Carlsbad North County San Diego
Carlsbad City Hall / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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The Carlsbad City Council on Wednesday chose Planning Commissioner Carolyn Luna for the vacant District 2 seat, putting to rest the controversy that surrounded one of the other applicants — a real estate developer. 

Luna, who served on the city’s Planning Commission for six years, was the favorite with all four councilmembers. They were asked to write the names of their top choices, as many as three, on a paper ballot to be read aloud. All four councilmembers placed Luna in their top three. 

She retired in 2015 from administrative and planning work with the Riverside County government. Three public speakers at the meeting commended her experience and wealth of knowledge in areas of government and city planning. 

For weeks, Carlsbad residents speculated about Josh Coelho, one of the other seven applicants vying for the open District 2 seat formerly held by Mayor Keith Blackburn. 

Coelho is a real estate developer and construction project director for The Irvine Company, a private real estate investment company that operates three apartment communities in Carlsbad. 

Some residents were concerned Coelho might favor developers and landlords, instead of regular Carlsbad residents, if he was appointed. 

Shortly after her appointment, Luna was sworn in and took part in a vote to appoint a representative for the San Diego Association of Governments’ board of directors. 

The council has failed to decide on a representative for over a month. 

Blackburn nominated himself for the role last month, but the council deadlocked in a 2-2 vote. The tie breaker could only come once a new council member was appointed. 

Blackburn moved to appoint Councilmember Melanie Burkholder to the position with the condition that Burkholder would hold only the SANDAG seat and no other committees.  

All her committee time should be devoted to the SANDAG role, Blackburn said. 

Council members Priya Bhat-Patel and Teresa Acosta argued that Luna should serve as the representative, but Luna and the other council members agreed that it would be too big of a responsibility to take on so quickly. 

Burkholder was appointed 3-2 with Bhat-Patel and Acosta opposed. 

SANDAG controls planning and funding for highways and transit improvements throughout the county. Its board is made up of elected officials from the county and its 18 cities. 

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