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Carlsbad on road to Manhattan Beach

"We don’t need more luxury apartments"

State Mixed Use 30 development – 27 condos plus first-floor commercial use – 33 parking spaces
State Mixed Use 30 development – 27 condos plus first-floor commercial use – 33 parking spaces

“It used to be the Village by the Sea. But it’s not a village anymore when you can build buildings that are four stories tall…really five when you count the top deck.”

DeeDee Trejo was born and raised in Carlsbad. She operates Lola’s Seven-Up Market on Roosevelt Street. It was founded by her family in Carlsbad’s first neighborhood, the so-called Barrio, a historic residential area between I-5 and the Carlsbad Boulevard/101 just south of Carlsbad Village Drive. Lola’s opened in 1943, nine years before Carlsbad became a city.

House in Barrio. "I can't have people over because they can’t find a spot to park.”

Trejo’s family lives near the market. “I can’t even have a BBQ at my house and have people over because they can’t find a spot to park.”

The Carlsbad city council last week made some changes to its Village and Barrio Master Plan approved last year. But unchanged is the fact that four-story buildings (45 feet maximum) can still be built in the downtown Village business district. Village parking regularly overflows into the adjacent Barrio district.

Consider the under-construction State Mixed Use 30 development, a four-story mixed-use project on the corner of State and Oak streets. It sits on the border of the Village and Barrio districts. The first floor is designated commercial while the second, third and fourth floors will be 27 condos (14 for sale, 13 time shares). The project is being built with 33 on-site spaces dedicated to the residents. Any overflow residential parking and all the commercial parking will have to find parking space in the already overwhelmed streets of the Village and Barrio districts.

"Buddy Lewis would have never allowed there be buildings higher than two stories.”

How was this development allowed to happen? Carlsbad senior planner Scott Donnell says the city planning commission signed off on it after the developer agreed to pay for 20 “in lieu parking fees.” This means that instead of providing adequate parking as mandated by law, the city allowed the developer to pay approximately $11,000 for each space into a city fund. That pot of cash is to be used by the city to acquire property for parking and/or build a parking structure.

Donnell says at present he is not aware of any plans for Carlsbad to buy property or build a parking structure.

Lifelong Carlsbad local Simon Angel remembers when streets in Barrio Carlos weren’t paved. He says the house he lives in, once purchased for $6,000, could get $700,000 now.

Simon Angel says it got so bad that the city painted over some red curbs.

Angel is a mild-mannered retiree who has never run for public office but is stepping up to run for a special election to replace councilwoman Barbara Hamilton who resigned after only one year in office. She represented District 1 which includes the Village and Barrio.

“There is no parking and it keeps getting worse,” says Angel. “It gets impossible around here when we have 5K runs or the Village Fair.” He says it got so bad that the city painted over some red curbs in a desperate move to allow more parking on street corners. “That decreased the line of sight which made it unsafe for pedestrians and drivers alike who tried to cross the street.”

He says the Village/Barrio parking menagerie helped encourage him to run. “When he was mayor, Buddy Lewis would have never allowed there be buildings higher than two-stories,” says Angel of the late mayor. “It would have been ‘over my dead body.’…We don’t want a complete moratorium on building. We just don’t want to see Carlsbad turning into Manhattan or Redondo Beach. We don’t need more luxury apartments that are not affordable to the average Carlsbad resident.”

He says the encroaching upscale Village business district is choking the life out of his neighborhood. “The Barrio is shrinking,” says Angel. “I know many people in the Barrio who are property rich but cash poor.”

Angel says there is an increasing divide between the “elitism” of the new Carlsbad and the down-to-earth approach taken by his Barrio neighbors. “To slow down traffic on Roosevelt and Madison [Streets] they are talking about traffic circles. Many of us are just say ‘how about you give us four-way stop signs and speed bumps.’”

Angel says he knows his underfunded city council campaign makes him the decided underdog against his two challengers who have both run citywide elections. But the fact that Carlsbad is now divided into four districts could help. “We have never had a Mexican from the Barrio elected to anything in Carlsbad.”

There are about 1,000 voters in the Barrio which is about six per cent of the total 16,500 voters in Carlsbad’s District 1.

“I can’t overestimate my chances,” says Angel. But he says he can count on help from the same street team that helped Hamilton get elected last year. “My Barrio precinct would always vote in the 30 percent range. Then last year, for the first time ever, we got it up to 67 percent.”

Council member Cori Schumacher is also running for the District 1 seat (her current city-wide seat is being phased out next year due to the arrival of districting). She says she has voted in the minority against Carlsbad’s in lieu parking arrangement which favors developers. “The city [staff] says we have plenty of parking and yet we know we don’t,” says Schumacher. She adds that she wants to make sure the amount of the in-lieu fee parking fees gets increased, and that that fund collected by the city actually gets spent on a specific parking facility.

She says the four-story State Mixed Use 30 project was approved at the planning commission level, but never made it to council. “The planning commission completely kept us out of the loop. That’s why I just voted last week to change it so that anything like this must also come before the council going forward.”

Schumacher agrees with Simon about Barrio misrepresentation. “The Barrio has been invisible with past councils.”

Angel sees one of the biggest challenges for Carlsbad is that the city council won’t stand up to its own city staff. “If the council tells them to do something they don’t want to do, they can come up with a million reasons not to do it. Sometimes the staff hears what it wants to hear.”

Tracy Carmichael, also running for the District 1 seat, did not respond to a request for comment.

Angel points out Carlsbad’s District 1 has not been represented on the council since Hamilton resigned in October and will not have a representative on the city council until April.

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State Mixed Use 30 development – 27 condos plus first-floor commercial use – 33 parking spaces
State Mixed Use 30 development – 27 condos plus first-floor commercial use – 33 parking spaces

“It used to be the Village by the Sea. But it’s not a village anymore when you can build buildings that are four stories tall…really five when you count the top deck.”

DeeDee Trejo was born and raised in Carlsbad. She operates Lola’s Seven-Up Market on Roosevelt Street. It was founded by her family in Carlsbad’s first neighborhood, the so-called Barrio, a historic residential area between I-5 and the Carlsbad Boulevard/101 just south of Carlsbad Village Drive. Lola’s opened in 1943, nine years before Carlsbad became a city.

House in Barrio. "I can't have people over because they can’t find a spot to park.”

Trejo’s family lives near the market. “I can’t even have a BBQ at my house and have people over because they can’t find a spot to park.”

The Carlsbad city council last week made some changes to its Village and Barrio Master Plan approved last year. But unchanged is the fact that four-story buildings (45 feet maximum) can still be built in the downtown Village business district. Village parking regularly overflows into the adjacent Barrio district.

Consider the under-construction State Mixed Use 30 development, a four-story mixed-use project on the corner of State and Oak streets. It sits on the border of the Village and Barrio districts. The first floor is designated commercial while the second, third and fourth floors will be 27 condos (14 for sale, 13 time shares). The project is being built with 33 on-site spaces dedicated to the residents. Any overflow residential parking and all the commercial parking will have to find parking space in the already overwhelmed streets of the Village and Barrio districts.

"Buddy Lewis would have never allowed there be buildings higher than two stories.”

How was this development allowed to happen? Carlsbad senior planner Scott Donnell says the city planning commission signed off on it after the developer agreed to pay for 20 “in lieu parking fees.” This means that instead of providing adequate parking as mandated by law, the city allowed the developer to pay approximately $11,000 for each space into a city fund. That pot of cash is to be used by the city to acquire property for parking and/or build a parking structure.

Donnell says at present he is not aware of any plans for Carlsbad to buy property or build a parking structure.

Lifelong Carlsbad local Simon Angel remembers when streets in Barrio Carlos weren’t paved. He says the house he lives in, once purchased for $6,000, could get $700,000 now.

Simon Angel says it got so bad that the city painted over some red curbs.

Angel is a mild-mannered retiree who has never run for public office but is stepping up to run for a special election to replace councilwoman Barbara Hamilton who resigned after only one year in office. She represented District 1 which includes the Village and Barrio.

“There is no parking and it keeps getting worse,” says Angel. “It gets impossible around here when we have 5K runs or the Village Fair.” He says it got so bad that the city painted over some red curbs in a desperate move to allow more parking on street corners. “That decreased the line of sight which made it unsafe for pedestrians and drivers alike who tried to cross the street.”

He says the Village/Barrio parking menagerie helped encourage him to run. “When he was mayor, Buddy Lewis would have never allowed there be buildings higher than two-stories,” says Angel of the late mayor. “It would have been ‘over my dead body.’…We don’t want a complete moratorium on building. We just don’t want to see Carlsbad turning into Manhattan or Redondo Beach. We don’t need more luxury apartments that are not affordable to the average Carlsbad resident.”

He says the encroaching upscale Village business district is choking the life out of his neighborhood. “The Barrio is shrinking,” says Angel. “I know many people in the Barrio who are property rich but cash poor.”

Angel says there is an increasing divide between the “elitism” of the new Carlsbad and the down-to-earth approach taken by his Barrio neighbors. “To slow down traffic on Roosevelt and Madison [Streets] they are talking about traffic circles. Many of us are just say ‘how about you give us four-way stop signs and speed bumps.’”

Angel says he knows his underfunded city council campaign makes him the decided underdog against his two challengers who have both run citywide elections. But the fact that Carlsbad is now divided into four districts could help. “We have never had a Mexican from the Barrio elected to anything in Carlsbad.”

There are about 1,000 voters in the Barrio which is about six per cent of the total 16,500 voters in Carlsbad’s District 1.

“I can’t overestimate my chances,” says Angel. But he says he can count on help from the same street team that helped Hamilton get elected last year. “My Barrio precinct would always vote in the 30 percent range. Then last year, for the first time ever, we got it up to 67 percent.”

Council member Cori Schumacher is also running for the District 1 seat (her current city-wide seat is being phased out next year due to the arrival of districting). She says she has voted in the minority against Carlsbad’s in lieu parking arrangement which favors developers. “The city [staff] says we have plenty of parking and yet we know we don’t,” says Schumacher. She adds that she wants to make sure the amount of the in-lieu fee parking fees gets increased, and that that fund collected by the city actually gets spent on a specific parking facility.

She says the four-story State Mixed Use 30 project was approved at the planning commission level, but never made it to council. “The planning commission completely kept us out of the loop. That’s why I just voted last week to change it so that anything like this must also come before the council going forward.”

Schumacher agrees with Simon about Barrio misrepresentation. “The Barrio has been invisible with past councils.”

Angel sees one of the biggest challenges for Carlsbad is that the city council won’t stand up to its own city staff. “If the council tells them to do something they don’t want to do, they can come up with a million reasons not to do it. Sometimes the staff hears what it wants to hear.”

Tracy Carmichael, also running for the District 1 seat, did not respond to a request for comment.

Angel points out Carlsbad’s District 1 has not been represented on the council since Hamilton resigned in October and will not have a representative on the city council until April.

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Comments
14
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
Dec. 18, 2019

It is interesting that we keep hearing about the "Housing crisis" as a reason to allow more residential development. The real crisis is that people are living on the streets. We have a n affordable housing crisis that is being completely avoided by municipalities allowing more market price development instead of requiring development to build only affordable until the shortage is erased. It will take strong leadership to reverse Carlsbad's reputation for pandering to developers of large expensive projects while squeezing the little guy with fees for small projects. Parking in lieu is equivalent to taking a bribe to allow higher density without parking. Unfortunately the current laws favor this approach and cities are fearful of lawsuits by developers who are denied their "Property rights". Bottom line is Carlsbad sold out after Mayor Lewis left office.

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Dec. 18, 2019

There is a high demand and low inventory of housing especially affordable rental housing. The problem that is not being addressed is the need for "affordable jobs". San Diego employers have long depended on immigrant labor and cross border workers to keep their cost of labor down. What we need is a poverty tax on employers who do not pay a living wage and provide comprehensive health care and pension benefits. The low wage employers rely on taxpayer provided welfare benefits to make up for the low wages and low/no benefits. Low wage/benefit employers are investing in future poverty.

Dec. 18, 2019

There is no such thing as "affordable housing" in CA. If you choose to live in CA, you're going to pay a lot in housing. If you can't afford the cost of living here, you need to find a more affordable place to live. As far as "affordable jobs" not all jobs deserve a living wage. Telemarketing, fast food, retail, etc. are low wage positions, and if you choose a low wage job, expect to paid low wages. If you want a living wage job, go to college and earn a undergrad and graduate degree, or find skilled blue collar work. But don't expect employers to pay you more because you lack the necessary job skills to earn a decent living, and you're living in poverty. Whose fault is that? The truth hurts.

Dec. 18, 2019

So doesn't the city have an obligation to provide housing for all income levels within their community? That's how you prevent gentrification. Otherwise your waiter and waitress, your maid and your landscaper will have to commute from Temcula to work in Oceanside.

Dec. 29, 2019

hey genius with the grinch-sized heart, do you expect San Diego to have people who work preparing your food, stocking your shelves, creaming your latte, cleaning up the bathrooms and collecting your garbage? where do you expect all these minimum wage earners to live?

yeah, yeah, yeah, they should all go back to trade school and get better paying jobs but then who's going to prepare your food, stock your shelves, cream in your latte, clean your bathroom and collect your garbage?

Jan. 3, 2020

Socks3742 asks "Who's fault is that?" If someone is born into a poor family, especially one of color, their chances of getting into college is almost zero. How does one get the skills for a skilled blue collar job when nepotism and favoritism predominates when apprenticeships are awarded? Yes, the truth hurts.

But this is just deflection of the root of the problem. Let's walk it back. Why is housing expensive? Adam Smith tells us it's supply and demand. Why is there so little supply and so much demand? The resources of the Earth are finite and the human population keeps growing. We cannot create more resources. ... ?

Dec. 18, 2019

Someone in a poor family, whether they're of color or not can get a STUDENT LOAN. They can also qualify for grants, etc. that not everyone qualifies for. It's grades and test scores that get you into college, not income.

There is nothing wrong with being poor. That wasn't my point. My point was don't expect employers to pay you a living wage ($75K or more) in CA for work that qualifies for minimum wage.

How does one get the skills for a skilled blue collar job? Go to trade school, where skills are taught. The same way those of us who went to college learned the necessary skills for a well-paying white collar job.

You EARN your way through life. Quit making excuses.

Dec. 18, 2019

You ignore my point of finite and diminishing supply with exponentially growing demand.

My solution, and yes, it will take generations, is to educate women and to teach men to "say something quickly and suddenly" responsibly. (Note, the words in quote are the alternate dated definition.) Anything less is just a band-aid.

Your Horatio Alger solution is the one on which our society has operated for many years. As we all can see, though, that solution is dysfunctional.

I'm at a loss for what to do until my solution takes effect and you solution is not working. Any better ideas?

Dec. 18, 2019

The reason why housing is so expensive at the coast is because of real estate speculation. If you want more affordable housing, then stop the practice of giving developers the option to pay in-lieu fees instead of building the affordable housing.

Dec. 29, 2019

Council member Cori Schumacher responded via email December 18, the day after this article appeared: “After speaking with our staff I have to correct something I said in the article. The project on State and Oak was approved by the Planning Commission (November 2014) and the City Council (January 2015). This was before I was elected to Council."

Dec. 18, 2019

It is hard for me to imagine that I could ever feel nostalgic about Mayor-for-Life Big Bad Bud Lewis, but I do. He was a master of keeping the Carlsbad voters reelecting him, walking a fine line between opposed factions. At the time, there was still undeveloped land in the city, and it wasn't impossible to satisfy everyone, more or less. But now that land is gone, and the pressure is ratcheting up. If he were still running the city, the development near Quarry Falls would not look like it does, densely packed and generally unattractive.

When he was in charge, nobody seemed to know the name of the city manager. If anyone wanted to know what was going on in Carlsbad, they asked him, and he told them exactly what the story was. If you resided in an adjoining city, Carlsbad was the "Carls-bad-neighbor" to all of them. And it was Kim-il Bud who played the bad guy to Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Encinitas, while keeping his vote base happy. Seeing him gone was a relief to the neighbors, but now city government can't say no to development. Other cities, especially Vista, looked at Carlsbad Village enviously, wishing they could have something as vibrant, quaint, and inviting as that. Putting four-story buildings in the village will soon render the area something that the locals won't recognize, and the city will be just another suburb of San Diego.

Dec. 20, 2019

Well Said.

Dec. 21, 2019

Barrio Carlsbad, historical gem.

Vertical Blight, Carlsbad's shame.

Jan. 6, 2020

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