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Group says city may have violated Brown Act
Quarry Creek approval at issue

By Ray Huard, May 6, 2013

CARLSBAD — An environmental group critical of the planned Quarry Creek condominium and apartment complex along state Route 78 has accused Carlsbad officials of violating state open meeting laws in approving the project.

In a formal letter sent Monday to Mayor Matt Hall and the City Council, Preserve Calavera said the council improperly held closed door discussions on the project without giving proper advance notice and didn’t disclose any actions that may have resulted from those discussions as required by the state law, commonly known as the Brown Act.

The group is demanding that the council explain its actions and take steps to remedy them.

But Hall said Monday that the discussions Preserve Calavera cited never happened.

“We never sat down and discussed anything about the project in closed session,” he said.

A lawyer for Preserve Calavera, Everett DeLano, wrote in the demand letter that council members in a March 26 public meeting commented that “discussions regarding threatened litigation concerning the project had occurred in closed session.”

DeLano said the city didn’t provide notice on the posted agenda for the March meeting that Quarry Creek would be discussed in closed session nor did officials report publicly on any action taken in closed session.

Hall said Preserve Calavera has misconstrued what happened.

He said that as he and other council members left a closed session and were heading toward a public council meeting, one of the council members — Hall said he didn’t remember who — asked about Planning Commission recommendations on the project.

“As my memory serves me correctly, we finished closed session, we were walking out of the room and one of my colleagues asked me about the Planning Commission and their recommendations and I believe (City Attorney) Celia (Brewer) said that we will have to conduct the business on the dais,” Hall said.

Brewer said Monday that she “vaguely” remembers the comments and backed up Hall’s account.

“It was just a procedural question,” Brewer said. “We never discussed Quarry Creek in closed session, it was not a discussed item, there was no decision making.”

Brewer said DeLano “is trying to put together some facts in a way that serves him.”

DeLano said if there was any discussion of the project in closed session without public notice, the council may have to reopen public hearings on the project and take a new vote on it.

At the very least, DeLano said the city must explain within 30 days how the council’s actions didn’t violate the Brown Act.

“They may have to revote it. I don’t know since I don’t know what happened in the closed session,” DeLano said. “I would expect what ends up happening is they need to go back and redo those discussions and revote on the project after that.

The project, which would have 656 apartments and condominiums on a 156-acre site that is a reclaimed rock quarry, was approved by the City Council April 2.

Preserve Calavara President Diane Nygaard said her goal is to reopen public review of the project to make it smaller and require the developer, McMillin Companies, to take additional steps to mitigate traffic and environmental problems the project would cause.

“Our goal is to end up with a project that works for this community,” Nygaard said.


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