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Population, Planning, and Political Posturing

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 20, 2008


When I read the City of Encinitas was suing the City of Carlsbad regarding development impacts I was somewhat amused, as this is obviously a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The issue centers on the Ponto Beach Village Vision Plan, a blueprint for development approved by Carlsbad City Council in November of 2007.

Encinitas planners are no strangers to inadequate traffic mitigation assessment and funding. Rarely do Environment Impact Reports (EIR) generated by Encinitas find significant impacts resulting from development generated traffic increases, and Encinitas has never limited development because of projected traffic increases. Encinitas also refuses to honestly address the accumulated impacts of all development, looking at every new project in isolation of all past and future planning decisions.

Carlsbad's EIR for the Ponto project concluded the master planned community would increase traffic on La Costa Avenue between North Coast Highway 101 and Vulcan Avenue in Encinitas and requires a widening of the La Costa Ave. and improved traffic signals at La Costa and Vulcan and La Costa and Coast Highway 101.

Carlsbad planners calculated the developers' share of infrastructure costs at 27 percent, while Encinitas officials figure their required share to be 71 percent. The cities also differ on the costs of the traffic mitigation with Carlsbad calculating it to be $5.3 million, while the Encinitas estimate is somewhere between $7.3 million and $9.3 million.

In truth, when stating their case, Encinitas planners have conveniently failed to mention the known impacts of the 130 hotel room KSL "condo-hotel" slated for 4.1 bluff top acres at the Northern boundary of Leucadia and the 26 unit "Surfers Point" time share resort planned for 1.8 acres across the Coast Highway.

Could it be that Encinitas is attempting to use the courts to force Carlsbad to pay for infrastructure improvements required to accommodate future development in Encinitas?

Having read the EIR for the Ponto Villages project, I can say the overdevelopment proposed for the southwest corner of the city is completely intentional, pedestrian and bicycle friendly, environmentally sensitive and somewhat ecologically aware. Financially appealing, it incorporates mass transit, mixed-use commercial areas and visitor-serving accommodation, and promotes overpopulation and a further burden on natural resources and native habitat.

The Ponto project will also forever change the face and character of South Carlsbad and Leucadia, resulting a traffic nightmare of epic proportions on Coast Highway 101. According to the Surf rider foundation the Ponto Villages plan will significantly limit access to one of the best waves in San Diego's North County. Beach and surf overcrowding resulting from this extensive development scheme will also spill over into the Grandview surf break in Leucadia.

I do think Encinitas is right over its concern over the impact of the the Ponto Villages will have on coastal Leucadia, I also think that concern should have been there at the beginning of the process, not at the end of the planning process when the skip loaders are about to roll.

Encinitas and Carlsbad should have been in a dialogue over transportation planning years ago, instead they are developing at their own pace, with little discussion between them, all residents can do is to prepare for the inevitable gridlock.

Mass transit anyone?

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