Caruso’s Carlsbad Shopping Center Delayed


As of Thursday, November 5, 2015

UPDATE: At a Nov. 3 meeting, the Carlsbad City Council voted to accept a report by San Diego County's Registrar of Voters, which said that opponents of Caruso Affiliated's project in Carlsbad had enough signatures to require a municipal vote on the project. But the city council did not decide whether a vote should be taken on Caruso’s project on the 2016 municipal ballot, which is scheduled for Nov. 8, or whether it should be scheduled for a special election.

The plan to build a Caruso Affiliated retail center on the banks of a lagoon in Carlsbad, Calif., has hit a snag.

On Oct. 27, opponents of the project gathered enough signatures to put the project up for a vote by Carlsbad’s residents after the signatures were verified by San Diego County’s Registrar of Voters.

The Carlsbad City Council will discuss the matter during its Nov. 3 meeting with the idea of deciding whether Caruso’s project should be voted on next year during the next scheduled Nov. 8 election or whether it should be scheduled for a special election.

Residents’ opposition to the project comes after the Carlsbad City Council in August approved zoning changes to allow construction of a mall on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Caruso Affiliated lobbied for the zoning change in a campaign called the 85/15 Plan.

Caruso owns a parcel of land on the lagoon where he hopes to build a retail center that will include a Nordstrom department store.

Opponents of the Caruso mall are called the Citizens for North County. In comments released by the group, they maintain that Caruso Affiliated mounted a multi-million-dollar campaign to influence Carlsbad voters to embrace the lagoon’s zoning change.

On Sept. 24, the citizens group formally submitted its petition to put the matter to a vote. They needed to gather signatures from at least 10 percent of Carlsbad’s registered voters. The county’s Registrar of Voters verified there were 8,052 signatures collected, which was enough to put the matter on the ballot.

Caruso Affiliated did not return requests for comment after the mall opponents’ petition was approved. However, Rick Caruso, the company’s founder and the developer of The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles, released this statement:

“We began reaching out to the community nearly four years ago and have met with thousands of Carlsbad residents. Even after we gathered 20,000 signatures in support of the 85/15 Plan, and the City Council (5–0) unanimously adopted the plan, our outreach continued. We are extraordinarily grateful to an overwhelming number of Carlsbad residents who have contributed to the plan, embraced it and will support it as we move forward.”

The 85/15 Plan to change the zoning calls for some development on 48 acres east of Interstate 5 on Canon Road in Carlsbad. Some of the land would remain open space for public use with hiking trails. The plan also calls for 155 acres east of that land to be designated as permanent open space.

The Carlsbad project is only one of Caruso’s current real estate developments. His company is working on Palisades Village to upgrade the downtown retail area of Pacific Palisades, an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood. Also in development is a hotel in the beachside community of Montecito near Santa Barbara, Calif.