The county Registrar of Voters has verified signatures submitted by opponents aimed at rescinding approval or forcing a public vote on controversial plans to develop lagoon-adjacent land in Carlsbad.
According to the city of Carlsbad, referendum organizers gathered the minimum of 6,523 signatures of registered voters, 10 percent of total registered city voters, needed to require city officials to rescind approval of the Agua Hedionda project, or place the measure on a future election ballot.
Referendum supporters submitted a total of 9,095 signatures to the city on Sept. 24. The Carlsbad City Council on Nov. 3 is expected to consider a resolution adopting the registrar’s finding.
Also on Nov. 3, or at another future meeting, the City Council will decide whether to repeal the ordinance that it passed on Aug. 25, approving the lagoon plan submitted by backers including developer Caruso Affiliated, or to place the issue before voters.
A ballot measure would be decided either during the next regular municipal election, on Nov. 8, 2016, or in a special election that could be scheduled to take place not less than 88 days following City Council’s decision to call a special election.
The county registrar has estimated that a stand-alone special election in Carlsbad would cost between $450,000 and $550,000, with the city bearing the full cost. No cost estimates have been provided for placing the matter on next November’s ballot.
The lagoon plan was put forward through an initiative process by a group known as Preserving Carlsbad Open Space the Right Way, which includes and is backed by Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated. It calls for building a Caruso-proposed, open-air retail and entertainment center anchored by Nordstrom on a 26-acre portion of a 203-acre site near the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
Most of the rest of the site, about 176 acres near Cannon Road off Interstate 5, would contain new open-space, recreation and public access amenities.
Opposition to the development plan is led by a non-profit group known as Citizens for North County, which backed the referendum drive.