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With land use issues so prevalent in North County, too frequent is the focus on the developers versus residents: the apartment building that threatens to overrun the neighborhood, or NIMBYs who block a particular project.

Attorney Everett Delano is certainly no stranger to that story, having represented several resident groups in their fights against developers.

But Delano says that a settlement agreement reached between several groups, and approved by the Carlsbad City Council earlier this month, presents another, less told story – that when parties are willing to work together, a project can benefit the residents, developers and the city.

“So often it’s a train wreck. Everyone wants to cover the train wreck,” Delano said. “But if you’re going to cover the train wreck, then you have to cover the successes.”

At issue was a change Carlsbad made to its General Plan and Climate Action Plan, to accommodate Poinsettia 61, a 123-home subdivision on 51 acres in the Aviara neighborhood.

North County Advocates represents a group of residents involved in several lawsuits in North County, including one of the latest against the city of Encinitas.

In 2015, NCA sued Carlsbad, saying the changes the city made for Poinsettia 61 violated the city’s Growth Management Plan, which Delano says “helps to make sure development doesn’t get ahead of other things,” like parks and fire stations.

The parties, which also include the developer, Lennar Homes of California, Preserve Calavera, Friends of Aviara, and Friends of Buena Vista Reservoir, litigated the issue over the next 18 months.

In January, they reached a tentative settlement, which included retaining the Buena Vista Reservoir as a three-acre public park, support for Poinsettia 61, setting aside six acres for habitat preservation and completing a missing section of Poinsettia Lane, with a wildlife corridor under the new bridge.

Delano said that part of why the talks were successful was because of the Growth Management Plan passed by voters. The Growth Management Plan helped provide specific targets the city couldn’t look past when it amended its General Plan, Delano said.

The larger driver behind the talks, Delano said, is that all the parties were willing to make the project beneficial for all.

“I did not imagine over a dozen years ago, when proposals first started coming in … that I would be looking at a project that was this beneficial to the community,” said Friends of Aviara’s DeAnn Weimer, who was a major opponent of Carlsbad’s Measure A, the proposed luxury mall on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.  “Lennar should be commended.”

Diane Nygaard, with Preserve Calavera, said, “it was hard to believe 18 years ago, I would one day speak out in favor of development, but here we are to do just that.”

She said housing projects can help preserve natural resources when they are part of a “package of changes” that aim to do so.

Carlsbad Has Its Eyes on You

After an increase in property crimes, Carlsbad will expand its automated license plate reader system, so police will know which cars are coming to and going from the city.

Last week, the City Council approved an $800,000 contract to increase the number of patrol cars outfitted with license-plate readers from four to six, and install 51 cameras at 14 intersections.

The decision was made in a 4-1 vote, and the Union-Tribune reports Council members are confident information will be kept secured, and result in safer neighborhoods.

“To me, $1 million is a drop in the bucket when you are trying to protect 100,000 or more people, and everyone who comes into our city every day,” said Councilman Keith Blackburn, according to the U-T.

The data will be shared with a system operated by Vigilant Solutions, the contractor that supplies the cameras, Carlsbad Police Department community relations manager Jodee Sasway said.

That differs from the practice for the existing license-plate readers, where data is submitted to the Automated Regional Justice Information System, a consortium of police agencies in San Diego County, and “ex officio” members like the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FBI, State Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

That system has its own policy for recording, storing and accessing data collected through the member agencies – namely the data can only be used for legitimate law enforcement activities, and can only be accessed by law enforcement agencies.

Sasway said Carlsbad doesn’t have a policy with Vigilant Solutions like the one governing ARJIS data, but expects to have one when the cameras go live.

Encinitas Sued Again

Encinitas has been hit with another lawsuit over its failure to adopt a plan for how it will house a growing population, called a housing element. This time, a 2013 measure is in the crosshairs for being a barrier to housing.

The Coast News’ Aaron Burgin writes:

The four-point legal demand dated March 15 argues that the city has repeatedly failed to meet its state requirements to zone appropriately to meet its regional affordable housing needs. The letter then takes aim at Prop. A, the 2013 voter initiative that requires a public vote on major zoning changes or changes to the Housing Element, which the attorneys argue directly conflicts with state law.

The city has launched a new effort to develop a plan, in the form of a task force.

Meanwhile, the city also faces exposure to two lawsuits it already settled, for failing to adopt a housing element.

Also in the News

 This week marked 20 years since 39 people died as part of the Heaven’s Gate group. (Union-Tribune)

• Oceanside is touting a large affordable housing project, even though the city continues to lose housing faster than it can build it. (KPBS)

• Supervisor Kristin Gaspar accepted the raise she voted against. (Union-Tribune)

• Eighty businesses will be evicted from a 40-year old building in Carlsbad, because it’s too old and is more valuable as condos. (Union-Tribune)

 NCTD will cut bus service amid falling ridership. (Union-Tribune)

• Logan Jenkins takes a few readers to task for trying to make a political issue out of the shooting in Escondido. (Union-Tribune)

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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