CARLSBAD — Carlsbad’s Planning Commission heard presentations from city staff and the developer, as well as comments from more than 50 members of the public at its hearing on the Quarry Creek project on Feb. 20, which caused the commission to postpone making a decision on the housing project until its March 6 meeting. Proposed by developer Corky McMillin Companies, the Quarry Creek residential project proposes building 656 housing units on a 156-acre site on the border of Carlsbad and Oceanside.
The site is south of state Route 78 and west of College Boulevard, and contains the Marron-Hayes Adobe and El Salto Falls.
Opponents of the project raised concerns about the development’s affect on the site’s historical significance, open space, and wildlife, and campaigned for an alternative plan that did not include developing an undeveloped portion of the Quarry Creek land known as the panhandle.
“When the EIR (environmental impact report) was done, I don’t believe an accurate accounting was given to the historical significance (of the land and adobe),” said Shelley Hayes Caron, who resides in the Marron-Hayes Adobe and whose family owns the site’s historical district. “People that have been coming to this area for generations. If we can save the panhandle, then that view can be passed on to future generations.”
Mel Vernon, tribal captain of the San Louis Rey Band of Mission Indians, spoke on the site’s Native American history, particularly in regards to El Salto Falls. “The falls preservation and protection is one of our highest priorities,” he said.
“The grading, the building is detrimental to some wildlife, small birds and mammals,” said San Diego Animal Advocates representative Jane Cartmill. “Tonight we have heard all about the problems for people, but I think we need to consider the problems for animals too.”
Corky McMillin Companies’ Senior Vice President Todd Galaraneau, repeatedly emphasized in his presentation that the housing project would not be economically feasible without developing the panhandle.
He said that if McMillin did not develop the space and moved the housing units onto the site’s main parcels, “Your revenues drop significantly, but your costs do not drop correspondingly.”
Many supporters of the housing project emphasized that the development would bring much needed affordable housing to Carlsbad while also preserving a great amount of open space.
“I think Quarry Creek represents a win-win for Carlsbad by adding affordable-grade housing and market-grade housing,” said Walter Heiberg, who works for an affordable housing company.
“This (proposed project) actually preserves much more open space than we have in other development areas in our community,” said Marcela Escobar-Eck, the former planning director for Carlsbad.
The Quarry Creek project will need approval from the planning commission before requesting final approval from City Council.