Carlsbad OKs condo project, gets Poinsettia Lane extended and new park built

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The Carlsbad City Council on March 14 approved a series of agreements that will enable the missing link of Poinsettia Lane to be completed; create new trails; increase the amount of protected habitat in Carlsbad; create a neighborhood park on the site of the long-abandoned Buena Vista Reservoir; and resolve a lawsuit filed by North County Advocates on the city’s General Plan update and Climate Action Plan.

Over the past 12 months, the City of Carlsbad worked with representatives of North County Advocates, Lennar Homes, Friends of the Buena Vista Reservoir, Friends of Aviara and Preserve Calavera to hammer out a deal amenable to all parties.

The result:

• As a condition of the Council approving a proposed 123-unit detached condo project, Lennar Homes will complete the Poinsettia Lane connection between El Camino Real and Cassia Street.

• Future development on Ambrosia Lane adjacent to the Aviara Oaks middle school and elementary school campuses is eliminated from the Lennar Homes project.

• To address environmental impacts of the project, Lennar Homes promises to protect habitat in the project area and restore habitat near Aviara Community Park and the future Veterans Park. In all about six acres of land is added to the city’s habitat preserves, beyond the amount already in city plans.

• The city will reclassify about three acres of land currently slated to be developed into a park as habitat preserve. The land is located at the future site of Veterans Park off Faraday Avenue, near Cannon Road.

• To make up for three-acre decrease in developable park land at the Veterans Park property, the city changed the use of a three-acre abandoned reservoir site near the corner of Buena Vista Way and Highland Drive from future housing to park land. Lennar Homes will pay for and build a neighborhood park on the site of the former Buena Vista Reservoir. The city will maintain the park.

• The city of Carlsbad and North County Advocates also agreed to incorporate these terms into a larger settlement of a lawsuit challenging the city’s General Plan update and Climate Action Plan, which were approved in September 2015.

The Lennar Homes “Poinsettia 61” project could start construction as soon as the end of this year. Under the terms of the agreements, the Poinsettia Lane connection and the new park would be completed within 30 months of construction beginning on the Poinsettia 61 project. The City Council also directed staff to work with the surrounding neighborhoods to address any traffic concerns related to opening of Poinsettia Lane to through traffic.

The new park at the Buena Vista Reservoir site will have to go through the city’s park development process, which includes involving the community in the design.

Under the city’s Growth Management Program, developers must pay for and build infrastructure needed to accommodate development.

Lennar Homes’ Poinsettia 61 is the third project to be proposed for this site. Had it not been approved, the future connection of Poinsettia Lane would have been postponed, and another developer potentially could have built homes along Ambrosia Lane adjacent to the Aviara Oaks middle school and elementary school campuses.

Completion of Poinsettia Lane is expected to reduce traffic flows on Cassia Road and improve traffic flow on El Camino Real and Ambrosia Lane.

Residents of Old Carlsbad have long been clamoring for the city to turn the old Buena Vista Reservoir site into a park. The city owns the 3.1-acre site, located in a residential area of northwest Carlsbad just east of Interstate 5 and north of Carlsbad Village Drive.

As part of a strategy for maximizing the public benefit of city-owned properties, Carlsbad city staff in 2014 proposed selling the property to a private party who could develop it in accordance with the land use rules in the area, which currently allow for about 14 home sites.

Neighbors opposed the sale and, coming together as Friends of Buena Vista Reservoir Park, asked the city to consider turning the property into a park. The City Council delayed the decision to sell the property while neighbors worked with city staff to identify a way to pay for the park.

According to the Friends of Buena Vista Reservoir Park website, “Preserving the Buena Vista Reservoir site as a neighborhood park presents a unique opportunity to protect one of the last remaining Olde Carlsbad public properties on the Highland Drive ridgeline with breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding lands. A park at the Buena Vista Reservoir would preserve a sense of place for the history of the early farming community that surrounded the reservoir and helped established Carlsbad as an agricultural hub, including avocado production and flower farming. The land at the reservoir site is irreplacable and is a public property. Let’s take the next step and create a beautiful park at the reservoir site for the enjoyment of everyone in perpetuity.”

The city’s Growth Management Program specifies how much park land will be created based on the number of people living in an area. Developers provide money to fund the parks based on the number of future residents of their developments.

Since city has already met the requirements for park space in the northwest part of the city, prior to this proposal, no funding source existed to build a park at the Buena Vista Reservoir site.

The city’s Habitat Management Plan guides the design, management, monitoring and public use of the natural habitat preserve system within the City of Carlsbad. Under the plan, 5,970 acres of natural lands have already been preserved for plants and animals. The city’s goal is to set aside 6,478 acres of natural habitat by the time all major new development has occurred in the city (called “build out”).

All cities in California are required to have a General Plan, which specifies how land will be utilized, and a Climate Action Plan, which describes how they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Carlsbad City Council approved an update to the city’s General Plan and adopted its Climate Action Plan in September 2015. North County Advocates sued the city over the environmental analysis and mitigation for the General Plan update and Climate Action Plan and the General Plan’s compliance with the city’s Growth Management Program.

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