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Carlsbad city staff concludes 85/15 is consistent with planning framework of city’s General Plan, Draft General Plan Update and Draft Climate Action Plan. File photo
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If OK’d, mall would be subject to all the city standards

This is the final article in a three-part series on Measure A

CARLSBAD — On Tuesday, the vote counting will begin on Measure A, otherwise known as the 85/15 plan, which proposes to develop 26 acres for a luxury mall and 177 acres for open space including hiking trails on the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

The Coast News has summarized several aspects of the 9212 report, which was commissioned by the city of Carlsbad’s with numerous independent firms to review Caruso Affiliated’s 4,000-page document commissioned by the Kosmont Group.

This is the final summary from The Coast News to give readers a brief insight into the report and its findings. The full document can be found on the city’s website.

In this installment, The Coast News covers the environmental issues surrounding the site and what, if any, potential concerns may arise from developing the land.

The city’s staff concludes 85/15 is consistent with planning framework of city’s General Plan, Draft General Plan Update and Draft Climate Action Plan.

Measure A, however, is still subject for approval by the California Coastal Commission for consistency with the Coastal Act and development policies including those defined in the Agua Hedionda Land Use Plan. The commission can modify the plan should it pass on Tuesday.

One of the most pressing concerns for opponents is the amount of toxaphene in the soil. Part of the so-called “Dirty Dozen,” the organic pesticide is associated with numerous diseases and birth defects in livestock and humans.

The Environmental Protection Agency canceled all uses and outlawed general use of the pesticide in 1990. Long-term human studies have not been conducted, but have been with animals resulting in developmental and nervous system toxicant and a possible carcinogen, according to the 9212 report.

The city document, however, states less than 6,000 cubic yards of soil contain toxaphene at levels exceeding state standards for the Visitor Serving Commerical (VSC) portion of the site.

While the 48-acre site has undergone testing, Gary Barberio, Carlsbad’s assistant city manager, said the remaining portion of the site must be surveyed if the project passes.

“They’ll need to do deal with that during or prior to construction,” said Barberio, who reviewed the reports. “They did a very good job of testing on the 48 acres … but they are going to be doing some development on the open space. There will need to be additional testing on those areas that will be disturbed. A lot of areas have been developed that were previously (agriculture).”

The plan also calls for expanding agricultural uses, most notably strawberry farming.

The 9212 report states revenue sources from the initiative’s visitor serving commercial uses “and/or” private funding would maintain the lands in perpetuity, although the requirements must be in place prior to the opening of the commercial uses.

Long-term viability on the site, however, depends on the individual growers, market trends and development pressures for other land uses the, “Initiative area would likely increase the economic viability of agriculture on site through agri-tourism and direct agricultural sales opportunities,” the report states.

In addition, Caruso Affiliated must have in place storm water treatment for runoff from rain. Currently, the site does not have such measures in place as pesticides, fertilizers and dirt, among other debris and chemicals, run freely into the lagoon.

“They will be subject to all the city standards, which are the state’s standards,” Barberio said. “There is a laundry list of water quality protection … standards for all developments. They will have to do yearly reporting … and there are 31 water quality protections built into the plan.”

As for air quality, the 9212 report finds the proposal meets all criteria except for the Regional Air Quality Strategy (RAQS). Construction and operation “would exceed significant thresholds” for certain pollutants, “a significant and unavoidable impact.”

The 585,000 square-feet exceeds the 2009 San Diego RAQS projection of 463,00 square-feet, but falls within the city’s General Plan and SANDAG’s (San Diego Association of Governments) regional plan.

The two-year construction plan estimates 3,574 metric tons of CO2E (carbon dioxide equivalent) and during operations would generate 33,116 metric tons of CO2E per year.

“With the higher square footage, it’s not consistent with that,” Barberio said of the RAQS. “They need to implement mitigation. It’s not unusual for larger developments to exceed the standard because of the fact that we are a nonattainment area, San Diego is, and the standard is pretty low because of that.”

Yet another issue is the views from the proposed center. Opponents argue concrete structures will damage those driving and living along the lagoon, while supporters say hills to the east of site will block most of the buildings from those hiking along the trails.

Regardless, the plan does not call to change Carlsbad’s height restriction of 35 feet and will rest in designated zones away from the bluffs.

“They are adhering to our standards,” Barberio said. “They are addressing screening of lighting from the shopping center to the open space.”


Mandy Barre February 23, 2016 at 11:43 am

Whoever wrote this has no idea what they are talking about. The City of Carlsbad has no say in what is developed there at this point if the $10Million Caruso spent wins the election.THIS IS PURELY AN OPINION PIECE AND SHOULD BE LABELED AS SUCH!

band2 February 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm

I propose the coastal news group shift from being a mouthpiece for caruso and start doing some reporting…

Questions: Why would Mayor Hall spend $500k of our taxes to cram this down the throats of the citizens of carlsbad instead of waiting a few months for the community to be exposed to the facts related to this strip mall type development. If it’s such a great plan, why is Mayor Hall and his benefactor, Caruso’s, organization using such deceitful tactics. When have you ever heard of a mayor lobbying to give away control to a developer- he is doing everything in his power to let the fox guard the chicken coop. Doesn’t this seem fishy?

Also, coastal news, why not explain (factually) why it is better for the citizens if Caruso does not go through the normal development process.

Perhaps you can report on the FACT that Nordstrom said they are not building any new Nordstroms for several years, but they are building more new Nordstrom Racks – see recent SEC filings for this. Report on the fact that Caruso has not guaranteed a Nordstrom – yes, we may end up with a Nordstrom Rack outlet.

Maybe, explain why housing can not go in there- the pesticide levels are too high. Ask Lennar- they wanted nothing to do with the pollution levels there. Is it the Carlsbad Strawberry company that polluted the bluffs?

How about some factual reporting Coastal News???

band2 February 22, 2016 at 4:38 pm

I am curious if this posts- seems the paper filters these comments.
The Coastal news should disclose at the beginning of each article how much it has received from Caruso, his affiliates and supporters of measure a. It appears every article and posting is favorable (overtly and subtly) to measure a and the references are questionable and, quite frankly, often times do not appear to be true…When this measure is done, hopefully in defeat, I will no longer support this paper or any of its affiliates. It’s a shame a community paper would support such a divisive measure clearly splitting a community- my mistake, there is no community in this paper.

Bill Hays February 20, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Do a search on Measure A for the word “exempt.” It comes up 60 times in the document….because the developer is exempted from City Standards, not meeting them.

Patrick finn February 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

The environmental impact of 12m visits per year seems to be crassly overlooked. Traffic management plans are laughable and with the current rate of growth in Carlsbad, the village by the sea will lose its character for ever. There is no going back after the concrete is poured, it’s bad for Carlsbad now and a terrible legacy for future generations.

CNC Marketing February 20, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Read ANY of the letters from Holzmiller, Ball, Munoz, Jim Moriarty, Sierra Club, BV Audubon, Batiquitos Lagoon, and Caltrans to dispute the information in this article.


Cori February 20, 2016 at 5:27 pm

“The 585,000 square-feet exceeds the 2009 San Diego RAQS projection of 463,00 square-feet, but falls within the city’s General Plan…”

The missing element in this statement is that prior to the September 2015 Carlsbad General Plan amendments (which the City Council approved in the midst of the referendum campaign for a vote on Caruso’s project on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon), a 585,000 square-feet visitor serving commercial development on this property was not allowable in the General Plan. Indeed, a “visitor serving commercial” land use designation did not exist in the General Plan prior to these recent General Plan amendments. While City Staff might maintain that the new land use designation “VSC” is simply a semantic change from the old “Travel-Recreation” land use designation, a closer review reveals additions that strangely mirror what Caruso wishes to develop, e.g. cinemas.

Currently, the City’s General Plan amendments which apply to this development are being held in abeyance until after the vote.

It is difficult for many of us in Carlsbad not to question the timing of the amendments to the General Plan that reflect so closely what Caruso’s vision is for the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. We understand that these amendments have been planned for some time, but, as Caruso has stated often, he has been working closely with the City for the last 4 years in the planning of the law and development we now know as Measure A.

Vickey Syage February 20, 2016 at 5:24 pm

I wish you would have taken a moment to read Measure A. It’s long. It’s complex. It was written by the developer’s lawyers to completely benefit him and give him every advantage possible. It contains the word “exempt” 60 times. It contains the word “amend” 268 times. And in case they missed anything here is the “insurance” paragraph taken directly from the initiative from page Q-19:

“If any provision of this Specific Plan is inconsistent or conflicts with the requirements of the
Carlsbad Municipal Code or other applicable, adopted rule, regulation, or official policy of the
City, as they existed on the date of filing the Notice of Intent to Circulate the Specific Plan
Initiative, or may thereafter be amended, the provisions of this Specific Plan shall take
precedence, control, and govern in the Specific Plan area. ”

Measure A rewrites Carlsbad existing laws. It exempts itself from existing code. And for good measure, if they miss anything or forgot anything – this paragraph gives Measure A “precedence and control.”
We are not voting on campaign promises or marketing materials. We are voting on an extremely complex, 397 page initiative that was written to benefit the developer, not the City of Carlsbad or its residents. There really is only one rational vote and that’s NO on A on Tuesday, Feb 23rd. This developer can do what every other developer in Carlsbad has done before – go through the normal process. And if he can’t, well then, farewell. Build somewhere else. #VoteNoOnA #WeAreNotLA #Save Carlsbad

Patricia Amador February 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Steve: wish you had spent some time in Carlsbad with those of us who have studied the plan and the possible destruction of the site on the Agua Hedionda. Have you spoken with anyone at Citizens for North County? Perhaps the long term view of what the developer is really ‘after’ is a change in zoning to allow condos on what were ‘strawberry fields forever’. Once a mall is built, he’s outta there. He doesn’t operate the mall but rents the space to retailers AND advertising. The powers lines will NEVER go away. Please look at the SEMPRA website. Those of us who have struggled to be able to Vote on February 23rd and have the truth of the long term development on the site known & understood by all citizens, we would not be voting on this Measure. AND please look at the recently released financials from the developer and TO WHOM money was paid.

Guardian February 20, 2016 at 11:26 am


Dave February 19, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Now I get it. Caruso used to only buy ads in the Seaside Courier. But his most recent financial disclosure shows he bought ads in the Coast News too. If you don’t want to see objective reporting on your proposed mall, just buy ads in both papers, right?

Don February 19, 2016 at 6:13 pm

How about the most obvious question here? Regardless of whether this is the most fantastic mall in the history of mankind, how about the question of whether some citizens DON’T WANT IT! Our opinions were ignored and discounted from the beginning as this entire proposal was rammed down our throats, presented as a fait accompli, but based on lies and quicksand from the start. We will have the vote that was promised us, not because Caruso said we could vote on it, but because the citizens of Carlsbad mobilized to summon the courage to stand up for our rights. And all along our city is WASTING TAXPAYER DOLLARS promoting this private developer’s dream. Your days are numbered.

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