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Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall celebrates lighting the city’s holiday tree on Sunday with Santa. Courtesy photo
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Carlsbad kicks off holiday season with tree lighting

CARLSBAD — On Sunday, Mayor Matt Hall officially kicked off the holiday season with the annual lighting of the tree.

Rick Caruso of Caruso Affiliated, the Rotary of Carlsbad, Village businesses and the city sponsored the annual Rotary Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony.

The event began with Santa’s arrival by fire engine.

Caruso Affiliated, which is the primary sponsor of the controversial Agua Hedionda Lagoon South Shore Specific Plan, or 85/15, also announced last week it would open an information center at the strawberry fields north of Cannon Road.

The project calls for development for about 27 acres of commercial retail, while about 176 acres would be designated open space and accessible by the public.

A successful referendum led to the City Council approving a special election for Feb. 23 to place Measure A on the ballot at a cost between $450,000 to $550,000.

“We are grateful for the way the Carlsbad community has embraced the 85/15 Plan and we are continuing our community outreach by sharing all the information we can about the 85/15 Plan’s many benefits and what it will mean for Carlsbad,” according to a statement from Caruso Affiliated. “To make the information as accessible as we can for Carlsbad residents, we are opening an information center at the strawberry fields so people can stop by, and hear from us and their friends and neighbors about what the 85/15 Plan means to them. Residents can ask questions, see the property up close, join community meetings, and get all the information they need about the plan.

“We’ll be opening soon and we will keep everyone informed about our opening date.  Please look for our opening soon.”

In addition, the council signed the ballot argument in support of the measure, while former city employees Rob Ball (city attorney) and Michael Holzmiller (planning director) among others signed the argument against the plan.

The council’s argument, which can be found on the city’s website, states traffic will improve due to builder-funded improvements to roads and traffic signals. Other benefits include more open space, trails, sustainable strawberry farming and preservation and enhancement of the lagoon.

The revenue generated from retail sales will provide $16.5 million for open space restorations, $2.6 million for police, fire, parks, libraries and other city services and a donation of 155 acres of open space to a conservancy to ensure its accessibility to the public.

In arguing against the measure, Ball and Holzmiller say the project will add more than 24,100 new “car trips daily on Interstate 5,” and Caltrans will not widen the freeway for at least 19 years.

They also railed against the cost of the special election, a lack of transparency in design plans from Caruso Affiliated and that the project jeopardizes the lagoon’s health.


Argument in support of Measure A

Argument against Measure A


Don Burton December 8, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Oh and that “information” center ought to have a placard above it…the Rick Caruso Misinformation and Propaganda Center.

Don Burton December 8, 2015 at 7:57 pm

What in the world does Caruso have to do with Christmas? Is he playing Santa Claus or the Grinch here? If he gets to build his megamall, won’t he then have an even bigger and gaudier tree with even more ornaments (think Charlie Brown special here folks). This has gone way too far. Can’t Hall even use a teensy bit of common sense and leave the politics out of Christmas??? How many years have we had this ceremony without Caruso’s help? Just another reminder of why we need to VOTE NO ON A and then RECALL HALL!!!

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