Carlsbad Measure A headed for narrow defeat in preliminary tally

Controversial initiative called for shopping mall and open-space preservation along lagoon

North Coast Current

A citizen-led effort to block a proposed shopping mall and open-space project along Carlsbad’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon appeared successful by a razor-thin margin late Feb. 23.

Measure A — an initiative to decide whether to move ahead with Caruso Affiliated’s shopping mall and open-space proposal — was headed toward defeat as of late Tuesday night, with 50.28 percent of Carlsbad voters opposed and 49.72 percent in favor, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to a preliminary tally from the county registrar of voters office.

Results are unofficial at this time. A little more than 7,100 provisional and/or mail-in ballots remained to be counted, officials reported.

The initiative called for a comprehensive plan for land use on a little more than 203 acres east of Interstate 5 between the south shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon and Cannon Road, which includes an area known as the Strawberry Fields. While 155 acres of that land is designated open space, the other 48 acres have a commercial designation, according to the city. Developer Caruso Affiliated would build its shopping center on half of that 48 acres, with the other half going toward open space.

Advertised as the “85/15 Plan,” Caruso and supporters pushed an earlier initiative through in 2015, winning the Carlsbad City Council’s support outright, sidestepping a special election. Residents opposed to the plan gathered enough signatures to force the initiative to the Feb. 23 special election.