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Those hoping for a quick resolution to the fast-tracking of a mall will have to wait until Thursday at the earliest, according to the Registrar of Voters. With 7,000 mail-in ballots to count, the opposition to Measure A in Carlsbad has 16,727 votes, while support for the measure (and thus, the mall) has 16,541.

Whatever the final tally, the voter turnout indicates that Carlsbad residents have strong opinions on development and bypassing the California Environmental Quality Act – and that could have implications for other developments around the county. (Or, you know, they could all just have strong opinions on shopping malls.)

This special election is expected to surpass 56 percent turnout. Compare that with the 2014 general election in Carlsbad, which just fell shy of 50 percent.

If Measure A passes, it could signify the willingness of some voters to allow development to bypass CEQA, although the 85/15 Plan will still require approval by the California Coastal Commission.

Last November, Caruso Affiliated gathered more than 20,000 signatures to put its project on the ballot, taking advantage of a recent California Supreme Court ruling that said citizen initiatives are not subject to CEQA analysis.

Like Caruso Affiliated’s 85/15 Plan in Carlsbad, Lilac Hills Ranch in Valley Center has also staked its future on a citizens’ initiative, after Supervisor Bill Horn’s recusal muddied the project’s chances of clearing the Board of Supervisors.

But a defeat at the ballot box wouldn’t necessarily spell the end – the developers can still put the project through the rigors of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Kristina Ray, communications manager for Carlsbad, said Caruso Affiliated has completed environmental studies that would normally be evaluated under CEQA, although the developers did not initiate the formal review process, which takes months – or longer – to complete.

If Measure A fails, Caruso Affiliated could still resubmit the project at any time if it completes the CEQA analysis, and if it does, it will be 12 months before the City Council can take up the 85/15 Plan again.

The Goldilocks Zone of Development

This week, Maya Srikrishnan reported that all three candidates for the District 3 County Supervisors race straddle the line between support for development and voters’ concerns about too much development.

Srikrishnan writes that Democratic Supervisor Dave Roberts has been supportive of development when it falls within existing environmental rules, as has Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, even though she has raised money from developers. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, meanwhile, has overseen many large developments in his city, and has also brought in large contributions from developers.

“You would have to be a complete idiot to be openly pro-development,” said Pam Slater-Price, a former Republican who represented the district for years.

Slater-Price says North County voters are mostly conservative, but tend to support environmental measures and defend their neighborhoods from high density.

Also in the News

Mayors of the five cities along State Route 78 all want to see SANDAG funds to improve the highway, including the junction of SR-78 and Interstate 5. (The Coast News)

 A neighborhood of tiny homes may be headed for Escondido. (KPBS)

Oceanside is targeting the sale of drugs that are marked as products not meant for consumption. (Union-Tribune)

A fight over water rights in Fallbrook between Camp Pendleton and just about everyone else who uses the Santa Margarita River has been going on since 1951. (Union-Tribune)

Oh, and Eddie Vedder played the shaker to “Roadrunner” at San Dieguito Academy. (Vimeo)

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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