After a five-hour meeting of mostly public comments Wednesday night, the Carlsbad Planning Commission decided to vote on the proposed Quarry Creek residential project during its next meeting.
Commissioners listened to dozens of speakers share their opinions on the Quarry Creek Master Plan, which proposes the construction of 656 residential units on the 156-acre Quarry Creek site located on the border of Carlsbad and Oceanside, south of state Route 78 and west of College Boulevard. The plan, which also includes a day care site, community recreation site and a park and ride site, pitted preservationists against city staff and the developer, who said the project could help Carlsbad meet state affordable housing requirements.
Mark McMillin, president and CEO of the developer, The Corky McMillin Companies, said his company has held more than 80 meetings with a variety of interest groups throughout the planning process.
“We recognized and agreed with the city of Carlsbad that you had an obligation to produce more affordable housing within the city of Carlsbad,” said McMillin, whose company has constructed nearly 30,000 homes and developed 17 master planned communities in San Diego County, including Calavera Hills and Robertson Ranch in Carlsbad. “The Carlsbad city staff and our Quarry Creek team have worked very, very hard hand-in-hand through the process to prepare a project that meets the city’s goals.”
Although the city needs 500 homes to meet its commitment for affordable housing, Todd Galarneau, a senior vice president at The Corky McMillin Companies, said the developer needs to build 656 units to make the project viable. Some public speakers disagreed and urged the developer to reduce the number of proposed homes.
Carlsbad resident Jeff Goodrick said he was concerned about the project’s effects on traffic, which he said is going to be “horrific.”
“I believe that McMillin can make money at 500 homes and not 656,” he said.
Penny Johnson opposed the project because the site includes sensitive habitats and borders the historic Marron Adobe and El Salto Falls.
“Showing an appreciation of our past history and environment is not a bad thing, and helps give us and future generations a sense of belonging and to value the cultures that have contributed to our lifestyles,” said Johnson, a Carlsbad resident since 1977. “Realizing that progress means growth, it should not erase our appreciation and reverence of the past, and saving the pan handle will give us that opportunity.”
Oceanside resident Suzie Coker agreed.
“I don’t believe not building on the pan handle will negatively impact the developers financially," she said. "I have yet to meet a poor developer.”
The developer called the project an example of “smart growth,” however, and explained that roughly 88 acres, or 56 percent of the property, would be set aside as open space.
“Our goal was to strike a balance between reasonable development and the city’s goal of providing affordable housing and the need to provide sufficient open space, protecting the environmental resources on the site,” Galarneau said. “We believe we’ve done that.”
San Marcos resident Kelly Mercado said she “loves open space,” which is why she supports the project.
“I support it because it’s an environmentally conscience project,” Mercado said. “Open space is a key element to the project.”
Rachel Hartman, who manages Mira Costa Apartments, an affordable housing project in Carlsbad, said the city needs more affordable housing and her complex always has a waiting list.
“This project will go a long way to help the city satisfy the need of its residents and provide a well-planned project next to shopping and transportation,” Hartman said.
Carlsbad resident Susan Sharif also urged the commission to approve the project.
“We have a critical need for more affordable housing here in Carlsbad,” Sharif said. “The city has been well-planned, but we are behind in projects like Quarry Creek.”
The commission will reconvene on Wednesday, March 6, and make its recommendation to the Carlsbad City Council on the Quarry Creek Master Plan. The city council will have the final decision on the project.