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Citizens’ group challenges city’s plan on housing element

CARLSBAD — A newly formed citizens group is challenging the city of Carlsbad’s decision to pave the way for multiple high-density developments in areas previously designated as low-density, agricultural or open spaces.
On Dec. 22, City Council unanimously approved revisions to the city’s Housing Element and a related Mitigated Negative Declaration, lowering the barriers and restrictions on development for two private projects.
“The inclusion of these two projects — Bridges at Aviara, sometimes referred to as PonteBello, and the Quarry Creek project, which includes the El Salto waterfall — allows extensive, new development that would otherwise be prohibited,” said De’Ann Weimer, president of the Aviara-area citizens group. “The city is required to adopt a plan that is consistent with existing Land Use and zoning provisions, but it is ignoring these requirements. Apparently, the city’s rules and regulations are to be read as facts by its citizens, but are regarded as fiction by the council itself.”
In a Jan. 15 filing, the Friends of Aviara petitioned the California State Superior Court to declare invalid the Housing Element adopted by the city. The organization is represented by Everett L. DeLano III of Escondido. Of particular concern to Friends of Aviara is a proposed high-density, 76-unit apartment complex that would abut the campuses of the Aviara Oaks Middle and Elementary Schools, potentially exacerbating the traffic and safety issues for more than 1,200 children going to and from school.
“To consider this area for any type of development, other than in support of the school campus or as open space, strikes Friends of Aviara as irresponsible and makes one wonder why the city wishes to toss aside decades of housing policy. As written, the Housing Element fails to follow the state’s directive that communities think proactively about development, consider the needs of all residents regardless of socioeconomic background, and plan in concert with environmental preservation goals,” Weimer said.
The Friends group believes that in addition to impacting the school environment, the proposed high-density apartment complex would “deface the western slope of one of the last canyons in the area.”
The environmental impact review is not expected until March, however, the opposition believe the council approved the inclusion of the high-density apartment complex “without regard to the welfare of the local habitat, or the nearby Batiquitos Lagoon.”
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