The Coast News Group

Carlsbad hit with pair of lawsuits

CARLSBAD — A Carlsbad nonprofit group has filed a pair of lawsuits against the city relating to the controversial Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan, otherwise known as the 85/15 plan, and the General Plan.

The suits are separate, but North County Advocates attorney Everett DeLano said they were filed last week in Vista Superior Court due to time restrictions.

NCA’s suit against the city calls for a temporary restraining orders or injunction preventing the city from implementing the 85/15 plan.

“This is challenging the initiative as basically being too broad,” DeLano said. “There’s a bunch of constitutional limitations on what an initiative can and can’t do. The initiative does is says essentially, this is the project we are going to do, an you city, you residents, don’t get to ever make any future decisions.”

DeLano said the initiative proposed by Caruso Affiliated and approved by the city earlier this year, is “illegally vague” and “beyond the power of the electorate to adopt.”

Another resident group — Citizens For North County — gathered more than 9,000 signatures opposing the project, which were submitted the city clerk’s officer and forwarded to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office for verification. The county verified 6,523 signatures on Tuesday.

The City Council must place the controversial 85/15 referendum on its next agenda to accept the county’s verification. The council can then either abandon the action or place it on a public ballot.

“There’s never going to be an opportunity for the city or the residents or anybody to ever have any discretion on what that will be,” DeLano said of the plans. “Potentially, the initiative is taking away forever the rights of the city … or residents. To take it that far is unconstitutional.”

Carlsbad Communications Manager Kristina Ray said the city does not comment about litigation.

As for Caruso Affiliated, spokeswoman Janette Littler of Callidus Consulting, said the firm had no further comment other than a statement provided to The Coast News.

It reads: “The referendum put forward by Citizens for (sic) North County was consistently portrayed to its supporters as an opportunity to ‘let people vote.’ However, it was never simply about voting, it was an effort by a small group of opponents to simply take away the benefits of the 85/15 Plan by killing it altogether. Then when the Escondido-based attorney for Citizens for North County filed a baseless legal action against the City of Carlsbad to have the 85/15 Plan thrown out altogether, without a vote. More than 20,000 people signed a petition in support of the 85/15 Plan, which the City Council (sic) approved unanimously. Now Citizens for North County and North County Advocates want to have courts decide how to run the City of Carlsbad instead of its city officials. We’re sure that the residents of Carlsbad will now see the actions of these groups and their intent for what they really are.”

As for the General Plan, DeLano said the action filed against the city’s Growth Management Plan approved by voters in the 1980s.

“They’ve tried to weasel their way around the Growth Management Plan,” he added.

In addition to objections over the General Plan, NCA President Pat Bleha and NCA Vice President Howard Krausz are claiming numerous negative impacts to the area and city should the plan go through.

Among those are promises of open space and being a low-density community, increased traffic, water supply and quality of life.

“I lived here in 1986 and know how hard the residents of Carlsbad fought to get the Growth Management Plan adopted,” Bleha said. “We were promised that we would always be a low density residential community with 40 percent open space and that public services and facilities would be in place where and when they were needed.”


Don Burton October 29, 2015 at 7:58 pm

Caruso’s paid signature gatherers collected 20,000 signatures by lying to people. And, of those 20,000 signatures, only about 12,000 were ever checked. Of the 12,000 checked, some 2500 were found to be invalid. Thus, he did reach the threshold number required, but he did NOT come anywhere near the number he keeps claiming. This is a lie and is just one example of the kind of lies associated with his entire operation. On the other hand, Citizens for North County used an all-volunteer group to collect over 9000 signatures in less than 30 days. Of those, only about 1500 were found invalid. So basically the numbers are pretty much even. And when one considers the fact that many of the people who signed Caruso’s original petition believed they were signing so that they would have a chance to vote (or to save open space or to save the strawberry fields) then Caruso’s claim to an overwhelming majority in support just becomes laughable. His paid liars might have fooled some people initially, but no one is being fooled anymore. The only one Caruso is still deceiving is himself if he thinks this plan is ever going to pass a fair and honest vote here in Carlsbad.

Don Burton October 29, 2015 at 10:51 am

It’s worth pointing out (though not necessarily within the article itself) that Janette Littler also runs Mayor Matt Hall’s election campaigns and has done so for years. She also helped Councilmember Schumacher with his election campaign as well. These are facts easily verified by perusing financial disclosure documents accessible through the City of Carlsbad’s own website. Make of these facts what you will.

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