Carlsbad Voters Give Thumbs Down to Caruso Mall
Measure A, the ballot measure on developing a Caruso Affiliated retail center in Carlsbad, Calif., had been defeated, according to a Feb. 29 statement from County of San Diego Registrar of Voters.
With only 300 ballots yet to be counted, 51.99 percent voted “No” on the measure, compared to 48.01 percent supporting the measure to build a Caruso center in Carlsbad. On Feb. 25, unofficial results for the election had been released. They showed that Measure A was headed to defeat.
In a tightly contested special election, voters in Carlsbad, Calif., rejected a retail center proposed by Caruso Affiliated, the developer of the prominent retail centers The Grove and The Americana at Brand, located in Los Angeles and Glendale, Calif., respectively.
On 5 p.m. on Feb. 25, the city of Carlsbad posted unofficial results of the election, which took place Feb. 23. Voting against the project were 51.18 percent, or 18,658 Carlsbad voters. Supporting Caruso’s project was 48.82 percent of the beachside city’s voters, or 17,795 people.
The election remains open, however, as 3,500 mail and provisional ballots have yet to be counted, according to the Carlsbad city website (www.carlsbadca.gov). The special election might be officially resolved on March 2, or later that week after the outstanding ballots are counted.
The setback is humbling for the popular Rick J. Caruso, founder of Los Angeles–headquartered Caruso Affiliated. He has been frequently sought out as a speaker for developer seminars on the success of his malls. He has been often mentioned as a possible candidate for Los Angeles mayor.
On Aug. 25, Carlsbad’s City Council approved the Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan, which proposed a 26.7 acre retail center east of the I-5 on the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, located in North San Diego County. On Oct. 27, opponents of the project gathered enough signatures to put up the project for a vote.
The stakes for the Carlsbad retail center were high. Caruso waged a four-year public-relations campaign to convince Carlsbad voters that his project was a good choice. He promised that a full-line Nordstrom department store would open on the lagoon where he owns a parcel of land. He also promised that his plan would include open space on the lagoon where visitors could go on nature walks. The plan also forecast that a section of the lagoon land would be preserved as an agricultural zone. The space was once devoted to family farms.