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Rick Caruso, right, and Carlsbad City Councilman Keith Blackburn, second from right, discuss Measure A with members of the Carlsbad Police Association, who endorsed the project last week. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Police Association endorses Measure A

CARLSBAD — With less than a month remaining, the heat is turning up on gathering allies for Measure A.

Last week, Caurso Affiliated and the Yes on A camp gathered another big endorsement — the Carlsbad Police Association. It marks the second big union endorsement after the firefighters announced their support two weeks ago.

“If passed, Measure A will provide nearly $10 million in traffic improvements,” union President Jim Willis said. “It can be used to improve emergency services such as police and fire. We have reviewed Measure A and as an association, we believe it’s good for Carlsbad.”

The measure, also known as the 85/15 plan, proposes to commercially develop about 27 acres and create 177 acres of open space along the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon off Cannon Road. A successful referendum by opponents was certified in December and the special election is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Rick Caruso, owner of Caruso Affiliated and the major funding source for the plan, said having the CPA on board is another positive sign for passing the measure.

The developer also has strong ties to law enforcement, having previously served as the president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners in the early 2000s.

“Their mission is to protect and to serve,” Caruso said. “They have no interest or agenda unless it’s in the best interests of the residents they serve. That’s why I am so honored and humbled that the Carlsbad Police Association … are supporting this measure unanimously with the fire association, the paramedics, the City Council and other great elected and appointed officials in this city.”

Willis, who has been with the department since 2008 and took over as president last year, said the traffic improvements are a big reason why the CPA supports the measure.

“We were drawn to the fact that the road improvements and also the new city tax dollars can be used for more city services,” he said. “In researching the past projects Mr. Caruso has been involved with, we were very impressed. I reached out to a fellow police association in Glendale … they had nothing but great things to say about Mr. Caruso.”

Caurso built the Americana at Brand in Glendale, which opened in 2008 with 600,000 square-feet of retail space and 450,000 square-feet of residential space.

Green plastic lining outlines what may be three miles of hiking trails near the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon. A special election will take place Feb. 23. Photo by Steve Puterski
Green plastic lining outlines what may be three miles of hiking trails near the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon. A special election will take place Feb. 23. Photo by Steve Puterski

The property, meanwhile, offers spectacular views of the lagoon and its surrounding environment, which has become a point of contention between supporters and opponents.

Miles of trails are marked with neon green plastic tied to poles. According to Caruso’s proposal, residents will be allowed to step foot on the open space, which includes hiking trails and picnic areas.

However, a habitat management line has been established from the shoreline to, at points, 50 to 100 feet inland, excluding a big chunk east of the proposed trailhead, and will not allow for any development or clearing of plants.

One vocal supporter, Jimmy Ukegawa, owner of the Carlsbad Strawberry Company, said much of the commercial development will be blocked from view from a hill where his products are currently produced.

In addition, his unused portions are now certified organic and will be reintroduced into the harvest should Measure A pass. He also said farm-to-table production will lower the cost of his fruit.

Ukegawa said the swaths of invasive weeds will be removed, trails created and his production expanded, which are several reasons he is in support.

According to officials with Caruso Affiliated, if Measure A passes, it will take two years to develop the commercial and open space on the site.


Mandy Barre January 30, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Of course the police are self-interested….they have to negotiate pay raises with 5 council that just love this project! Jeez.

Patricia Cratty January 27, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Of course police and fire support the Mayor’s project. Their jobs are controlled by the actions of Council. Don’t be fooled by the ploy. Support a better community, vote NO on Prop A. Work to elect council members that will represent citizens not their personal interests.

alice reysbergen January 27, 2016 at 9:00 am

Will Proposition A improve open space access?

per Los Angeles Developer Caruso..
“Proposition A creates new access to approximately 176 acres for low-impact use on land that is currently privately owned. Prop A sets aside the permanent open space in a land trust to be managed by a qualified, environmentally-focused nonprofit”

Conservation easements – A voluntary legal tool that allows the land to remain in ‘private ownership’

This would be an entirely new plan for Carlsbad – to have a conservancy for trails. Else where in the city of Carlsbad – where trails are on private land..the landowner grants an easement to the city – and the city is responsible for the public trail. These 176 acres will NOT be public land – but held in private ownership.

Prop A Open Land – currently owned by SDG&E – will be sold to Caruso. Caruso will decide which Conservancy he wants to donate it to. The Conservancy is private ownership. in actuality, Prop A is NOT donating the land to the Public!

if Prop A passes, the 176 acres will continue to be privately owned.

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