Carlsbad City Council hears surfers' concerns at last night's hearing

The open California coast. There’s something about the place that stirs developers into a frenzy: pristine wetlands, attractive beaches, blue water-an ideal location for residential and commercial growth, an ideal location to make a profit.

Last evening in Carlsbad, the City Council opened the floor for comments and concerns on the proposed construction on the 130 acres of land that lies east of PCH across from Ponto, one of Carlsbad’s better beachbreaks.

The main area is the 50 acres upon which the city of Carlsbad has mapped out the Ponto Beachfront {{{Vision}}} Plan. Featuring three hotels, three parking structures, 755 rooms, ten restaurants, offices and live-work areas, the plan has many residents fearing that it will neither be adequately prepared nor equipped to deal with the population increases.

Blake Wood, Ponto local for eleven years and director of the Ponto-Action group, explains the stakes: "If the city approves the declaration as it is without calling for an Environmental Impact Report, then that means they’ve ignored us. But if they vote on having a Report, then it means the developers who are anxious to get underway with construction could possibly be delayed for up to 18 months."

According to Wood, the city refusing to conduct an EIR would create a lax environmental precedence. "Overall we feel like the Ponto Beachfront Vision Plan is too dense," Blake says. "What we’d like the city to do if they’re going to propose this huge project is to prove upfront that it is environmentally feasible, and not pass the work onto the developers who will be more concerned with making a profit than with watching out for the environment."

One of the last standing beaches in Carlsbad without a huge commercial development, the city closed Ponto down three times this year due to storm-water run off. Should the Beachfront Vision Plan pass without the Council requiring an EIP, Blake and other concerned surfers fear that the state will not have the funds to keep up to speed with the higher maintenance overhead needed to clean up the extra trash, which more crowds will bring. Furthermore, a development of this size located in such a close proximity to the Batiquitos Lagoon will create the potential for more toxic stormwater runoff into the ocean. All of this coupled with the increase in noise, lights, and traffic to the area have led many to believe that awareness about the new development’s environmental impact should be part of the city’s agenda.

"I used to live in Orange County," remembers Blake, "but I moved down here because of the rapid spread of development. The beaches in San Diego County are in a condition that we don’t want to lose."

While big developers push forward in the name of ‘progress’, surfers and environmentalists continue to act as the protectors of the land, rallying grass-roots support and working tirelessly–not against progress, but rather in its name–making sure that it is environmentally responsible.

The Carlsbad City Council has scheduled a continuance of the meeting to vote on the Ponto Beachfront Village Vision Plan and MND. The next meeting will be:Tuesday July 19th, 2005 at 6:00 PM
Council Chambers
Carlsbad City Hall
1200 Carlsbad Village Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
({{{760}}}) 434-2830