Park-starved Carlsbad wins one

Council votes for peaceful place — to be paid for by developer

The old reservoir, labeled "Carlsbad ditch" on Google Maps
  • The old reservoir, labeled "Carlsbad ditch" on Google Maps

The Carlsbad city council on Tuesday night (March 14) unanimously approved a settlement plan that will create a new park at the chain-link-fenced Buena Vista reservoir and will resolve a lawsuit against the city over alleged gaps in its general and climate action plans.

"It's a win for everyone," said attorney Everett Delano, who represented plaintiff North County Advocates in the suit.

The new park will sit on three acres on the northeast side of Carlsbad, to be funded with $3 million from Lennar Homes, Inc., as part of the developer's required mitigation for its Poinsettia 61 project that puts 123 new condos on Poinsettia Lane. Lennar is also going to pay for habitat restoration in Veterans Park, according to the settlement.

The reservoir really is an old reservoir, with a huge concrete holding pool that has fallen into disrepair. The city has fenced it with signs to keep people out and has considered selling the land to developers — an idea that was met with fierce resistance in 2014 from the park-starved neighborhood near the old cement pond.

North County Advocates filed the lawsuit in 2015, alleging among other things that the city wasn't meeting its own goals for providing parks and open spaces for residents. By 2016, settlement negotiations had bogged down — stuck on the argument of whether or not the city was in compliance.

But Lennar's obligations to mitigate as part of the near-coastal development opened a door to reach a settlement and create park space, Delano said. By the time the negotiations became public, Friends of Aviara, Friends of Buena Vista Reservoir, and Preserve Calavera were all involved in the settlement, which also enhances habitat at Veterans Park and Aviara Park.

"Unlike Carlsbad's newer master-planned communities, old Carlsbad does not have many smaller neighborhood parks," said Mary Anne Viney, who heads Friends of Buena Vista. "Instead of building houses on the site of an abandoned reservoir, this would provide a way to fund the creation of a peaceful place where residents can enjoy Carlsbad's natural beauty."

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