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In 2013, city staff reached out to Barrio residents to gauge interest in its inclusion within the Village Master Plan. Photo by Shana Thompson
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Some changes for land use in Village, Barrio plan

CARLSBAD — In two weeks, portions of the recently passed Carlsbad Village and Barrio Master Plan will go into effect.

The areas outside the Coastal Zone fall under the new timeline, while inside the Coastal Zone, the plan will not begin until it is approved by the California Coastal Commission, which could take until 2019, according to Scott Donnell, senior planner for the city of Carlsbad.

Donnell detailed several elements of the plan including land use designations, which are related to many of the loudest complaints against the plan. Additionally, the city also incorporated the Barrio neighborhood, which was not part of the Village Master Plan approved about 20 years ago.

The inclusion of the Barrio offers numerous proposals and planned projects to enhance the area.

“In a lot of ways, the districts in this plan are similar to those in the old plan,” Donnell said. “The boundaries, at least in the Village, weren’t radically changed. The Barrio, south of Oak (Avenue), never had districts. The districts for that really just followed the General Plan designations for that area … because three to four years ago the city revised the permitted densities in the Barrio.”

The city broke the two neighborhoods into eight designations. The Village Center received the most attention, as 45-foot height limits within the district will remain. Elsewhere in the Village and Barrio, heights are limited to 35 feet.

In the Pine-Tyler district, the heights were raised in the new plan to 35 feet, from 30 feet under the current plan. Those are the only two height increases in the plan, Donnell said. The Pine-Tyler district was included since the adjacent districts were already at 35 feet.

The Village Center area, considered the core of the Village, allows for mixed-use buildings and focused on creating a retail environment, leveraging restaurants and their draw, with residences or office space on the upper floors.

Village General, which is in the northern most part of the Village, is more general as the name states, but recognizes a transition between the more intense Village Center and the residential areas near Laguna Drive, Donnell explained.

“Densities are lower, heights are lower,” he added of the Village General. “It’s more low-key type stuff.”

As for density, the Village Center and Freeway Commercial are the highest with a range of 28 to 35 dwelling units per developable acre, followed by the Barrio Perimeter at 23 to 30, Village General, Hospitality and Pine-Tyler at 18 to 23 and Barrio Core at eight to 15. However, residential development in Barrio Perimeter and Barrio Core cannot exceed the Growth Management Control Point levels of 25 and 11.5, respectively, according to the plan.

As for existing structures, Donnell said there are no major changes and individuals, businesses or schools (Army and Navy Academy) are not in jeopardy.

“In a way, it was if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Donnell said.

Other aspects of land uses include sidewalk and curb cafes, outdoor displays and parking, to name a few.

The Barrio neighborhood finally was able to secure special planning for the area, Donnell said. A proposal was introduced in the mid-1990s, but did not get approved, he added.

In 2013, city staff reached out to the residents of the Barrio to gauge interest in its inclusion within the Village Master Plan. Donnell said there was no pushback and the area was included, and now the combined area, with the Village, is 350 acres.

“They were receptive and we went with it,” Donnell said. “There really has not been any kind of issue of including the Barrio.”

As for development, he said there are “minimal” vacant lots scattered throughout the area. Donnell said much of the development will likely be redevelopment projects.

“It’s picked up more in the Village than the Barrio,” he added. “There is interest in the proposals. Generally, it tends to be tearing down and rebuilding.”


mary lynn August 12, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Carlsbad and Sacramento should work together to compensate the property owners fairly, and invoke eminent domain. The Barrio’s older structures should be torn down and we could build hundreds of really affordable housing units in their place. It’s exciting to see a truly progressive mayor get elected this November. Cori will transform Carlsbad with her vision.

Julie August 12, 2018 at 11:11 pm

Please give an example of which mayors in California
have invoked eminent domain.

Jan Neff-Sinclair August 12, 2018 at 3:33 am

To get a better feel for how the Barrio residents feel about the Carlsbad Village and Barrio Master Plan, see this Go Fund Me link where they are raising money to hire a lawyer to help them get some input into the Plan and some results from the city in response to them:

The extent that the city went to in order to keep the Barrio residents out of the process of creating the Plan includes refusing to publish any part of the Plan or the associated documents (including the itemized list of properties with the zoning changes) in Spanish. This was first requested at a large Planning Commission meeting on the Plan in the summer 0f 2016. There were numerous letters to the city and other requests for Spanish documents made at city council meetings.

The potential for under-representation of the Hispanic Community caused the city to go to district elections. Yet they could not be bothered to translate and publish the documents in Spanish?

In addition, there were six errata published for the Plan since this current version was released in January of 2018. Three of them were released in the week prior to the council vote on the Plan. None of these errata were incorporated into the Plan, making it difficult to read even if English was one’s native language. Even the council members themselves were not provided with a clean copy of the document that incorporated these errata. Some of them were released months before and there was certainly enough time to make the changes to the document files.

Jifor Payne August 12, 2018 at 12:49 am

Julie, thank you for clarifying that this was just ONE meeting in 2013 with the select Barrio residents. I wish that the article had been more specific. That changes the ENTIRE meaning of it.

T J Childs August 11, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Including residents in a meeting in Dec 2013 should not be conflated with acceptance of a plan. There are several issues with the plan. First and fore most it does not address the safety needs of Barrio Residents. So much so that our Group Barrio Carlsbad Community Advocacy are waging a GoFundMe Campaign to raise funds to hire legal representation.

I would be willing to discuss the issues addressed in this post with the author Mr. Pusterski. I can be reached at the email which was required to post this response.

The GoFundMe link is shown below.

The write up one will see when they click on the GoFundMe link above is shown below.
We as members of the Barrio Carlsbad Community Advocacy Group and as residents of the Barrio, the oldest neighborhood in Carlsbad, want to preserve and enhance its character and personality. While at the same time allowing for responsible development that is consistent with its charm and appeal. Safe well-lit properly marked streets and responsible height buildings, that are 30’ or less and have no more than 2 stories, are paramount to achieving this goal.
The Village and Barrio Plan has been under consideration and development for the last four years; with the City Council finally approving the plan in July 2018.

We are saddened that our elected officials have chosen to ignore ours and our fellow citizen’s recommendation for strategic modifications to the plan. Because there is no one else in the city to work with or to hear our message. It is with a sad heart and determined spirit that we must seek legal representation to have our modifications and recommendations heard.

We are raising funds to hire Attorney Everett Delano, of Escondido California. He has successfully worked with various citizens’ groups in Carlsbad to affect change and to “encourage” our Executive Decision makers to accept responsible compromises.

In order to do pursue this course of action, we need to raise 10K. Specifically, we need to raise 5k to by 16 August to give Attorney Delano a 5K retainer.

Please pass this request to any and all individuals who are willing to support this effort. Contributions of any amount are thoroughly appreciated. We need as many people as possible to see this request and assist us in this pursuit. Networking and spreading the word is especially important as we are asking one to limit the amount of individual donations to $200 or less. The GoFundMe platform does not allow a group to limit donations to a specific amount. So, we are asking all who choose to donate to honor the $200 limit.

We hope all individuals concerned about the future of the Barrio and Village contribute to this cause.


In response to requests for information about the concerns we are addressing. The following was written.

These are some of the safety issues we would like to discuss with the Attorney. There are other issues we are discussing amongst our group that we may also address with the Attorney.

We are asking that they be instituted independent of whether or not the Village or Barrio Plan was approved. Depending on what improvement is to be instituted it could take 1-4 years to get it instituted. See timetable in Chapter 5, pages 5-8,5-9,5-10,5-11.

We have consistently been told that we must wait until the plan is approved to get these improvements. We feel this means we were and are being held hostage to the plan and are being forced to accept a plan we have reservations with.

Our frustration is further exacerbated by the fact what while Barrio residents were being told to wait, the Village was and is being improved. New trash cans, new bike racks, new benches and some decorative lights have been installed in the Village. Additionally, in Feb of this year $120k was approved to study decorative lighting in the Village. Why is it that the Village rates improvements and the Barrio does not?

1. Repaint existing faded red curbs

2. Paint additional red curbs on the intersection that do not red curbs on some or all of their corners. One can see that because there is no red curbs painted on some of the corners of this intersection, cars can park right up to the end of an intersection. This makes it almost impossible to see around cars to one’s right and to one’s left when they pull into an intersection from an East West street. All most all of the intersections throughout the Barrio do not have the correct number of red curbs painted on its corners. We have constantly asked the City staff and the City Executive Decision Makers to paint red curbs throughout the Barrio. Little has been done to this end.

One of the most egregious intersections is Roosevelt St and Pine Ave. Who needs or wants red cubs in front of a fire hydrant.

3. Paint new hatch mark style crosswalks on all intersections. So, no matter which way one crosses the street they can use a new style crosswalk. This makes a big difference. See pictures below of the Jefferson St and Magnolia Avenue intersection. Initially, the city was only going to paint the new style hatch mark cross walk across Jefferson Street. We had to write to the city and ask them to create this style new crosswalks on all three sides of this intersection. luckily, they agreed to do this. But the old school non-descript style of crosswalks are at almost every intersection in the Barrio. New crosswalks need to be painted on all of the intersections in the Barrio. We have constantly asked the City staff and the City Executive Decision Makers to paint the new style crosswalks throughout the Barrio. Little has been done to this end.

4. Switch the stop signs so they face the longer north south street. To slow down traffic and make it easier to see when one stops at an intersection. The North South streets are the longer streets that people use to garner speed when they travel thru the Barrio. The stop signs face the shorter East West streets. Since not all of the corners of an intersection have red curbs painted on them. It means cars can park right up to the end of an intersections. This makes it almost impossible to see around cars to one’s right and to one’s left when they pull into an intersection from an East West street

5. New Lighting in the Barrio. We have asked for low cost Solar LED safety or streets lights that do not require extensive installation. There are major and minor streets within the Barrio which only have lighting on one side of the street. All of Madison Street and part of Harding Street have lights only on one side of the street. This makes it dangerous to cross a street at night, if one must cross the side of the street which has no lights. It also makes it hard for drivers to see people crossing the dark side of the street . Even the streets which have lights on both sides of them have large dark areas, because the lights are spread so far apart. There are alleyways in the Barrio on which homes front. The homeowners and renters who live in these homes, must drive up a dark unlit alley to get to their homes. These alleyways are very daunting at night and need to be lit.

Addie August 11, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Matt Hall is interested in just one thing…Matt Hall.

Julie August 10, 2018 at 8:01 pm

My husband and I have been homeowners in the south end of the barrio since 1998. I have been to an infinite numbers of barrio meetings, both with the city of Carlsbad and with other homeowners. Tenants (and I certainly do consider tenants Carlsbad residents) have been curiously absent from these meetings. In my experience (which I wish had been less extensive so I could be in the Pacific Ocean more ! ), Scott Donnell has been forthright, competent, knowledgeable and professional. I believe his comments in the article were made in a limited context – to a Very Special Meeting that took place in October,2013.
“In 2013, city staff reached out to the residents of the barrio to gauge interest in its inclusion within the Village Master Plan. Donnell said there was no pushback & the area was included. They were receptive, and we went with it. There really has not been any kind of issue of including the barrio.” This is true IN the context of one October 2013 meeting.

But here’s the curious thing about this October 2013 meeting.
I wasn’t invited.
My neighbors weren’t invited.
Knowing that Scott Donnell is forthright and competent, I asked him for the date and who attended this meeting a few years ago when I learned of it. He provided the date and the fact that the city had NO LIST OF WHO WAS EITHER INVITED OR PRESENT. He said that from his recollection it was “usual people who decide things in the barrio”.

My next door neighbor in 2013 (may he rest in peace) built his gem of a house with his bare hands, raised 8 amazing Carlsbad children in it, and lived in the barrio for over 50 yrs. Do you think he got the invite ? Hell, NO. If he was not a barrio stakeholder, exactly who was??? ? I’d really like to know.
I do not know a single one of my close neighbors – either homeowners or tenants, who were invited to this meeting . In spite of the fact that there was ample opportunity for barrio residents to object to being linked to the village, I still think we have a right to know who called these shots without having the simple decency to include the rest of us.Who called for or attended this Oct 2013 meeting? Thank you ,Steve, for bringing it up. Good reporting!
Some time after this unique “community” Oct 2013 meeting I began attending the monthly Barrio Strong meetings. At first, one of my straightforward retired neighbors reported on them to the rest of us, because 1/2 of them were at 8AM on Monday mornings, clearly set by Someone Special to eliminate any barrio residents with normal employment or a schoolchild . (That would be most of us… and no apologies on that) When my neighbor sold his house and moved , I began attending these meetings and asked Debbie Fountain (who works for the City of Carlsbad) if the meetings could take place in the evenings to be more inclusive She did . Many of the expensive things in Pine Park were already a done deal by this time(hmm) but we had input on the artwork which was nice. Debbie (an extremely competent person on the city payroll) was replaced by a PAID CONSULTANT, He was paid to dangle a particular carrot that another PAID CONSULTANT (Dover /Kohl)correctly ascertained was far and away the #1 thing that actual barrio residents wanted in any plan.
And is it in the plan? Hell,no.
But while Mayor Matt got his Very Own District, barrio residents are wondering exacting what they got in this lengthy and expensive process. Not even a red curb in front of a fire hydrant?? Seriously?? (while this seems like a no brainer, it is not the thing Carlsbad coughed up $$$$$$$ for a paid consultant. A moron on their day off would simply paint the curb – but barrio residents are afraid to get arrested despite one planning commissioner off the record advising “just go for it”.) There IS barrio pushback on this plan (clear if anyone watches the 3 planning commission meetings)because what IS there for the barrio residents in the plan ?
But that is not because Scott Donnell did not attempt to be receptive to community input – he did but he got blocked. And that’s the real story. And not even all of it …

Brian McInerny August 10, 2018 at 11:13 am

“They were receptive and went with it”. “There really has not been any kind of an issue including the barrio”. I just had to repeat these statements again because they are blatantly untrue. It is pretty clear that the city staff do the bidding of the Council not the community. Why is that? All you need to do to confirm this is to attend a Council meeting and witness how the public speakers are summarily ignored. If Council really cared about anything other than where their next cash infusion is coming from they might behave in a more receptive fashion when their constituents for whom they work speak.

Jan Neff-Sinclair August 10, 2018 at 1:34 am

“They were receptive and we went with it,” Donnell said. “There really has not been any kind of issue of including the Barrio.”

The Barrio residents were told that safety improvements that they had been asking for since 2013, including the installation of street lights on the very dark poorly lit streets, red curbs to stop parking to the end of the street which obstructs views when vehicles try to cross intersections, and cross walks, to name a few, would be tied to the Village and Barrio Master Plan. There was no reason to make them wait years to get needed safety improvements. But that linkage did ensure that many Barrio residents did not speak out against the Plan, even though the zoning changes could result in many current Barrio residents being evicted from their homes and out of the neighborhood.

The Barrio is a historic neighborhood. This Plan will see lots of that history gutted in order to build higher density expensive executive homes and vacation and time share properties for tourists.

“Donnell said much of the development will likely be redevelopment projects.”

That means tearing down the existing homes to make way for more profitable high density buildings. Just last week, a historic mural on a wall was destroyed by property developers. They have no interest in local history or anything other than making a profit. No plans were made to reinstall the mural somewhere and it is now a pile of rubble, gone forever.

The people in the Barrio are beginning to wake up and realize that this Plan is not good for them, their homes, their livelihoods, and their continued existence in the Barrio.

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