More than 150 people turned out Wednesday for a special City of Carlsbad Planning Commission meeting about the future of the Village and Barrio, two areas considered by many to be the historic heart of the city.
The City of Carlsbad began work in 2014 on a plan to establish a vision for future development and land uses in the Village and Barrio. The “master plan” will replace the Carlsbad Village Master Plan and Design Manual, which was adopted in 1996 and has been revised periodically since, most recently in 2014.
Following a number of public meetings and online input, the city released the first draft of the plan in November 2015. The plan was then revised based on additional input. Thursday’s meeting provided an opportunity to comment on the latest draft, released in April 2016.
More than 50 speakers provided feedback at the meeting. Many said they’d lived in the area for decades; some owned businesses there and some were new to Carlsbad.
Some long-term residents urged the city to get going on improvements in the draft plan, which they have been looking forward to, especially safety, lighting and sidewalks. Others raised concerns about maintaining community character, undergrounding utilities and being able to access the beach across the train tracks. Speakers also commented on parking, building heights and density, pedestrian and bicyclist safety and slowing down cars in the Barrio.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that some parts of the draft plan, whether it’s the language used to describe Carlsbad or visual simulations, caused an immediate negative response for some people,” said Scott Donnell, a city planner who is overseeing the plan’s development. “Changing those things is fairly easy. The more challenging part of this is finding the right balance of land uses, standards and design guidelines that represent our community’s needs and values.”
“Last night’s meeting also provided us the opportunity to share that some requested improvements like pedestrian lighting, sidewalk upgrades and enhanced traffic safety are getting underway or are included in the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year that began July 1,” said Donnell.
The purpose of the July 13 meeting was to get community input, so the Planning Commission took no action. The Planning Commission will hold one additional public meeting in August or September to review all the input received to date. An updated draft will then be prepared by city staff once the results of a parking study are available in early 2017.
The approval process includes a presentation to the Planning Commission, which will then make a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council will then vote on the final plan.
Copies of the draft plan are available at the city’s libraries, Faraday Center, Senior Center and City Clerk’s Office and online at www.carlsbadca.gov/villagebarrio. Those unable to attend the July 13 meeting are encouraged to review the draft plan at www.carlsbadca.gov/villagebarrio and provide comments directly to city staff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.