By Simon Angel
This is the primary question that all of us seek an answer to whether you are a life-long resident or a more recent transplant to Carlsbad.
The recent survey published by the City provides us with a general view of residents’ opinions. Of highest importance to residents was preserving natural open space. Next in importance was maintaining the city’s character as it grows. This was followed by managing growth. These 3 issues of greatest importance to Carlsbad residents should direct or at least guide the actions of the City Council moving forward, if it is to be responsive to its constituents. To ignore the opinions of residents on such matters is to invite discord and dissatisfaction. This has a tendency to polarize rather than attain consensus from opposing interests and views on these issues.
A case on point is the Village and Barrio Master Plan. This plan was an attempt to provide for land uses and building standards throughout the Village Districts and the Barrio Districts. In the last iteration of the Plan rolled out in January of 2018, after years in its preparation and various iterations it was not the best product. I spoke against this latest version. My opinion at the time was that standards for these 2 areas under one plan would be inappropriate. My reasoning was that the downtown village districts are commercial in nature whereas the Barrio districts and the village general district are residential in nature. For this reason, I proposed that there should be a bifurcation under the plan for the residential districts and the commercial districts. It is unwieldy to provide over-all standards for these distinct areas with different interests. In July of 2018 the City Council voted to approve the Village and Barrio Master Plan citing the time and effort that had been involved by staff and opinions by some of the public to just move it forward. I had argued that we should continue to work and alter this plan to achieve the best possible product with buy-in from the residents. I failed to convince the majority of the City Council. What has resulted is that the VBMP was submitted to the Coastal Commission for approval and certification. The Coastal Commission proposed 23 modifications before it would take the requested action. Additionally, the Coastal Commission pointed out that in its opinion the methodology used in its traffic study of certain street segments was flawed. Since then there are eight changes or amendments that have been proposed and are moving forward and more to come. Clearly, this was not the best product that we could have achieved. My point is that when we are deliberate and open to the ideas and comments from the public and residents, when we conduct public outreach before the design phase that incorporates these ideas and comments into the design phase we can end up with the buy-in and support of the public to achieve the best possible product.
If we hope to be successful on our path forward, we must make residents a part of the governmental processes that impact their daily lives. I believe that considering the opinions and ideas of residents regarding projects and developments at the earliest possible stage is an important element of our ability to succeed. The greater the public support and buy-in, the greater the chance of success.
Maintaining the character and charm that life-long residents already know and that newer residents have discovered will continue to draw residents and businesses alike to Carlsbad. How we manage this influx will determine our success or our failure.
Our open spaces are a big draw for tourists and new residents. Public parks add to the attraction of Carlsbad. Moving forward can we do more? Yes. We can take action to ensure that the Encina Power Plant, the strawberry fields and the Ponto areas be developed as public park areas for the benefit of all residents particularly since they are subject to Coastal Commission authority.
We must be open and deliberate in the governmental processes, without consideration to politics, personal or otherwise, because we are not representing ourselves but rather the residents. This requires us to have an appreciation for all the residents and the issues they face on a daily basis. It also requires us to address the matters of housing, transportation, homelessness, etc. While these issues go far beyond Carlsbad, it is important that we bear in mind that city representatives are just that, representatives of the residents of Carlsbad, not SANDAG, NCTD or the county or the state. Does this mean we do not cooperate with these entities? Not at all, we should do so at every opportunity however our elected representatives represent the residents of Carlsbad and that should guide our decisions.
After having experienced the political discord and turmoil of 2019 we must update the Municipal Code to avoid such situations in the future. Along with that, we should put forward a proposal and action to establish term limits for city representatives. Every person elected to public office enters into office with their own viewpoints, pre-dispositions and biases. Term limits provide a level of protection from these traits. Additionally, it provides for greater and diverse ideas and involvement by the public. I believe this is a benefit for all residents.
This is what I see as a reasonable and achievable path forward. Seeking a balance in all things between the revenue streams necessary to provide basic municipal services and maintaining and preserving the character and charm of this place we call home, Carlsbad.
Candidate for Carlsbad City Council District 1