The Coast News Group

Letters to the Editor

Thank you, Robyn

As somebody who attended Carlsbad schools with you (I’m not sure if you remember me), I distinctly recall the stories you’d tell — and I remember kids asking if you had the chance to “crack the whip,” which of course is used to scare off crows and other birds from eating the crops.

Your family — and their farm — are special to the city of Carlsbad. It’s truly special that we have a developer who is willing to not only embrace that heritage, but save it.

I watched your father hold hands with you and your entire family the night of the council vote. I could see how much this meant to you all.

That wasn’t faked, and it wasn’t staged. Thank you for stepping up and saying something.

I hope Carlsbad residents don’t sign the petition, and I hope the Ukegawa farm is here to stay.

Sage Naumann,


Let the people vote

I live in Carlsbad, a well-planned city with lucrative revenues. I researched the 85/15 plan and supported it thinking that I would have the opportunity to review and comment on the Environmental Impact Report. However, the developer, with the support of the mayor and council, circumvented the public review process, denying us due process.

I signed the referendum petition because of the arrogant action by the council approving the developer’s plan without an EIR for Carlsbad citizens to review.

From my perspective, it smells of quid pro quo. Whatever the cost, let’s let the people decide.

Tere’ Renteria,


Unhappy with process

Land use planning should never be done by initiative.

The process is too complex if you are serious about creating a good project.

It is impossible to understand all the complex issues involved in a few paragraphs on a ballot measure.

Having said that, the State legislature did not do us any favors when they allowed that process to be used in this way.  Mr. Caruso and the 85/15 plan used a legal way to do just that.   Our city council did what they could to examine the project with a 365-page evaluation. I know they all spent hours looking over the proposed project.

Our community, Carlsbad, did not just happen.

We have a beautiful, well-planned community because of the rules that govern development here.

All of us spent a lot of time over the years setting up those rules that govern our development.

Probably the most important thing our council did was require Mr. Caruso to sign a document saying that he would abide by all those rules and regulations.

I am not very happy with how this process was used but I believe we are protected.

Signing another petition will not make it better.

City planning by ballot is not the best way to do business.

Julie Nygaard,

Former city council member, Carlsbad

RE: 85/15 Plan

The editorial on Sept. 11, written by Robyn Ukegawa, regarding the 85/15 plan for the strawberry fields is at once illogical and disingenuous in its representation of the facts pertinent to the important issues of developing this property.

The premise of the argument presented by the Ukegawa family is that if the citizens are given the option of expressing their opinion on whether or not to allow development on the area currently occupied by their “Strawberry Fields,” that three generations of heritage and hard work would be lost to the will of those who oppose it.

What the editorial did not address is why the family chose to enter into an agreement with an out of town developer to cede part of the property they already own for some obviously high dollar amount.

The family also cites the unanimous decision by the Carlsbad City Council to opt to bypass a public vote on the decision to develop this otherwise pristine property. It doesn’t take much reflection to understand why the City Council is effusive in their support of a project that will generate large tax revenues.

If the family is truly interested in maintaining their “Farming Tradition,” they could simply choose to continue what they have been doing for three generations.

If the 85/15 development has so much merit, why wouldn’t they trust the citizens of Carlsbad to reaffirm that proposal? As one of the multitude that is frequently caught in the gridlock of a parking lot known as Interstate 5, I don’t think the world really needs another Nordstrom-anchored shopping mall creating more congestion.

Don Bullock,


Tough running a small business

It is difficult running a small business. In fact, according to the annual survey, California is the absolute worst state to do business. And, farming in a coastal city?

I am surprised that any flower fields, nurseries or strawberry fields can exist in this day and age. It must be an incredible struggle just to break even. Jimmy deserves to be successful.

When I heard about Jimmy Ukegawa and the 85/15 project, I was intrigued. How was this project going to preserve open space, strawberry fields and build a shopping destination?

Once I toured the property and gained valuable knowledge about the project, it is my opinion that it will be great for Carlsbad, the environment, Jimmy Ukegawa and his family of next generation farmers. He’s even had three generations of loyal farm workers and his daughter wants to keep the business going for another generation.

Safeguards will be put in place to preserve native vegetation, clean up the open space and allow for citizens to have access (limited to trails) so that they can enjoy the beauty of the open space and views of the lagoon that are not normally able to be seen.

I know that no one likes change. But a lot of times change is a good thing. The five members of the City Council are our elected officials and want the best for Carlsbad.

Nothing happens overnight in this town. It happens after careful study and discussion.

The Planning Department and Council Members have poured over hundreds of pages of studies and maps and information on 85/15.

This project is already three to four years in the making with outreach from Caruso to the community.

There have been numerous tours of the grounds and information has been up on the City website for a while now. Let it proceed.

Contact Caruso and go on a tour and you’ll understand. Go see for yourself and your mind will be at ease. Mine was as soon as I went.

I am not receiving any form of compensation from anyone from Carlsbad, 85/15, Jimmy, etc. This is my personal opinion.

I agree with Robyn: Please do not sign the petition.

Lisa Gunther,



Don Burton September 23, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Since that other rag of a paper will only allow Caruso supporters to comment, let me just add that Patrick Ranberger who works for Voter Contact Services is indicative of the kind of paid signature gatherers that Caruso hired. He actually has a LinkedIn profile. If you don’t like getting annoyed by people hawking solar panels, that was his prior job. I’m sure all Caruso faithful supporters must be very proud to have him on their side.

Don Burton September 23, 2015 at 9:31 pm

You got it. You’ve educated yourself and have a clearer grasp of what is going on than most people. Certainly better than our mayor and city council who admitted that they never even read the original proposal. They left if up to their staff to do all that. I, unlike them, took the time to read ALL relevant documents. I also did a significant amount of independent research, uncovering all kinds of nasty little secrets in the process. Too bad there are no true journalists in SD County. That ought to be their job. In any case, the truth will come out and we will have a vote.

Jan Neff-Sinclair September 22, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Thank you, Don, for clarifying where Sage Naumann is coming from. I have seen and responded to his posts on, but didn’t understand to whom I was engaging in debate.

I read the letter from the Ukegawa daughter who stands to inherit her family business. I can see why she would want to keep the business lucrative and in the family. I can see why they don’t want things to change. However, just like any other large farming enterprise, they need to accept the changes that happen in the market and that are caused by regulations. If the business may become economically unviable soon, they need to change their business model. Many strawberry growers have moved their operations to Mexico because of the better climate, less regulation, and cheaper labor. I don’t think it is up to the city of Carlsbad or the citizens of Carlsbad to subsidize a multi-million dollar business just so that it can continue to operate in Carlsbad. I realize that it is a family business, but so is Walmart. The strawberry fields also have a checkered past in terms of how they treated their migrant workers. There were lawsuits although the final result was not allowed to be made public.

To respond to Dane who wanted us to “respect the process,” did Caruso Affiliated respect the process? No, they used a loophole to circumvent the CEQA review and other processes normally required for such large projects with so much impact. Their signature gatherers lied to the public, telling them that the petition was to put on the ballot a measure to save the strawberry fields. Neither a mall or anything relating to retail was disclosed. And then the issue did not even go to a ballot. So once again, the process was not followed.

The city council was aware that there was controversy over this project, but instead of letting it go to a vote so the controversy could be dealt with in an open and transparent manner, they decided to circumvent the voters’ wishes and vote to pass the project as it stood. They knew that this would let the developer bypass CEQA but went ahead anyway. They did not respect the process.

Finally, my understanding is that nowhere in the 4000 page document of the 85/15 plan is the Ukegawa family or the strawberry fields referred to specifically; there are just mentions of agricultural use of the land. It may be that after being the poster boy for the developer’s effort to stop the democratic process of letting the citizens vote, Jimmy Ukegawa may end up out of the picture.

Kim September 22, 2015 at 9:53 am

Go SIGN ……..THIS IS THE USA …….++++ I have 0 pity for Jimmy & Family ….look up & see how The Migrants that picked Their berries & tomatoes …lived like rats in a hole ……no water or toilets …..

Don Burton September 21, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Dane, You REALLY are a spambot. Don’t you need to have your batteries checked or something? Did Sage write a program to have your post automatically uploaded to every single comment section on the entire web? Well, at least you know how to use spellcheck. Apparently Sage thinks the Mayor’s name is “Call” and that we have a Councilmember named “Schumaker”. It’s great when you have so much respect for our trusted elected officials that you can’t bother to spell their names correctly, isn’t it, Saige Nawman?

Dane Pearson September 21, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Please respect the process & do not sign the petition for the best of Carlsbad. I urge those to respect the process. It was 3 years ago that Caruso and his staff learned, listened to the community of Carlsbad, and developed an outstanding comprehensive plan. Mayor Matt Hall and the Carlsbad city council, who we elect to make these kind of decisions, voted unanimously to support the 85/15 plan after hearing from a multitude of Carlsbad residents and thoroughly reviewed it. SDG&E owns the land that the strawberry farms are on and that this land has been in danger of being sold to developers for years. Many members of the City Council can testify to the efforts they have made to keep the fields in the city. If this deal is overturned it is very likely that Carlsbad will lose its iconic strawberry fields. If this deal is overturned something eventually will be built on the land. This deal also includes many protections and reforms that are needed. In addition, the land has been set aside for commercial use, so without the 85/15 plan we are very likely to see a 100% plan where we lose a lot more of the natural habitat then we will be today. The 85/15 plan includes water protections for the Agua Hedionda lagoon that would actually enhance the quality of the water that is there today.

Speaking as a Carlsbad resident, who wants to see future generations be able to embrace the strawberry fields, the 85/15 Plan means Jimmy Ukegawa’s beloved small family business is safe and Carlsbad’s strawberry farming is ensured for generations to come. Signing the petition discounts the positions, duties, and unanimous vote by Mayor Matt Hall and the Carlsbad city council, including a thorough review of the plan.

The 85/15 Plan means 176 acres of new access to open space for Carlsbad families at no cost to taxpayers and this can all be lost if the petition is signed
Respect the process, respect the unanimous decision by Mayor Matt Hall and the city council of Carlsbad, who we elect to make these decisions, and respect Jimmy Ukegawa’s beloved strawberry business.

Please support the unanimous vote of our trusted Carlsbad city council members, and respect the process. I am a proud Carlsbad resident who graduated from Carlsbad High (’11), recent college graduate with honors from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and came back to Carlsbad to be a proud resident of this wonderful city. This process and plan must continue as is, for what it provides to Carlsbad, and how thoroughly reviewed it has been. And a unanimous vote by a trusted mayor and city council, who were voted in, should stand for something and be respected.

Don Burton September 18, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Ms. Nygaard,
You make a valid point then proceed to undercut your own argument. If such is the logic employed by FORMER city council members, one has to wonder what kind of logic is being employed by the current ones. I think we all know the answer to that. The greater and more significant question is WHY did Caruso decide to use the initiative process and WHY aren’t elected officials across the state doing everything they can to close the loophole that allows developers to hijack something that was never intended to be used by developers in order to bypass CEQA? Must be some very clever lawyers and lobbyists working for those developers up there in Sacramento. Too bad we here in Carlsbad are equal to the task of seeing through their shellgame. Why not join the effort and redeem yourself?

Don Burton September 18, 2015 at 6:44 pm

In the interest of transparency, perhaps Ms. Gunther ought to disclose her relationship to the Mayor and City Council and tell us why, after being quiet on this particular topic for so long, she all of a sudden felt such an urgent need to interject herself into the discussion? Could it have something to do with the pending decision about her gun range?

Don Burton September 18, 2015 at 6:42 pm

In the interest of transparency perhaps Sage Naumann needs to disclose that he is the web designer for Callidus Consulting Group (Janette Littler) who is both a paid consultant to the developer Caruso and a paid consultant to both Mayor Hall and Councilmember Schumacher. Gives new meaning to the concept of trickle-down, doesn’t it?

Greg September 18, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Building a mega mall with a pay parking lot on our fragile lagoon is a bad idea. Today I sat in traffic on the 5 for an hour. What are you people thinking?

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