The Coast News Group
Community CommentaryOpinion

Strawberry fields project will be economic boon

I spent over 14 years working to put up the Carlsbad sign in our community. Through years of hard work and collaboration with neighbors and friends across Carlsbad, we erected a sign that will be a shining beacon of our community for generations to come.

When Southern California developer Caruso Affiliated entered into a contract to purchase 203 acres of land off Interstate 5 and Cannon Road at the South Shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, they met with residents like me to hear from us and discuss their thoughts and ideas. After speaking with thousands of residents at hundreds of community meetings, white board presentations, bus tours to The Grove, and even coffees in residents’ homes, Caruso Affiliated heard from us loud and clear.

They heard we wanted to protect open space. They heard we wanted to preserve the strawberry fields and fragile coastal agriculture that adorn the property. They heard we wanted a community-gathering place for families to enjoy our Carlsbad lifestyle.

And from those conversations, the Agua Hedionda 85/15 Plan was born; a plan that turns 85 percent of the land into newly accessible open space and protects and preserves strawberry and agricultural fields and turns 15 percent of the land into an open air pedestrian friendly shopping, dining and entertainment promenade.

The open space will give Carlsbad families new ways to enjoy the outdoors with amenities like walkable wilderness trails, picnic areas with lagoon views and an outdoor education program focused on our local habitat. But I don’t believe we can overstate the importance of the 15 percent retail promenade — anchored by a best-in-class Nordstrom store — which I believe will be an important and prosperous driver of Carlsbad’s future.

Not only will revenue generated from the 15 percent retail element go toward fully funding the permanent conservation and maintenance of the open space, but I believe it will grow into a beloved community gathering place for all Carlsbad families.

The promenade is designed in concert with Carlsbad’s traditional beach community character and will reflect the local architecture and priorities of our town. The retail element will also open the door for residents to high-quality dining and shopping options we don’t have without heading to other cities, and handing over our hard-earned disposable income and tax revenue.

The plan is slated to include the only chef-driven concept restaurants in Carlsbad with exclusive views of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Like the open space adorning it, I know this land will become a destination spot where Carlsbad can go to catch a show, grab a bite to eat and sip some wine while watching the sunset over the Lagoon — a uniquely Carlsbad experience that will put our community’s character on full display.

Not only will this project be an economic boon for our city — with estimated annual tax revenues between $4.1 million and $5.8 million going into our city coffers, funding our schools, parks and public safety without burdening taxpayers one penny, but it will also help support local small businesses. Caruso Affiliated has committed to implementing a small business program (as they’ve done on their other properties) that allows local mom-and-pop shops to lease storefronts on the property at reduced rates, based on their own annual revenue. As the former chairman of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and a local small business owner, I applaud this innovative program and the on-going effort to give local small businesses new opportunities to succeed and grow.

In this time of drought, the 85/15 Plan utilizes the latest technology and innovations. The plan’s area will consume less potable water than what has occurred from previous agricultural uses. The plan also mandates recycled water for landscaping irrigation and water saving best practices.

All buildings on the 15 percent will also adhere to the latest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Core efficiency standards and include solar panels, high-efficiency lighting and electrical vehicle charging stations.

I’ve spent my life in this community and there’s nowhere other than Carlsbad that my wife Sandy and I would rather live raise our family and grow our business. I am committed to making sure we, as a community, move forward the right way—by protecting our open space and making our strawberry fields sustainable for future generations, by supporting local small businesses, and by giving families community gathering places to enjoy the company of friends, our great weather, lifestyle and amazing outdoors.

Carlton Lund is a local realtor, 2007 Carlsbad Citizen of the Year, and Immediate Past Chairman of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.


This op-ed has been corrected since its original posting.


greg September 16, 2015 at 12:11 pm

It’s really interesting to watch this play out. The lies keep piling up! 85 15 is not a good fit for Carlsbad!

Cross Purposes June 20, 2015 at 8:50 am

The building policies in North County are at odds with each other and contradict positions to address green house gases and water shortages.

On the one hand, builders want to build high-density market rate housing in Encinitas “as a proxy” for affordable housing to meet the needs of low income residents. This improves the bottom line for developers but taxes resources and does ignores the spirit of the law.

On the other hand, builders want to create huge new shopping malls that will draw cars from surrounding areas, thus increasing the carbon footprint and taxing water, roads and other resources.

The common thread is that what is good for developers goes. We need to consider people already living here and the find ways to preserve our quality of life. For me, it isn’t about another Nordstrom!

cathy June 19, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Tony Cagala,

It’s fine that you are allowing Carlton Lund to give his opinion about the project but it would be nice if The Coast News reports about what is truly happening with the 85/15 project. Why the developer is spending huge amounts of money on mailers, meetings and paid employees to collect signatures. THIS is the story that needs to be told. How the developer with his initiative will be allowed to bypass the process that developers are generally required to follow. The PROCESS is the concern. The process is what he is trying to avoid.

Please read the following article and report on it to help educate the public. Thank you.

Tony Cagala June 15, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Mr. Wilson,

Thank you for your comments, however, the piece you are commenting on is an unsolicited opinion from Carlton Lund. Yes, Mr. Lund does run an advertisement of his real estate group with The Coast News, but he also has a right as a Carlsbad resident to express his point of view just the same as you do.

I would be more than happy to accept and review a commentary from you, if you’d care to submit one. You may send it to [email protected].


cathy June 14, 2015 at 1:08 pm

What happened to the comment I posted about the dangerous chemicals being sprayed on conventional strawberries? I’ve gotten blocked from Caruso’s Facebook page but I would HOPE a newspaper would allow me to have the freedom of speech! All this talk about “Farm to Table” dining options in the mall neglects to mention that Farm to Table cooking uses organic produce. Not the chemical laden stuff that’s being grown in the fields now. Will the hikers be exposed to chemical spraying? Why doesn’t anyone mention this?

richard wilson June 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm

This “news” paper has obviously been compromised. It’s amazing what money will buy.

Avram kaplan June 14, 2015 at 9:22 am

We look forward to this development
It is well thought out and will provide added retail and restaurants tha we do not have to drive to la jolla or the OC to get too therefore it keeps tax revenues , property and sales in our great town while preserving and making accessible the open space

richard wilson June 15, 2015 at 4:03 pm

I would like to know what your personal investment is in this property. I see you post all the time that you are so excited for it, but why? You can’t be burdened to drive to Del Mar for your “added retail and restaurants”? I 10 minute drive to a more congested area is too much to ask of you? Are you that lazy? Is having upscale places to spend your money more important to you than nature? I would argue that you do not embody the spirit of Carlsbad, and would be better suited to live in La Jolla. Why stay? Why not move down to La Jolla? I hate to be rude, but I just don’t think that you are considering the true impact of this construction, or worse, have considered the impact but simply don’t care.

Cathy June 13, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Thank goodness…I can leave a comment here! Anyone who comments negatively on Caruso’s Facebook page about the 85/15 is blocked and deleted. That’s what happened to me when I tried to raise the issue of the dangerous chemicals associated with conventional strawberry farming. Here’s one of many articles on the subject. Why does the developer act as though they are doing us all a favor by keeping the strawberries?

Evidently no one is allowed to raise questions like this at their meetings either. There is a Facebook page for people opposed to this project for those who are interested:

Shirley James June 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

I can’t wait for our new mall, it will be such a great addition to Carlsbad. I now have to drive to La Jolla or Mission Viejo to shop. We need the kind of stores that the 85/15 will bring in. I am in favor of the development and hope that it will be recieved by the majoirity of my neighbors. I have spent alot of time at the Grove and it is always very busy, with families and shoppers enjoying the many things it offers.

richard wilson June 15, 2015 at 3:56 pm

You do not exist Shirley James. Isn’t posting fraudulent comments unbecoming of a business, at best, and ethically corrupt at worst? Your company has no ethics, does not care about strawberry fields, and instead of a heart has a cash register.

Maria Leupold June 11, 2015 at 7:00 pm

The 15% mall is over 500,000 square feet of retail space. That’s almost double the size of the Premium Outlet Mall. Why are we conserving water and it’s okay to build more stores that we don’t need? Water is water and the new development is going to use water.
Are we abandoning the Westfield Mall that is going to cost $300 million to renovate? The Westfield mall can easily become a gathering place for Carlsbad residents. There is already a nice movie theater there, we don’t need another one.
Once this natural land by the lagoon gets paved, we can’t get it back. I personally don’t like to see the lagoon coastline obstructed by a two story Nordstrom store, parking garages, lights and storefront signs. I am urging Carlsbad residents not to “pave paradise.”

Marlaine Hubbard June 15, 2015 at 10:56 am

Westfield Mall even with it’s long overdue makeover is NOT the same experience that the 85/15 Plan will create. I worked over 10 years at the Forum which is a parking nightmare. The 85/15 Plan is a concise, upscale pedestrian development that links the lagoon and open spaces together for all generations to enjoy. I look forward to the day I can take grandkids and parents, ages 4-94 to one place to experience the best of Carlsbad via hiking, restaurants, agriculture, and shopping not currently available in North County!

Mandy Barre June 11, 2015 at 1:35 pm

This is physically an impossibility when you’re adding thousands and thousands of square feet of restaurants, shopping and bathrooms! “In this time of drought, the 85/15 Plan utilizes the latest technology and innovations. The plan’s area will consume less potable water than what has occurred from previous agricultural uses. The plan also mandates recycled water for landscaping irrigation and water saving best practices.”

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