targets Caruso plan.
Nonprofit files for injunction to stop citizens' initiative OK'd
by Carlsbad City Council
Phil Diehl, October 22, 2015
The nonprofit North County Advocates filed for an injunction
Wednesday seeking to stop Caruso Affiliated from building
a shopping, entertainment and open-space destination on
the shore of Carlsbad's Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
filed in the Vista Superior Court state
that Caruso's 85/15 Plan - a citizens' initiative approved
unanimously by the Carlsbad City Council in August -
is invalid because it is "illegally vague" and gives
the city no power over future activities on the
"It goes too far," said attorney Everett Delano, who
is representing an environmental group called North County
Advocates. "Our point is that it overreaches the bounds
of what you can do with an initiative."
Caruso Executive Vice President Matt Middlebrook said
Wednesday there is no basis to any of the group's assertions.
"This is one more step in their efforts to kill the 85/15
Plan," Middlebrook said.
The Caruso proposal would create an upscale shopping
and entertainment complex, surrounded by picturesque open
space, on a 203-acre property east of Interstate 5 at
Cannon Road. The plan calls for the construction of a
Nordstrom-anchored shopping center on 27 acres, or 15
percent of the property, and the preservation of about
176 acres, or 85 percent, which would be used for strawberry
farming and other agricultural uses, open space with public
access, and habitat preservation.
Delano's challenge also claims the initiative does not
provide the financing mechanisms to pay for the environmental
protection features outlined in the plan.
"There's no actual commitment to fund any of the things
they say they will do," Delano said.
The legal claim also states that the initiative is inconsistent
with Carlsbad's city charter and its growth management
plan, as well as Proposition E, which voters passed in
1986 to limit growth and keep public facilities such as
roads, parks and libraries on pace with development.
Representatives of Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated
have been in Carlsbad for more than three years working
on the proposal and meeting with neighbors, environmental
groups, business leaders and others to create a project
that would garner strong support. The company spent more
than $2.5 million in the first half of this year, much
of that on consulting and advertising, to gather the signatures
it needed to present the initiative to the City Council.
Supporters of the project include the Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Foundation, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and Jimmy
Ukegawa, whose family has been farming near the lagoon
Still, the proposal has encountered opposition. Delano
said the North County Advocates' challenge is separate
from an attempt by another nonprofit group, Citizens for
North County, to pass a referendum that would overturn
the council's approval of the initiative.
Citizens for North County submitted more than 9,000 signatures
in support of the referendum to the Carlsbad City Clerk's
office on Sept. 24. The San Diego County Registrar of
Voters has until Nov. 5 to verify that at least 6,523
of those signatures belong to registered voters in the
city. If that number is met, the Carlsbad City Council
must at its next meeting either overturn its approval
of the initiative or place the referendum on a public
County Advocates was formed in 2009 by a
group of mostly Carlsbad residents who organized
to oppose a 93-acre commercial complex proposed
at La Costa Avenue and Rancho Santa Fe Road,
Caruso Proposal would create upscale project