CARLSBAD — Three candidates are vying for the vacant City Council seat in District 1 and took on questions regarding the most pressing issues in the district and city during a Jan. 20 forum at the Senior Center.
More than 100 people crammed the small conference room, moderated by T.K. Arnold, to watch as incumbent Cori Schumacher and challengers Simon Angel and Tracy Carmichael gave their views on topics including the Village and Barrio, development in the neighborhoods, homelessness, trenching the railroad tracks, accessory dwelling units and density.
As for the candidates, each presented their top three issues facing the city. Schumacher said homelessness, affordable housing and traffic mitigation and parking top her list.
Carmichael said public safety, homelessness and effective government are her top three priorities, while Angel said preserving open space, maintaining the city’s character and managing growth top his list.
Schumacher leaned on her experience on the council, as she was elected in 2016, noting her work with the California League of Cities, the San Diego Association of Governments and helping pass state legislation while working for Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath.
She also prioritized the Village and Barrio, noting the master plan is returning to the council and is still in need of work. In addition, she also said homelessness is a critical issue, noting a federal court decision requires a 1:1 ratio for shelter beds, which is the city is short.
“We have ordinances for encampments (and drug abuse) and we are the first city in the county to have an action plan,” Schumacher said. “One problem is the county not spending $170 million.”
Angel also is concerned with development efforts, noting the newer designs and four-story buildings currently under construction. However, he said after decades of neglect in the Barrio the city is using more aggressive measures to address traffic speeds and other issues rather than starting smaller and re-assessing.
Regarding the homeless, Angel said it will take an effort from city, county and state officials to secure funding.
Carmichael said state laws releasing convicts has spurred the problem, along with spiking crime. She said a starting point is to unite those on the streets with their families.
“We need to make sure we have laws in place to keep you and your family safe,” Carmichael said. “A solution are safe zones around our schools, parks and beaches.”
As for trenching, she said her concerns stem from the numerous bluff collapses in Del Mar and she questioned whether a $330 million investment would be beneficial if the state cannot quickly address rail stability down the corridor.
Schumacher said there are bigger issues in front of the council, but said trenching in the future is important, citing an economic study conducted several years ago detailing the benefits to the Village. Also, she said it will open up gathering spaces in the Village and provide a safe crossing at Chestnut Avenue.
Angel said he was worried about the $330 million tag, saying those estimates are in “2016 dollars), along with no solid detailed plan for the engineering being released yet.
“I support it, but I have questions,” he said. “The problem is it’s just an overview and the devil is in the details.”