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Carlsbad considers additional developments for General Plan

CARLSBAD — When city staff presented information regarding the status and schedule of the Envision Carlsbad General Plan Update to City Council on Oct. 15, questions were raised about land use changes. 

Councilmember Farrah Douglas asked about new uses for the old Walmart property on College Boulevard and El Camino Real.

Aspen Properties consultant Bob Ladwig brought up a potential change to the plans for La Costa Town Square involving turning land that was originally approved for office buildings into high density housing instead.

Both of these alterations and other possible land use changes were not included in the General Plan update that city staff is putting the finishing touches on.

The General Plan outlines Carlsbad’s vision for the long-term physical growth and economic development of the city over a 20-year-span. The document includes planned land uses, growth management, habitat management, economic development, sustainability, community vision core values, a climate action plan, city mobility, the housing element, and more.

City staff has been preparing for years for the 2014 update of the expansive document. Notably, city staff reached out to residents and community groups from 2008-2010 through “Envision Carlsbad” to develop the latest vision and values for the city’s future. In September 2012, the city used the information gathered from Envision Carlsbad to craft a preferred land use plan to ultimately guide the General Plan update.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, Council and staff realized that significant land use and development changes have come up since last year, like the Walmart property and La Costa Town Square, and have not been incorporated into the proposed update.

If a land use change is not included in the General Plan update, developers have to spend time and expense applying to the city to modify the General Plan before moving forward with their project, explained David de Cordova, a city principal planner.

“This is probably going to live past us on the council,” said Mayor Matt Hall, urging his fellow council members not to rush such a visionary policy document. “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this really right.”

Gary Barberio cautioned City Council against postponing the General Plan update any more than necessary so staff can still meet their deadline for the update.

“I would caution you strongly to do this once and to not do it again so we can finish this effort,” he said.

City Council directed staff to identify potential land use changes that have surfaced since the Preferred Plan was created last year for consideration for the upcoming General Plan update.

Staff will come before City Council at the Nov. 5 meeting to present its findings and City Council will determine which projects will be analyzed for consideration for the General Plan. City staff will then review the projects selected and come before City Council again for a final decision on which projects will be incorporated in the General Plan update.

The staff initially stated that the draft General Plan documents would be released in October and November for public review. However the City Council hearings will delay the release of these documents.