From 1988 to1989, 15 members of a “Citizens’ Committee for Review of Carlsbad’s Open Space Plan and Programs” took a leadership role in preserving an additional 15 percent open space set aside in the Growth Management Plan. Although they diverged on some issues, no-growth, slow-growth and pro-growth advocates all agreed the city needed to do a better job of handling open space. The City Council asked the committee to prioritize the additional 15 percent of open space acreage; recommending how best to utilize it and lock it in for future generations to enjoy.
- The committee meticulously reviewed the city’s 25 development zones, mapping out open space priorities within each.
- Creatures of both human and “critter” varieties received attention.
- Wanting the plan to equal or exceed the best open space/environmental programs in existence, the committee and city staff researched programs in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and other cities known for their natural beauty.
- One far-reaching committee focus was on wildlife and habitat preservation — this was a decade before that issue would receive wide attention at the regional level. By the time San Diego County began conceptualizing a countywide habitat management program in the 1990s, the City of Carlsbad already begun its efforts.
- Another leading-edge committee creation was the initiation of a trail plan, which continues at an energetic pace today.
The recommendations were enthusiastically received by the City Council and became part of the Open Space Amendment to the General Plan approved in 1994. The plan mandated that once a land portion is designated as open space, that designation cannot be removed (or the land used for other purposes) unless all of the following provisions are met:
- An equal or greater area is substituted.
- The proposed substitution is of equal or greater environmental quality.
- The proposed open space adjustment is contiguous or within close proximity to the original area within that development zone.