The Coast News Group
A Carlsbad park ranger walks the grounds of Village H on Dec. 23. The Carlsbad City Council directed staff to work with the non-profit Preserve Calavera on a hybrid solution over the next two months regarding final plans over the Village H project, potential off-leash dog park and a preserve. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Deal over Village H moving forward with Carlsbad, Preserve Calavera

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad City Council on Dec. 10 directed staff to work on a deal with Preserve Calavera over Village H. The 60.9 acres of land is split on the north and south side of Carlsbad Village Drive and Victoria Lane.

The council said discussions with the nonprofit will span two months and staff will return will an updated report.

The city purchased the property from Presidio Cornerstone following a legal settlement with Preserve Calavera over the environmental impact report from the Quarry Creek development.

“It’s a lot of uses for one property,” Councilman Keith Blackburn said. “If both our staff and Preserve Calavera can come up with a compromise and an agreement, I think that would be beneficial. And make the project go faster.”

Kasia Trojanowska, park planner, said staff created a plan to include 2.7 acres for a dog park and 4.5 acres for the preserve, keeping the trail in place allowing for future connection to Tamarack Avenue.

Preserve Calavera, the nonprofit who brought the settlement agreement to transfer the deed to the city, has discretionary rights to enforce restrictive covenants on the property. Trojanowska said the Preserve Calavera board has several concerns over several proposed uses and potential impacts to wildlife. Carlsbad contracted with an environmental firm to conduct a wildlife movement study, which is a primary concern for Preserve Calavera.

The study began in June and is ongoing, although the results of the June through September study show images captured by cameras of a diverse wildlife population such as bobcats, coyotes, owls and raccoons.

“The recently received wildlife movement study provides a snapshot,” said Karen Merrill of Preserve Calavera. “That report covered 37 days when it closed and 37 days after it was opened. It does not capture the full picture.”

One reason she said, was four of the cameras along the trail were stolen. Although wildlife is on the move, Merrill said it is unclear as to how the potential change may alter those patterns.

Residents submitted renderings of their visions, which included 1.6 acres dedicated to the dog park and parking lot off of Victoria Street and Carlsbad Village Drive. A second option suggested 4.4 acres for the dog park and adding about 5 acres to the preserve.

The third option pitched was 5 acres for the park and adding 6 acres to the preserve. It would also remove the trail, thus cutting off access from the property to Tamarack Avenue, Tim Selke, parks and recreation service manager, said. He added those three options are “legally infeasible” due to the requirements in the settlement agreement and inconsistent with the Habitat Management Plan.

“It’s important to us to restore the off-leash use for the facility,” said Oceanside resident Tom Watson, uses the park often. “I believe strongly in the principle … function follows design.”

The city conducted a range of community outreach including a summer public meeting, direct mailers and online survey. Lancaster said the city solicited ideas from residents, some of whom are requesting the off-leash dog park.

The online survey showed 53% of residents who use the park exercise with their dog on a leash, 49% do so with off-leash does and 48% either socialize or exercise with a dog off-leash.