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Hall to seek third term as mayor

CARLSBAD — Although the election is more than a year away, Matt Hall said he plans to run for a third term as mayor of Carlsbad.

“I think Carlsbad is at a turning point,” he said. “Growth management is at the end of its life as we know it.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall

“I would like to work with the community to help create what the next vision will look like,” he added. “The next four years, in my perfect world, would be to get us started on our vision and our plan for the next 25 years.”

A third-generation San Diegan who was born and raised in Vista, Hall settled in Carlsbad in 1970 after completing his military service, during which he was awarded the Purple Heart.

He became involved in city government six years later as a member of the first Design Review Board for the village. After eight years he next served a decade on the Planning Commission.

Urged by the business community in 1992, he entered the City Council race.

“Ramona Finnila was successful and I wasn’t,” Hall said. “So I said, ‘Thank you, Lord.’ I was going to have fun and go back to my business.”

At the time, Hall was a scrap processor in the recycling industry.

In 1994, four months before the election, incumbent Margaret Stanton called him to say she wouldn’t be seeking re-election and urged him to run again.

The second time was a charm for Hall. He served continuously as a councilman until 2010, when then-Mayor Claude “Bud” Lewis decided not to seek a seventh term and backed Hall as his successor.

“We were an unbelievable team,” Hall said of his colleagues at the time, which in addition to Lewis and Finnila included Ann Kulchin and Julie Nygaard. “We had done so much as far as growth management and implementing that plan.

“But I felt there was a missing piece,” he added. “The relationship with the business community wasn’t close enough. … I strongly believe it’s the business community that really drives the ship. It finances who we are and what we can do.

“I wanted to build a closer working relationship between the business community and government, not to in any way lessen the standards, but to help the businesses here grow and attract new business to Carlsbad,” Hall said. “I think it’s been a home run.”

He said the best example is ViaSat, a Carlsbad-based communications company that in 2010 was housed in a 140,000-square-foot facility and employed 400 people. 

“They weren’t going to reinvest in Carlsbad and were planning to move out of the state because of tremendous frustration with California,” Hall said. “It took too long to get through the process.

“Through conversation and collaboration, they put together a team and we put together a team and a process that normally takes up to 10 months was completed in four-and-a-half,” he added. “We were successful in getting them to stay here.”

The company has since expanded to a larger facility and provides about 2,000 local jobs, he said.

According to Hall, the cost to maintain the city is increasing by about 4.5 to 5 percent annually. To maintain the quality of life, he said, “We need to make sure the income stream continues to match the expenditure stream, so council is looking out 10 to 15 years in its decisions.”

Hall has also collaborated with the mayors of the nearby cities of Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido “to leverage assets for the greater good of all,” he said.

For example, together they created Innovate 78 to attract businesses and their employees to the Highway 78 corridor.

“So when we have a business that wants to grow, we can work together to keep them here in North County,” Hall said. “It keeps the job base in the area.”

During his tenure the city also paid off the outstanding bonds on the public golf course to make that facility self-sustaining.

Hall said City Council doesn’t deserve all the credit for the city’s successes.

“Our staff is so dedicated,” he said. “People sometimes think Carlsbad is on autopilot and everything seems to move smoothly. It takes multiple teams to make that happen.”

Hall’s seven-plus years at the helm of San Diego’s fifth-largest city have not been without controversy.

Since the time he overtook the gavel, Carlsbad has had four different city managers, interims excluded.

“You’re always planning for the best, and if you’re not making continuous strides you’ve got to make change,” Hall said. “Perhaps they could manage but they … lacked the leadership abilities to take the city to the next level.”

He said most were “not a good fit” until they brought on Kevin Crawford, who has served as city manager since 2015.

Hall is also not particularly proud of the outcome of Measure A, a failed initiative that asked voters in February 2016 to support a high-end retail and restaurant complex on the strawberry fields east of Interstate 5 in the north end of the city.

“It was something we processed through the community,” Hall said. “There was a difference of opinion. Although the council thought this was an unbelievable project, the community felt otherwise.”

With a current population of about 113,000, Carlsbad will be at about 95 percent buildout when Robertson Ranch is completed.

Another project in the works is development of property across from Ponto Beach, which is currently in the process of creating a master plan that will include commercial, retail and multifamily units.

“We originally thought the population was going to be between 208,000 to 250,000,” Hall said. “Growth management brought that down to 135,000. The ultimate buildout is probably going to be more like 128,000.

“In 1994 we had a growth projection of 54,600 residential units,” Hall added. We eliminated 3,000.”

He said there is a building cap on the city as a whole as well as in each of the quadrants.

So contrary to some who say the city has become overdeveloped too fast, Hall says the numbers show growth has slowed down tremendously.

Nonresidential projects include a linear park south of the power plant and trenching in the village to put the train tracks below grade level.

The 2018 election will be the first time voters will elect council members by district rather than at large. However, the mayor will continue to be chosen by all registered voters.

In 2014, Hall ran unopposed.

“I doubt seriously that that happens this time,” he said.


Casi September 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm

If there was any doubt in the minds of those attending the City Council meeting on the night that Councilmember Cori Schumacher was suggesting changes and Mayor Matt Hall stated that “Carlsbad has been doing things this way for 30 years. I don’t see why we need to change now.” Wow!

Don August 31, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Pete, one simple question: Why? If you’re going to advocate for a candidate, perhaps you might try starting with giving reasons one might support said candidate. We’ll understand if you have nothing to say.

Lowell August 28, 2017 at 7:55 pm

If by “relationship with the business community” you mean “taking care of his drinking buddies and campaign donors” then I’d agree. Hall has sold out Carlsbad and doesn’t give a damn about those of us who actually live here.

Lowell August 28, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Matt Hall for dog catcher.

Pete August 26, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Matt Hall for City Hall

Patricia Amador August 16, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Matt Hall is running for mayor again & should be running his campaign Separately from City announcements ( State Of The City). He has a donation page included with the City document. Is that legal???

Cristi August 8, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I agree! Mr. Hall needs to go. We need someone who knows & loves Carlsbad and can help preserve it. We need a selfless person without their own ulterior motives. I also agree that term limits are important. No leader should be in charge & making decisions based on what is best for themselves & their associates.

Dennis August 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm

It’s nice to see a mayor that places such a strong emphasis on the relationship with the business community. When there is growth in business, the whole community benefits. It also becomes easier for other to get money to start a business too. I really hope that Hall does well in a third term and continues growth for the next 25 years in the area.

Julie August 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

“I would like to work with the community” from Matt Hall — this would be funny if it weren’t so false.. He’s had ample opportunity to show how he works with the community . Last August after the State of the City presentation, I asked Mr Hall is it was legal for him and Mr Packard to attend Barrio Strong community meetings or if there was a conflict of interest. These meetings are once a month at 6 PM – walking distance from both men’s businesses at that time.
Mr Hall confirmed that it was legal &”Ask someone else”. I then asked Mr. Packard who cited a time conflict with NCTD board meetings. I thought that was a good explanation at the time ,but much later learned that the NCTD meetings are scheduled at 2 PM or earlier.
These Barrio meetings are “facilitated” by a taxpayer paid consultant. At the meeting prior to Hall’s own Distillery Zone proposal going to planning commission , the consultant announced that MENTIONING which barrio development projects would be going up for approval was now beyond the scope of the community meetings ! To his credit, he encouraged people to check the planning commission website.
When it’s time to vote for mayor (and it’s far from time – as the opening of this article aptly pointed out) you’d better believe I’m going to “Ask someone else”.

Jan Neff-Sinclair August 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Carlsbad IS at a turning point. It is ready for grown-up citizen-represented government. Carlsbad is a charter city where land use and zoning decisions are supposed to be made based equally on input from the citizens and the city council. This has not happened in the 28 years I have been here. It is time to start living by our charter. It is a turning point. Can we convince Cori Schumacher to run for mayor?!?

Tanya August 4, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Hall is the poster child for term limits. His days of arrogantly dissmissing the will of the people are hopefully coming to an end. Hubris will be his undoing.

Lowell August 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Speaking of “LACKING LEADERSHIP”. Hall’s idea of leading is to do what he pleases and ignore anyone who disagrees with him, even if it’s the entire community. This dimwit couldn’t lead a group of Cub Scouts on a trip to McDonald’s.

Laura Drelleshak August 4, 2017 at 11:24 am

“A difference of opinion”??? Although “unbelievable” was certainly accurate.

Don Burton August 4, 2017 at 9:12 am

The only people who support Hall are his buddies in the hotels who stand to profit from his control of all decisions and his other pals who donate to his corrupt regime. Will someone please tell this guy that his days are over? There’s going to be a new sheriff in town, one who is not a TAKER but who cares about all of the citizens of Carlsbad, not just those who give money to his reelection (and of course outside developers). We’re sick of this guy’s ignorance, arrogance, crassness, and blatant self-serving greed.

Noel Breen August 3, 2017 at 9:54 pm

I look forward to seeing Mr. Hall’s political career ended next year.

Barbara August 3, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Carlsbad is looking for transparency in leaders that listen to the voices of ALL the citizens.
Carlsbad is diverse and this is what makes up our community. Not just “friends” of the Council and projects helping them to line their pockets.
We’re ready for that type of Mayor.

Erik August 3, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Mayor Hall needs to go. He should have done the honorable thing and resigned last year after We The People shut down his scheme to build a megamall atop Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

He’s continuing pushing to rezone land he owns in Carlsbad Village and his cronies are overdeveloping Village lots into 4-story office and condo blocks.

Carlsbad’s had enough of Matt Hall and his crooked cronies.

Douglas August 4, 2017 at 12:44 am


Noel Breen August 3, 2017 at 5:59 pm

I look forward to joining the thousands of voters Mayor Hall has let down, in supporting change in Carlsbad.

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