Councilwoman Sanchez Speaks Out Against Quarry Creek Project

By Kristina Houck on March 27, 2013 in the Oceanside CampPendelton*Patch

Oceanside Councilwoman Esther Sanchez was one of more than 50 people
who spoke out against the 656-home Quarry Creek development project
before the Carlsbad City Council Tuesday night.

The Corky McMillin Companies would develop the proposed units on the
156-acre former rock quarry site located on the border of Carlsbad and
Oceanside, south of state Route 78 and west of College Boulevard. The
majority of the speakers campaigned for an alternative plan that would
reduce the number of proposed homes and restrict development of an
undeveloped portion of the land known as the panhandle.

Critics of the plan cited the development’s impact on the site’s historical
significance, open space, density and traffic as major concerns.

Among the opponents was Sanchez, who said Oceanside remains opposed
to the project. Although the developer has agreed to a list of traffic improvements
Oceanside requested be a part of the project, Sanchez said she still has concerns
about the impact on traffic and urged council members to reduce the number
of units and not allow development of the panhandle.

“I ask you tonight to consider the historic importance of these lands to our region,
to our two cities,” Sanchez said. “For all of us and our future generations, consider
that all of the negative impacts of this project will be born by Oceanside residents.”

Mel Vernon, tribal captain of the San Louis Rey Band of Mission Indians, talked
about the site’s Native American history.

“When a construction project proposes development on an area known to hold
our cultural resources, our preference is always for that land to be avoided so
that the cultural items beneath the soil are not disturbed,” Vernon said.

Earlier in March, the Carlsbad Planning Commission recommended approval of
the plan with several modifications, including that the project be limited to 600
homes and avoid the panhandle for most development. After the developer
noted that they would need to retain the proposed 656 units to make the
project viable, the commission asked The Corky McMillin Companies
to provide financial data for the City Council to review.

During the five-and-a-half hour City Council meeting, some opponents of the
plan requested the financial data and argued that the company can make
money from fewer homes.

“The developer says at this level it’s not economically feasible. I think you need
to ask and pursue that a little bit more,” said Fred Sandquist, president of the
Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to the preservation,
enhancement and protection of Batiquitos Lagoon. “The planning commission
recommended that the developer provide that information, but I certainly
didn’t hear it tonight.”

Supporters of the project said Quarry Creek provides much-needed affordable
housing and preserves open space.

“I do think at the end of the day you should take into consideration that a significant
amount of the property is being preserved,” said Marcela Escobar-Eck, the former
planning director for Carlsbad. “We do need to accommodate the housing that
ultimately we’re going to need within the city of Carlsbad.”

Rachel Hartman, who manages Mira Costa Apartments in Carlsbad, agreed that
the city needs more affordable housing and said there is always a waiting list for
her affordable housing complex.

“This project will go a long way to help the city satisfy its need for affordable housing
while providing a beautifully planned project next to shopping and transportation,”
Hartman said.

Todd Galarneau, a senior vice president at The Corky McMillin Companies, said the
company has worked with the city on this project for almost a decade and has consistently
compromised on the project, providing 56 percent of the site as open space and 44
percent developed. Galarneau requested the City Council approve 656 homes so
the project is viable.

“We’ve been flexible and accommodating. As the vision has changed over the years,
we’ve worked with it,” Galarneau said. “We’ve got a project that we think both McMillin
can be proud of and the city can be proud of as well.”

At almost 11:30 p.m., council members agreed to close the public hearing and continue
City Council discussions to the April 2 meeting.