The Coast News Group
Carlsbad housing
The city is looking at upzoning several properties, including near Poinsettia and Carlsbad Village train stations, to help meet its state mandated affordable housing requirements. Courtesy photo
Carlsbad Carlsbad Featured Cities News

Carlsbad selects 18 parcels to study for potential rezoning

CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad City Council on Feb. 15 identified several properties to further study for potential rezoning in an effort to meet the city’s state-mandated affordable housing requirements.

The city will first study 18 potential sites in an environmental impact report, with the exception of the “Kelly” parcel on Site 4, and include two maps in its analysis to help the council and residents to determine the best sites to help meet the city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA, obligations.

According to Sarah Lemons, the city’s senior program manager, the first map includes all 18 potential sites, except for the “Kelly” parcel of Site 4 and “the second map removes three additional sites and includes an increased density and number of housing units that could be considered on the properties at the Carlsbad Village and Poinsettia Coaster stations (Sites 14 and 17).”

After the EIR is completed in 2023, the council will make a decision on which sites to rezone.

The city’s actions are aimed specifically at increasing the number of affordable housing units. The higher a project’s density, the greater number of affordable units are required under the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program — a residential development with six or more units must have 15% affordability.

Once the City Council approves a draft environmental impact report sometime next year, nearly 3,000 more units could become available to help meet the city’s affordable housing numbers. According to Scott Donnell, a senior planner, the city must identify sites to accommodate a total of 3,873 units under its RHNA allocation, although the city has already identified roughly 1,200 units.

“All of the quadrants and all of Carlsbad are somewhat going to have to handle the state,” Councilman Peder Norby said, referring to state laws intensifying density. “Nobody wants it, and this is coming from the state.”

Density in Carlsbad at 26.5 units per acre qualifies as affordable and the city’s RHNA allocation from the rezone program is at least 2,578 units.

The council opted to eliminate several parcels from the analysis, including the southwest corner of Chestnut Avenue and El Camino Real, the Cottage Row apartment complex on Aviara Parkway south of Palomar Airport Road and the “Oak Yard,” a city-owned facility on Oak Avenue east of the train tracks.

One parcel owner, north of the Walmart property on the northeast corner of El Camino Real and College Boulevard, known as the “Kelly” property, opted not to participate with the city’s update to its land use in the Housing Element. The result, Donnell said, is a loss of 134 units, which must be reallocated to other parcels.

One of the most dispute parcels in the city, the Ponto property, was not discussed as it was removed from the city’s Housing Element last year. The property owner has also threatened the City Council with litigation.

The council’s action would also allow development on areas previously zoned for industrial or commercial. Two of those sites are the transit stations, which the North County Transit District has already announced plans to develop more housing.

The city, though, approved analysis for more density on those sites to bring more affordable units, although the new total has not been calculated, according to Eric Lardy, the city’s principal planner.

However, the city’s new inventory has at least 15% more capacity than required.

Additionally, The Shoppes at Carlsbad, a site long targeted for residential development by the city, would also be in line for a higher density.

“We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t,” Councilman Keith Blackburn said. “Nobody wants the density, and nobody wants it near where they are.”

Councilman Peder Norby said while no one wants more density in some of the areas, it is being forced by the state. He was also concerned with the allocation distribution as a majority of the new units would be in the northwest quadrant of the city.

Norby also said future RHNA allocations will put additional pressure on the council as the land starts to become less available to develop. He wanted fewer parcels to be included in the analysis, citing public outreach.

Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel said all parcels should be included to give staff the most flexibility for its environmental reviews. She said once the item comes back, the council can eliminate specific parcels as needed.

“It is a challenge and we’re definitely listening,” Bhat-Patel said of the housing issue. “We’re trying to balance the community’s comments and the state. If we start to pick and choose, it will limit us in our flexibility.”

Leave a Comment