widening of Interstate 5, although the mayor noted the project is more a regional accomplishment.

“I started on that project in December of 1994,” Hall said of Interstate 5. “To finally cut the ribbon on that and get I-5 widened so it can handle the needs and loads … that’s going to be a big plus.”

Newly elected Councilwoman Cori Schumacher said, at December’s swearing-in ceremony, her primary targets are on land-use issues and the Village and Barrio Master Plan.

She has also championed recruiting more clean and green energy companies to the city to reduce the demand of “dirty” energy supplies and to diversify the local economy.

As for major accomplishments, Hall and Councilman Keith Blackburn noted efforts with water. The issue continues to be one of Hall’s top concerns, although he highlighted the completion of Phase III at the city’s recycled water facility in October.

The project cost $37 million and increases the plant’s output from 4 million gallons per day to 7 million. It gives the city a total of 11 million gallons per day of treated wastewater, which is used for agriculture, industry and irrigating parks, golf courses and street medians.

Hall said during the summer months, recycled water accounts for more than 33 percent of water needs in the city.

In addition, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant was operational for a full year and produced a little more water than expected. The plant has received numerous awards over the past year and has given the city a “drought-proof” water supply.

“It has produced exactly what it said it would do and actually a little bit more,” Hall said. “We followed that up where we completed our Carlsbad water recycling Phase III. That was exciting.”

Blackburn, meanwhile, touted the city’s efforts with establishing a dog park at Poinsettia Park and banning the sales of pets from puppy mills, which he is now working on getting passed at the state level.

But for Blackburn, his biggest priority is traffic.

He noted the efforts of the traffic management center and laying all the fiber optic cable for adaptive traffic signals. He said once completed, the upgrades will reduce red light wait times by up to 30 percent.

“We’re getting closer to the end than the beginning now,” Blackburn explained. “Little things like that are finally coming together. Nothing happens quickly when it’s so complicated.”

In addition, Blackburn said another hot topic will be discussions on the Encina Power Plant and what the city can do with the land once the plant is torn down.

“I think we are getting past some of those legal hurdles,” he said. “It will be interesting to hear some of the ideas because imagination is the limit for that property.”

Hall, though, said he doesn’t expect too much to change this year as for adjusting the long-term goals, noting many of these issues will take at least several years to complete.

The coastline and trenching are two long-term projects for the city to accomplish, while the Village and Barrio Master Plan, hopefully, can be rectified this year.

“Not only sea level, but all the climate change,” Hall said of the coastline. “Not only what it looks like today, but tomorrow.”