CARLSBAD — A group of Carlsbad residents is rallying for an off-leash dog area and community gathering space on property that the city will soon acquire. The open space and habitat management land located south of Carlsbad Village Drive and Victoria Avenue is known as Village H South.
The area is currently used by about 30 people a day, who walk, bike or enjoy time with their dog.
Lonnie Smith said residents that live near the Village H South site have been working to preserve the open space for decades. The current community group calls itself Advocates of Village H.
Recently community efforts have moved forward. In a lawsuit settlement over the Quarry Creek development the developer purchased the Village H site and is in the process of transferring the final south section to the city.
A possible use of the site is city trails that would require dogs to be on leash.
“We do not want an official trail in that area, we’re exploring other possibilities,” Smith said.
Instead residents are proposing relocating city trails outside of the area, and creating a special use area where dogs can play off leash.
To further their goal residents have collected 200 signatures that support a community gathering area.
They also spoke to City Council members about the need for a gathering space, and walked the site with Mayor Matt Hall on Feb. 24.
“He was delighted with what he saw and understands the value people place on it, we had a great conversation with him,” Smith said.
Challenges that lie ahead are final transfer of the property, gaining community support and City Council approval of an off-leash dog area and gathering space.
Carlsbad resident Kasey Cinciarelli said residents are working to inform the community about the benefits of a gathering space where people can connect with nature and gain a sense of belonging, and where their pets are happier.
She said the area has been long used and maintained by residents who pick up after their dogs, and cause little disruption to wildlife.
The Preserve Calavera conservation group has worked for 20 years to protect and restore the adjacent Village H North land. Diane Nygaard, Preserve Calavera president and founder, said the group is agreeable to pet-friendly uses of the south parcel as long as dogs are leashed.
“Dogs, people and wildlife can coexist,” Nygaard said. “We don’t support off-leash dog areas. Dogs make a tremendous impact on wildlife off leash.”
Mayor Hall said the city planning process will help meld different ideas on use of the area.
Hall said community input will be gathered on a preliminary design for the open space and habitat management land. Then a final design will be developed and approved by the Planning Commission and City Council.
Hall added he is glad interested residents are already having conversations with city staff.
“Everything is up for discussion,” Hall said.
The land is expected to be transferred to the city within six months. Advocates of Village H plan to share a site use plan with City Council prior to that date.