Carlsbad Referendum Signatures Stun Caruso, City Council Pals

via Citizens for North County Facebook

Strawberry Field Owner’s Campaign Donations Revealed

By Richard Riehl

It must have been quite a shock for L.A.’s Caruso Affiliated executives to see the stack of signed petitions delivered to the Carlsbad city clerk’s office last Thursday. The 9,000 signers of the referendum petition are calling for a public vote on the developer’s plan for a lagoon-view shopping center, as promised in the title of the initiative, Measure to be Submitted Directly to the Voters.

When the Carlsbad city Council unanimously approved his plan on August 25, Caruso had already spent nearly $3 million on signature gatherers and a blizzard of glossy, full-color mailers to persuade 20,000 Carlsbadians that his plan to build a shopping mall was all about saving the Strawberry Fields.

The day after the council voted, a grassroots group, Citizens for North County, announced its plan to launch a referendum drive. Caruso had to redouble his marketing campaign. But this time his mailers, accompanied by daily prime time TV ads, featured headshot photos of and quotes from all five city Council members, as well as the owner of the Strawberry Fields. Each repeated the lie that signing the referendum would destroy the Strawberry Fields, despite the promise of Prop D to preserve them, passed by voters in 2006. The Caruso mailer included a detachable, postage-paid card to return to the city clerk for signers of the referendum to have their names withdrawn.   [Read more…]

Have You No Shame , Mr. Caruso? Carlsbad Residents are Not ‘Corporate Interests’


The Strawberry Fields Mall marketing campaign heats up

By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

When my wife and I arrived at Alga Norte Park last week to be among the first to sign the referendum to let us vote on the city Council’s decision to allow a developer to build a shopping center on the Hedionda Lagoon, we found two tables there, the first set up to dissuade those of us headed for the referendum table nearby.

The folks supporting the Caruso development were pleasant enough, inviting us to hear their side of the story. But having already been duped into signing a petition to “save the Strawberry Fields,” only to learn we’d been misled, we headed straight for the referendum table a few yards away.   [Read more…]

Choosing Real Citizen-Led Advocacy to Preserve Carlsbad’s Open Space

Strawberry fields in Carlsbad, April 2010, closeup

By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

After vowing never again to sign a petition, my wife and I are headed to Alga Norte Park to sign one. It’s our attempt to make up for foolishly falling for the pitch to support an initiative to “save the strawberry fields.” The man with the clipboard at my door claimed he was a member of a group of concerned citizens, rallying to save them.

A day later I learned how I had been sweet-talked into abandoning my skepticism of California’s bogus initiative campaigns. He was far from the public-spirited do-gooder he represented himself to be. The guy walking away with my signature was paid for its delivery to the developer who was rallying to bring a strip mall to the strawberry fields.   [Read more…]

Preserve Carlsbad Open Space the Right Way: Let Us Vote


By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

When it comes to air pollution, the Carlsbad City Council’s report on the Agua Hedionda Initiative, the “9212 Report,” reads a little like “close enough for guv’ment work.” When it comes to traffic congestion, it’s a developer’s faith-based initiative. But when it comes to the city’s projected $2.6 million a year tax revenue windfall it’s, “Whoopee, we’re gonna be rich!”

City staff took 2 ½ months to write the August 7 report. The Council and general public will have had 17 days to read and think about what’s in its 254 pages, and the 542 additional pages of supporting documents, before next Tuesday, August 25, when the Council will decide whether to approve the plan with no further review, put it on the ballot for voters to decide, or take more time to think it over.   [Read more…]

Duped by Signature Campaign for Strawberry Fields Mall in Carlsbad


The perversion of citizen led petition drives by big money

By Richard Riehl

My afternoon nap was disturbed last month by the sound of a man’s cheery voice from behind the screen at my open front door.

“Hello, hello!”

Awakening from a sound sleep, I shuffled to the door to find a man standing there, holding a clipboard. He didn’t introduce himself, just explained, “We’re gathering signatures to save the strawberry fields.” I didn’t recognize him, but his easy way led me to believe he was a fellow resident of our 40-unit condo community.

Despite full knowledge of our HOA ban on door-to-door solicitation and my own vow never to sign a petition without knowing the details of what it meant and who was pushing it, I allowed the phrase, “save our strawberry fields” to cloud my better judgment.   [Read more…]

Backlash Grows Over Private Clubs’ Use of Public Beaches

The backlash is growing – the backlash against the use of our public beaches and coast areas by private clubs who host work-outs, volleyball games and yoga classes. About a week ago, the U-T published an article entitled, “Residents Cry Foul at Beach Courts’ Access” – how Carlsbad residents and beach-goers are complaining about a private volleyball club agreement with the state that gives their members priority on volleyball courts.

This echoes a “reader rant” just this summer here on the OB Rag about how a surf school takes too much space on the beach as well as in the ocean. The writer’s complaints about lack of access and safety issues found a lot of resonance among the commenters.
  [Read more…]

Restaurant Review: Carlsbad’s Village Grill

Village Grill
2833 State Street
Carlsbad, CA  92008

By Judi Curry

Once again a few members of my support group decided to hop on the Coaster and spend the day in Carlsbad.  We did this last year and really enjoyed ourselves and thought it was time for an encore.

The Coaster left the Old Town Trolley Station at 9:50am and by the time we arrived in Carlsbad we were hungry.  We decided to stop for breakfast before we did anything else, and stopped at the “Village Grill” within shouting distance of where we got off the Coaster.

The restaurant is a funky, outdoor place and when we looked inside there was a small counter and one table indoors. The chefs cooked just behind the counter.   [Read more…]

Where Are All the Strawberry Fields Going?

By Judi Curry

During my trip to Carlsbad last weekend with members of my support group, we stopped in at a delightful shoe shop, “Coolest Shoes in California” and had an interesting discussion with Christine Davis, the owner of the store.  Somehow we started talking about the Carlsbad Strawberry Fields and making jam, and she commented to me “better hurry.  They won’t be here long.”

At first, I thought she was telling me that the season was just about over, but in discussing it further, it turns out that a Los Angeles developer has agreed to purchase 48 acres of the fields that are along Interstate 5. They purchased the fields from SDG&E and, at the present time, do not have any plans for the fields, except to destroy them.   [Read more…]

A Ride to North County

By Judi Curry

For the past few months members of my support group have talked about taking a ride on the ‘Coaster’ to North County. Only one of the members had been on the Coaster; the others of us had it on our ‘bucket’ list.

The first time we were to go it rained; the second time we were to go someone was sick; the third time it was raining again. This time we decided we would go regardless if it rained, or regardless if someone became ill. It was a “go” no matter what. And, wouldn’t you know, the weather forecast WAS for rain, but we decided unless a hurricane was in the offing we would still go. And then one of the people that was going to go with us became ill, but she encouraged us to go anyway, and we did. We are so glad that we did.   [Read more…]

Wells Fargo CEO Meets a Desperate Homeowner Facing Foreclosure, Flees

Wells Fargo Bank CEO John Stumpf’s keynote speech to the American Banker Retail Lending Conference on Thursday morning didn’t quite work out like he (or anyone else) expected. Midway through his address, single mom Betty Badro calmly walked up on the stage to confront him over Wells Fargo’s foreclosure polices.

Ms. Badro, who has worked for the State of California for 22 years, attempted to deliver a personal check to the CEO, and tried to explain that she was hoping to forestall a scheduled foreclosure of her home tomorrow, March 15th. Not saying another word, Mr. Stumpf turned his back on Ms. Badro and left the stage.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line— San Diego Non-Profit Organizations Under the Gun; Police Seeking Payoffs for Permits

A move by the San Diego Police Department to eliminate an exemption allowing non-profit organizations to throw fundraisers and other entertainment events without having to pay for city permits is drawing fire from charitable groups. They say the local law enforcement agency is trying to balance their budget off local fundraisers.

The cops are hoping to make the case that the fee exemptions provided to non-profits are in violation of Proposition 26, which requires a legislative supermajority to change fees charged for licenses. They claim businesses paying for permit fees are subsidizing non-profit organizations because of the need to provide police protection at events.

The Worldbeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park, non-profit dedicated to African African-American arts and culture has posted an online petition at looking for public help.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line— Why Building the Carlsbad Desalination Plant is a Good Thing for San Diego

The San Diego County Water Authority gave the nod yesterday to a thirty year water purchase deal that will clear the way for a privately constructed desalination plant to operate in the north county.

Frankly, I don’t see this as a controversial decision. I’ve read the arguments pro and con. I think the desal plant is a good idea. Let me explain why.   [Read more…]

Will Carlbad’s Controversial Desalination Plant Get Off the Ground?

Southern’s California Recent Desal Plant Faces its Last Hurdle

By David Rosenfeld / AlterNet / Originally published July 17, 2012

The private equity firm proposing to finance the project has one last hurdle to overcome: It needs someone to agree to buy the water. And that is proving tricky.

After more than a decade spent talking about building a large-scale ocean desalination plant in Carlsbad, California, the private equity firm proposing to finance the project has one last hurdle to overcome: It needs someone to agree to buy the water.

Poseidon Resources has put forth several iterations over the years of its proposed plant in San Diego County, expected to produce up to 50 million gallons of freshwater daily. In one attempt, Poseidon inked agreements with local water agencies claiming it could sell water at no greater cost than imported water supplies.

But investors and members of the San Diego County Water Authority, both of whom Poseidon needs for support, balked at the claim and those agreements were scrapped.   [Read more…]