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Carlsbad to study lagoon recreation issues

CARLSBAD— As the only Carlsbad lagoon where recreational activities are allowed, Agua Hedionda Lagoon has become a local destination for jet skiing, paddle boarding, dog walking, and a host of other activities.

But city officials and residents are saying that the beach-like spot has become too popular and misuse is suspected to be causing damaging impacts on the natural lagoon.

“The word is out, it’s not the local secret that it used to be,” said Carlsbad Parks and Recreation Director Chris Hazeltine at the June 10 City Council meeting. “There’s a lot of issues (at Agua Hedionda) that we’ve identified.”

The city currently leases use of the lagoon to NRG Energy, which operates a power plant on the far west side of the lagoon.

Carlsbad also has an agreement with California Watersports, allowing for rentals of waterskiing, kayaking, and other water sports on the lagoon.

Yet numerous other private businesses have been operating at the lagoon on and off, including those that offer paddleboard instruction and paddleboard yoga. A local church also offers baptisms in Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

City staff is concerned that these businesses do not have permits from the city and do not carry licenses and insurance. The city is held liable for activities held at the lagoon.

“There are other businesses out there on the lagoon that we do not have any agreements with,” said city special projects manager Mick Calarco.

Staff, city police, and residents living near the lagoon claim to regularly witness visitors swimming in the lagoon, letting their dogs run around off leash, and parking illegally within the neighborhood, all of which violate city codes for the lagoon.

Owner of California Watersports Josh Kenner told City Council that rather than being worried about unpermitted businesses encroaching on his customers, he was more concerned about the safety issues caused by the unlicensed operations.

He said that unless police are present on the lagoon, there is no way he can prevent unsafe practices by individuals who rent water sports equipment or host lessons on the lagoon.

City staff requested permission from City Council to further investigate the problems at the lagoon into the peak summer season and consider ways to address the issues.

Lisa Rodman, executive of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, said that although the nonprofit does not have any specific complaints about the current usage of the lagoon, it is important to engage stakeholders in the development of new regulations.

City Council supported staff dedicating more time to studying the problems at the lagoon.

Councilmember Keith Blackburn specifically advocated for better resources for law enforcement to address misuses and violations at the lagoon.

Hazeltine said that city staff would be able to come back to city council with a report and recommended actions by early next year.



James July 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm

If you truly have a safety issue with businesses operating on the lagoon that’s fine, but don’t cloak the issue by punishing local residents who have come to paddleboard daily for many years by putting a representative with a tent, on July 4th no less (bad form) asking if we have a permit for our boards, stating that it will now cost $36 per year…..really? The last time I checked, no one has been injured doing paddleboard Yoga. What are you going to do next, paddle out at Tamarack with credit card machine for all the surfers? If the problem is powered vehicles then deal with it separately. Paddleboarding permit……..No one is buying it………..

Alpha July 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I walk Adams , a street with not much traffic and considerable undeveloped land on the north side of the Lagoon. I and a few others pick up the trash that looks safe to handle and some even trim back the bushes that push walkers into the street. Cigarette butts and beer cans abound. The users on the lagoon are generally having seasonal fun and paddle boarding has increased considerably and looks both healthy and gentle to the environment. The water skiers have practically vanished and the jet skis, still popular ,seem used safely for the most part although you will occasionally see the equivalent of a highway speedster weaving in and out, oblivious to others. Adams has a stop sign at its intersection with Highland but it gets a slow down and few full stops. The street’s swooping curves seem to invite the latent road racers who zips along ignoring the 25 mile speed limit. Walkers, bikers, and dog people abound. It’s a fine street for views and exercise. But it needs policing and there seems to be very little of it. Trash is worst where people move down the slope to the lagoon to fish and who knows, what shielded from view. Walking by, I look at a battery tossed down the slope along with construction trash, all of it too heavy to be pick up by a walker, and it tells me that no one is taking much care of this community asset. Here’s hoping.

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