After months of heated debate between open space advocates and affordable housing supporters, the Carlsbad City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved all 656 units proposed for development on the former rock quarry site located on the border of Carlsbad and Oceanside.
Earlier in March, the Carlsbad Planning Commission recommended approval of the plan proposed by developer The Corky McMillin Companies but suggested the project be limited to 600 homes and avoid development of the undeveloped portion of the land known as the panhandle. During the City Council’s March 26 meeting, many community members also campaigned for a downscaled project, expressing concerns about the development’s impact on the site’s open space, historical significance, density and traffic. The developer insisted that 656 homes were necessary to make the project viable.
The City Council voted for all 656 units but agreed to prohibit construction on the westernmost end of the 156-acre site south of state Route 78 and west of College Boulevard. Council members said the project will help the city meet affordable housing requirements, and roughly two-thirds of the site will be left as open space.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Matt Hall recalled how Carlsbad created “rigorous standards” for developers in the 1990s, and said the Quarry Creek project “meets or exceeds all of those standards.”
Councilman Mark Packard agreed and said city staff has applied the same standards to all projects.
“When our staff has stated that a development meets all the standards … then that should tell all of us that if it were built the way that it’s proposed, it would turn out being a desirable and as good of a neighborhood and community as we have in all of our other parts of the city because they are applying the same, consistent standards,” Packard said.
Councilwoman Farrah Douglas said she lived in an Oceanside home off of College Boulevard and near Quarry Creek for 23 years before moving to Carlsbad.
“For 23 years, I watched the rock mining there. The pollution, the noise, the visual blight,” Douglas said. “Every once in a while, I would pray that the quarry would go away – that something better would come because it devalued our homes.”
Douglas continued that she believes the project “is a good project because it preserves El Salto Falls.”
“It won’t be wilderness, but it will be kept,” she said. “It’s going to have natural greenery around it. It’s going to be beautiful.”
In other council business:
- The City Council approved an ordinance that will require stops on Las Flores Drive at its intersection with Pio Pico Drive.
- Council members approved an amendment to the city’s regulations on construction hours.
- Council members also approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance, thus accepting and administering the Coastal Commission’s suggested modificationto the city’s Local Coastal Program.
- The City Council held a public hearing on the housing and community development needs of lower income households within Carlsbad. Council members accepted public comments on the various proposals that have been submitted for funding under the city’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership Program.
- The City Council gave presentations of proclamations in recognition of National Library Week, Arbor Week, National Volunteer Recognition Week and Celebrate Carlsbad Day at Legoland.