The Coast News Group
Community Commentary Opinion

Troubled over falsehoods of Measure A

I am very troubled by the seemingly deliberate falsehoods that are being spread throughout Carlsbad, a place I cherish.

I have closely listened and read the assertions made by the opponents of Measure A, the Feb. 23 ballot question that will decide the fate of the property at the corner of Cannon Road and Interstate 5.

The opponents claim, over and over again, that they distrust the builder of the proposed project because he chose to follow the completely legal process of a citizens’ initiative instead of following the path through California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review to get the project approved.

They mistakenly claim that the CEQA process is responsible for shaping Carlsbad into the desirable place it has become, and that no one should be allowed to develop who doesn’t follow this process.

As I have suggested, that idea is patently untrue and I disagree vehemently. The CEQA process is not responsible for making Carlsbad what it is today.

In fact, today CEQA more often is a lawsuit-inspiring weapon against good land use planning because opponents use the courts for self-interested gain and ignore the will of the people or their elected officials.

Rather than credit CEQA, we should credit our City’s high, uncompromising standards and highly trained and trusted staff for turning Carlsbad into the wonderful place we all enjoy.

Our building standards are deliberately difficult to meet because we want to assure that our quality of life is maintained or enhanced by any new project that comes to Carlsbad. We have earned a reputation for being tough but fair: “If you will meet our standards, you can build here.”

Opponents of Measure A hold up LEGOLAND as an example of a project that should be avoided. I think their analogy is instructive, but I disagree with their conclusion because it is exactly the kind of project we want.

Twenty years ago Carlsbad residents had a big debate and voted on whether LEGOLAND should be allowed to come to Carlsbad. Then, like now, the opponents said that the project was too massive and that traffic would be unbearable and ruin of Carlsbad.

The vote was close, but Carlsbadians approved the project. Now two decades later, the vast majority of people feel that LEGOLAND is a great addition to the city and are glad the company settled here.

Like LEGOLAND, builder Rick Caruso’s plan meets or exceeds the city’s stiff standards as determined by our expert staff and independent consultants.

Plus the plan still will have to go through California Coastal Commission approval.

The city of Carlsbad’s protections for our quality of life are well in place and being well executed by our city’s imminently qualified professionals. I trust their evaluation and recommendation. I hope you will, too.

Let’s welcome this plan that offers our Carlsbad so much.

Please join me in voting “YES on Measure A” Feb. 23.

Mark Packard is a Carlsbad City Councilmember.


Brian McInerny February 24, 2016 at 11:57 am

As a proud member of the classless minority Mr Hansen refers to. I would say classlessness is in the eye of the beholder. Our minority is now a majority despite 11 million dollars spent by Caruso to stifle democracy. If you walk to the end of that tunnel you are peering out of you might be able to understand other points of view. You might even find some truth. Cheers and good luck.

Lowell February 22, 2016 at 11:41 am

Gee, what don’t people understand here? It’s NOT a Mall; it’s a “lagoon enhancement and augmentation”.
Note: Even Sheldon Cooper would get the sarcasm.

Don February 22, 2016 at 9:44 am

Packard conveniently ignores all the lies spouted by Caruso’s paid signature gatherers, not to mention the harassment inflicted on those of us who LEGALLY circulated the referendum to oppose this. As if that were not enough, he also ignores the false accusations made by Mayor Hall (and supported by Packard) that Westfield was behind the entire referendum from the start. We do not trust Caruso. We do not trust the Mayor and City Council. It’s just that simple. They have given us ample reasons NOT to trust them and nothing they can say or do at this point will restore the trust they squandered.

Brian McInerny February 22, 2016 at 8:23 am

Dr Packard when I teach children the meaning of the word hypocrite I use your above letter as an example. We distrust the builder and you because he used hired liars to obtain signatures from your constituency. Not because the law says it is O K. Try listening to people it is what good leaders do.

Don Burton February 21, 2016 at 9:05 pm

You are right on target. How about running yourself? We need some new blood at City Hall. Frankly, I’d vote for a skunk before I’d vote for any of these people, incumbent or not. The smell around City Hall would likely improve.

Ben February 21, 2016 at 11:01 am

I’m more troubled that an elected official would show such disdain for CEQA. Mr. Packard: like it or not, you are bound as an elected official to represent ALL of the citizens of Carlsbad, and the City itself. Your flippant remarks and willingness to toss CEQA and the General Plan to the dust bin make me worry about other decisions you make that are not so public.

Like it or not, Mr. Packard, CEQA is law and you are bound by your oath to represent the people of Carlsbad to uphold those the laws put in place by CEQA and the Genaral Plan.

I’m voting NO on A simply because the entire process reeks of back room deals and impropriety on behalf of the developer, his paid shills, and the City Counsel and Mayor.

Allen J. Manzano February 21, 2016 at 8:43 am

The truth is that Packard, a decent man from a political family, has a very poor record of fiscal probity. He supported the buying of an empty building for 15 million that stood empty for decades, he backed throwing more and more millions at a golf course that was sold to the citizens as a 8 million dollar bargain and ended up costing over 40 millions and needing millions every since to operate it. He has never shown any initiatives that focus on adding to the open space that these wasteful and useless expenditures could have purchased. The Buena Vista and Batiquitos Lagoon Foundations have all gained open space by purchase without any aid from the City even as the Aqua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation is taken over by its dependency on the City and now is a Mall supporter while the other Foundations condemn it, being true to their purpose to protect and enhance the natural environment. Packard does not speak to the fact that the Council has never sought to revisit the General plan in the interest of preserving more open space. He opposed the new power plant and wanted it moved inland, clearly a move to take over the land that would become available for more development if the power lines were eliminated. He supported a law suit to block that plant on the basis of how it would conflict with the expanding highway and now asserts that the highway problem is meaningless relative to the Caruso Mall. We have plenty of Big Malls clearly more than enough in a time when department stores are struggling to compete. Carlsbad is wealthy from tax revenues but its council is entrenched by the fact that the elections are at large and thus always favor incumbents who stay on and on and on and on etc. The City needs structural reform to reflect is growing size and diversity and you will never have any leadership that reflects this fact.

Brian McInerny February 20, 2016 at 9:33 pm

And Dr. Packard you have every reason to be troubled. Though you failed to mention them in your piece.

Wayne Cowie February 20, 2016 at 8:29 pm

Councilman Packard,

Your statement that “. . . builder Rick Caruso’s plan meets or exceeds the city’s stiff standards as determined by our expert staff and independent consultants.” is baffling to me. What plans were reviewed against the city’s “stiff” standards and when did this take place? Many of us have asked to see the plan details and have been told that there are no plans available at this time.

I had to question the city’s negotiating strategies after reading this give away statement contained in Measure A::

“Notwithstanding any provision of the Carlsbad Municipal Code and to ensure that development of the AH-SP area is subject to express, objective standards that cannot be changed through subsequent discretionary actions or interpretations, the AH-SP zone is a new zoning district that exists independent of other zoning requirements, including the balance of Title 21 of the Carlsbad Municipal Code. The property subject to the AH-SP zoning district is regulated by the Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan for 85% Open Space and 15% Retail (“AH-SP Specific Plan”) and shall not be subject to any provision of the Carlsbad Municipal Code that purports to regulate or guide land use development except those contained in this new chapter or as otherwise provided in the Specific Plan . . .”

Disappointed, to say the least, Councilman Packard.

Linda February 20, 2016 at 7:59 pm

I guess censorship is alive and well. My comment along with other No on A supporters have not been published. It now comes to my attention that Caruso Affiliated buys space from this paper. Surprise. It’s very clear to many of us that Dr Packard has no idea what he is talking about. How unprofessional to vote on something so critical without reading it. Last time I checked, Rick Caruso does not live in Carlsbad, yet he carries more weight than all of Carlsbad citizens combined.

Brian McInerny February 20, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Well I appreciate your position Dr Packard. I do not agree with your stated reason that the opponents offer as to why they are distrustful of Mr. Caruso. I am distrustful because I was approached at my home by a paid non-citizen who told me that whether I was for or against the project by signing I would get an opportunity to vote on the issue. This it turned out was a falsehood and a misdemeanor under the California elections code. I informed you and your council members in person of this violation. Then I listened as you stated publicly that you had not read the initiative. I can understand that at 397 pages it was lengthy. You have apparently studied the California Environmental Quality Act and determined on your own that it had no effect on shaping Carlsbad. I would have hoped you would have studied the Initiative with such fervor. However since you did not I have to assume that you have no idea of the number of precedents that are being set by giving a developer such complete control over a very volatile issue. Never before done in Carlsbad. Dr Packard I love Carlsbad and have lived here for 61 years. I am sorry to say you have failed to hear the voice of the people.

Michael R February 20, 2016 at 4:35 pm

I am also troubled by the falsehoods of measure A.
The false claim of the original initiative that this was about strawberries.
The false claim that the original initiative would lead to a vote.
The false claim that the volunteer citizen petition to have an election was pushed by “outside interests.”

We have been asked to trust the developer who has, in my opinion, worked to deceive and obfuscate, in order to do what might be legally allowable, but still not right for Carlsbad.
I will say no to those falsehoods.

No on A

MR February 20, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I too am troubled over the falsehoods of measure A. The false claim of the original initiative that it was about strawberries. The false claim of the original initiative that it would be to have a vote. The false claim that the citizen volunteer petition to force a vote was backed by “outside interests.” The continually changing numbers about how traffic will improve, that to me, look like false claims, since they don’t factor I-5 or Coast Highway traffic. The calls to trust the developer over the CEQA also seems to me to be a false claim, as the developer has, so far, worked to deceive or obfuscate, not earn our trust. So I agree with the headline, No on A, no to the falsehoods.

John February 20, 2016 at 4:21 pm

I too am troubled by the falsehoods (and deceptions) surrounding the Measure A campaign. Here are some of my concerns.

1) “At no cost to taxpayers” – Why then the rushed special election at an ADDITIONAL COST of $500K? Why not wait until the June or November elections? This extra cost of this special election IS being paid by the taxpayers of Carlsbad.

2) None of the TV ads we are being bombarded with mention the construction of a 585,000 sq ft mall. Is that because it would sound silly to boast about preserving the lagoon’s open space by building yet another mall in Carlsbad? If this is such a “gift” for the citizens of Carlsbad, why is the developer spending >$8M to try to convince people that this project is so great? The developer has no ties to the community and is only here to make money. Is this not obvious?

3) Carlsbad has had a good planning process, with an established review procedure that includes citizen input. Measure A changes the zoning and general plan and gives the developer complete control of the plan for 15 years. Future city councils would be unable to change or overturn the plan until after 15 years. Why change our current process now? This sounds like a “gift” to the developer.

This measure has been very divisive to our community and it is apparent that city government does not want to acknowledge any of the concerns of the opposition. I would encourage Carlsbad citizens to vote no on February 23rd such that any future project on this precious lagoon property be done in a way that is consistent with our established planning process – through the front door, rather than exploiting a loophole in the law.

Wayne Cowie February 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Councilman Packard,

With all due respect, I’m unsure to whom your first sentence is directed at. I’m assuming that it is directed at the Carlsbad citizens against passing Measure A, the “NO on A” side. What specific falsehoods need to be exposed? Realizing that we are only voting on the contents of the 397 page document, as long as the discussion stays with the specific chapter and verse of the measure, perceived falsehoods should not emerge to cloud the issue. I would appreciate a listing of the falsehoods you are referring to.

Your statement “. . . builder Rick Caruso’s plan meets or exceeds the city’s stiff standards as determined by our expert staff and independent consultants.” is baffling. What plans were evaluated and when? I, and many others, have asked to see the specific plans related to the project design, grading, building elevations, etc. and have been told that none exist at this time. What plans were reviewed to back up your statement. Also, reading through the Measure A, there are approximately sixty instances where the AH-SP exempts itself from the “stiff” city standards. It also states that if there is a conflict between the city requirements and the specifications called out in the AH-SP, the AH-SP shall prevail.

After studying the full document, it is my opinion that passing Measure A allows an outside influence to have created, with the full blessing and support of the Mayor and City Council, an autonomous district within the city that changes accepted zoning definitions, exempts itself from our standards, and minimizes our input for fifteen years. Up to this point, that hasn’t been the Carlsbad way. Vote No on A!

Vickey Syage February 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Mr. Packard,
It completely baffles me that you would support legislation that uses the word “exempt” 60 times, that you publicly admitted you have not read. So, let me help you – Measure A exempts itself 60 times from our current code, laws, and zoning requirements in the 397 page initiative. And the word “amend” shows up 268 times. What it doesn’t contain, not once, is “tram”, “donate”, “land trust”, and many other things that have been verbally promised. Not once. If this project is as wonderful as you and the rest of the developer’s supporters say it is, there is no harm in voting No. The developer may come back and propose this development and go through all the standard policies and procedures that every single other development in Carlsbad has gone through. And if he won’t do that, then all is not as it seems. The only right answer for Carlsbad is a No vote. As citizens, there is no downside to a No vote. So please, Carlsbad. Vote No on A on Tuesday, February 23rd and #SaveCarlsbad

Linda February 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Amazing how you spin this issue as being about CEQA, when in fact that has nothing to do with voting on Measure A, which you couldn’t be bothered to read prior to championing it. Would you practice medicine without the prerequisite reading? I would hope not. Reading and understanding Measure A is your duty as an elected city council person. You do all of Carlsbad a disservice by not performing your duties. Stop trying to discredit everyone against measure A. You have no credibility since you didn’t read it and obviously don’t understand just what you are willing to give away if this passes.

Julie February 20, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Dr Packard, thank you for all the hard work you have given the city of Carlsbad as an elected official. I do believe you have represented the interests of our community. Back in August there were more people in attendance that were in favor of the Caruso Project. Funny how when people don’t get their way they accuse others of not listening. Keep of the good work by doing what’s best of Carlsbad

Conni February 20, 2016 at 12:09 pm

“In fact, today CEQA more often is a lawsuit-inspiring weapon against good land use planning because opponents use the courts for self-interested gain and ignore the will of the people or their elected officials.” Mark Packard

This is a very interesting point you make, Mr. Packard. Is this how you felt about it when you and your fellow city council members decided to sue the Carlsbad School District over CEQA issues and the new Sage Creek High School? You cost the children of Carlsbad $3 Million dollars to fight against this weapon you mention. Money that could have gone to bringing arts, music, PE, science tools and other programs to the very citizens you proclaim to love so much.

Will you please tell me which “self-interested gain” you were trying to achieve when you sued the district so that we will all know? Thank you.

Tom February 20, 2016 at 10:54 am

While LegoLand draws approximately 2 million visitors a year, the developer of this mall/entertainment complex on the lagoon is wanting to bring over 12 MILLION people over Cannon Road and I-5. That’s too much, it threatens the very character that brings people to Carlsbad today.

Add to that the developer bypassing CEQA under the guise of ‘save the strawberry fields’ (which the plan actually relocates and paves over), add to that the plan locks FUTURE city councils and planning commissions out of oversight for 15 years and REQUIRES city staff to approve changes, Measure A is just bad planning all around.

Elizabeth February 20, 2016 at 10:43 am

Councilman Packard- Support a concept mall on the lagoon?
Yes, it is a concept- 397 pgs and no plans , architectural drawings, grading specs, no Environmental Impact Report. The pretty watercolor renderings are not in the initiative. Also, the initiative does not go through the California Environmental Quality Agency, which makes the fact that it does not have an EIR even more hazardous on a sensitive natural wetland, one of California’s last.
As if this isn’t scary enough the developer’s initiative exempts the project numerous times from public, municipal & environmental
oversight for 15 years!
Councilman Packard stated in a city council meeting that he did not read the developer’s initiative. It has been months since that public statement. From his words in this article it would seem he still hasn’t read it.
Vote No On A
It sets a bad development building precedent and it is bringing bad press about Carlsbad in the community

Greg February 20, 2016 at 10:34 am

I Wish just one Carlsbad city leader would say all citizens of Carlsbad matter. Not just the mall lovers.

Even if the leaders want measure A to pass, you should still stand up for those opposed. Not one of you have. And that’s not the Carlsbad way.

Blessings on your journey, Dr. Packard.

Mike February 20, 2016 at 10:27 am

I agree with one of the other comments. You voted for this initiative without actually reading it. You admitted that in the city council meeting. As for me, I read it and the 9212 document. Therefore sir, you have no basis or credibility to comment.

You and your city councilman have abandoned many of those you were elected to represent, have numerous conflicts on interests on this (if you were in the corporate world you would have been fired long ago for the conflict of interests alone).

These are not empty words but fact based comments. For example, the pre-prepared PowerPoint slide at the end of the August council meeting where you voted 5-0 for measure A (again a measure you have admitted not to have read), clearly showed contempt for the citizens of Carlsbad who sat outside the chamber (somehow all the Yes people miraculously had all the seats on the inside) and showed that their comments were dismissed before the meeting had even started. The timing of the recent retro-active 11% pay raise to the police who your council had ignored in prior years – having only given2-3% and never retroactively, coming just TWO weeks after their associations endorsement (their union/political action committee) shows the level of conflict of interests. Incidentally neither the firefighters association not the police union members voted on that endorsement just their leadership. Sounds like the same playbook as the City council back in August with respect to the unwillingness to listen to the constituents doesn’t it.

Lastly, your City council used the argument that it was your role and responsibility to vote on this and avoid the expense of an election (said in the August council meeting). Then why did you then vote later to hold a special election at the cost of over $600k to the taxpayers money rather than put on the November ballot at little incremental cost to the Carlsbad tax payer. Why? Because special elections in these circumstances typically favor the developer. By doing that you have divided the very community you are elected to represent.

And for those reasons what you write here has no credibility as you sir, have none.

Tanya Brooking February 20, 2016 at 10:09 am

Mr Packard,
You admitted yourself, in public, that you had not even read Caruso’s plan before you voted Yes on it. Sorry, but your credibility is shot. You’re simply just another Caruso acolyte. One can’t help but wonder who actually wrote this editorial on your behalf. Your days on city council are numbered. That’s what happens when you opt to shill for special interests rather than listening to the citizens who elected you.

Steven February 19, 2016 at 11:38 pm

Are there any statistics to back up your assertion that “. . . the vast majority of people feel that LEGOLAND is a great addition to the city and are glad the company settled here.” Are these “people” residents of Carlsbad or non-residents? What environmental protections are going to be put in place to prevent wastewater and other refuse from entering the lagoon?

Rob February 19, 2016 at 11:06 pm

Packard, anyone who has read the measure would know you are either lying, stupid or have not actually read the measure yourself. It’s a shame, so quickly, incompetent governance by you and your cohorts can turn neighbor against neighbor in what used to be a very friendly community; you should be ashamed of yourself. The unfortunate part is that you not only want to build on EVERYONES lagoon another mall – our 3rd or 4th considering the new one top of La Costa- you desire to remove all oversight. I’ve been to coruso’s other shopping centers- have you? Nearly all are basic shopping behomoths with no character. You are removing any oversight with measure A. We may end up with another Lowes type disaster with Orange County sight lines- or maybe that new plane hanger with the Audi logo across from the discount mall- and those are with your crew having oversight! Just imagine when coruso has free reign. Oh, but you trust him, well I don’t. You should jump back on the turnip truck from which you fell, move to LA, and allow the part of the community who hasn’t been duped or paid off ensure the development follows proper guidelines. Or, maybe put some of the city funds together to purchase and preserve the lagoon.

Dave February 19, 2016 at 6:58 pm

What troubles many Carlsbad residents is how YOU did NOT listen to any of us back in August. In fact, YOU were quite dismissive, dare I say, rude. And supporting people who use bullying tactics including assault speaks volumes as to YOUR lack of character. The deliberate lies go all the way back to the beginning of this bogus initiative process, spread by paid signature gatherers under the direct control of Caruso.

Jason Hansen February 19, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Dr. Packard-

As a resident, I have trust and appreciation for the city council as a whole. In addition, I thank all of the city staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make this city what it is.

Keep up the great work, and as hard as it might be, for myself included, please comtinue look the other way from the classless minority who have been screaming quite loudly of late.


Brian McInerny February 24, 2016 at 11:51 am

As a member of the classless minority that

Don February 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Mr. Packard,
Did you ever read the original initiative as we did? Do you actually understand what is contained in this cleverly constructed document, crafted by a team of lawyers hired by Caruso? I doubt it. When Reagan said “Trust but verify” he meant extend the offer of trust, but make sure it is earned. You and the rest of the City Council have lost the trust of the majority of the citizens of Carlsbad. You will discover that when the results come out on February 23rd.

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