By Tommy Hough
If you're a resident of San Diego County, you've likely heard about Carlsbad Measure A, in part because of the Yes on A campaign's non-stop TV ads airing on all channels trumpeting the benefits the measure will allegedly have for the city of Carlsbad.
That kind of media buy isn't cheap, but the pockets supporting the Yes on A campaign are deep with the cash of a Los Angeles-based developer who has zeroed in on the area around Carlsbad's fabled strawberry fields and Agua Hedionda Lagoon. While the Yes on A TV ads air throughout the San Diego television market, from Camp Pendleton to Otay Mesa to Borrego Springs, at the end of the day this is a Carlsbad-only ballot measure, and whether you think the plan could be improved upon or not, the measure is up for a vote as is on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Mail ballots went out Monday, Jan. 25.
So far the developer has spent upwards of $7 million to undertake the massive media and public relations campaign, but the TV ads and related messaging go into zero detail about the massive new shopping mall that would be built alongside the open space the measure purports to save, the increased crowding of the strawberry fields, and the resulting traffic and effect on real estate prices in neighborhoods suddenly faced with daily bouts of Disneyland-style traffic.
The problem is Measure A is disguised as a ballot measure intent on protecting open space. Make no mistake – it's not. It's about building another mall in North County.
The mall would be located on Cannon Road just east of I-5 on the hill overlooking the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, a tidal body of water and one of the last lagoons and natural wetlands remaining in San Diego County. There's a myriad of reasons as to why protecting lagoons, estuaries, wetlands and the land around them is good for our region's overall environmental health and water quality, and there's beneficial aspects to giving wildlife more room to breath and humans more room to roam and relax, decompress and enjoy a few minutes in a placid, natural setting.
Measure A claims to be about protecting the open space and tidal wetlands of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, but who ever heard of an open space proposal that was incumbent upon building a giant shopping mall alongside it? It's almost as ridiculous as the tone-deaf suggestion, successfully used by a Dallas-based big game hunting club, which argued that endangered black rhinos can be preserved by bidding on the chance to track and kill an endangered black rhino. In the season of reason-free standard bearers like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in which anything goes, the Measure A proposal is another ridiculous proposition dressed in pseudo-rationality.
Even if the mall takes up a small portion of the Agua Hedionda open space, it's still dividing and conquering what is already 100 percent perfectly good open space as is – and what should remain open space. In fact, the plan put forward by the developer is avoiding California environmental law by going through a ballot measure process, and the "open space" the measure claims to save was already set aside as open space by Carlsbad voters in a ballot measure in 2002.
So with Measure A, Carlsbad voters are being invited to preserve the same land twice, and still get stuck with a new mall and traffic – with Carlsbad taxpayers on the hook for $500,000 to have this one single issue on a special February election ballot, instead of waiting for required statewide primary and general election ballots in June and November that are going to happen anyway.
A number of these concerns were addressed on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action-hosted Carlsbad Community Forum on Measure A, featuring a panel of impressive area guests, including attorney Kevin Johnson, professional surfer and environmental activist Cori Schumacher and speaker Bridget Larsen Wright of Citizens for North County, who discussed how:
If you live in Carlsbad and are registered to vote there, please talk with your neighbors, friends and family about Measure A.
Consider the real value of the plan to the people of Carlsbad, the effect on traffic, the effect on the rolling hills, open space and strawberry fields which make Carlsbad such a special locale in coastal North County. Is this mall really what's needed to enhance the quality of life of Carlsbad? Is the city's economy really going to rise or fall on the construction of this mall? And if the mall is indeed so important, why build in such a controversial location alongside open space and a tidal lagoon? Why not build it someplace else?
As was detailed at the Jan. 21 forum at the Carlsbad City Library, this is a situation in which a developer has been granted "back door" privileges and access to city officials throughout the process, in which city officials themselves have been relegated to a "ministerial" role in the development, and which the city of Carlsbad's former planning director, city attorney and former planning commission chair have all gone on the record to criticize and say is bad for the city.
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action has joined numerous other conservation organizations across the county in voting to officially oppose Measure A. I would certainly urge Carlsbad voters to vote no on this project.
If a reasonable doubt is what separates a person's innocence or guilt in a court of law, then the same principle must be applied here. Measure A is no longer a discussion about whether or not the plan can be improved upon with a tweak here or a compromise there. It's about whether or not the measure itself, which is on-line at the city of Carlsbad's website for all to see, should be passed by Carlsbad voters.
If there are components about the measure you like, but other components you may have doubts about or are not sure of – then vote NO on Measure A and send it back to the drawing board, this time with greater public participation, more sunlight, and more accountability for those who have been disingenuously selling a mall proposal as a means to protect open space in order to further economic ends.
By Tommy Hough
We've lost too many as it is lately, but as we lose our rock stars and our musical giants – the ones who gave us so much music and served as the soundtrack for so many watershed moments in our lives, whether at home with headphones or at a festival with 40,000 fans – we're reminded of our own mortality and how quickly our lives pass by.
Along with friends, family and loved ones, part of what we hold on to as the world moves from one day to the next is the cultural stream, where we find inspiration and kinship over movies, books, art and music. Along with travel, the arts inspire a renewal of our internal batteries and lust for life, and remind us that this is indeed a very big world with many wonderful places to experience and explore.
But we wouldn't be human if we didn't stop to acknowledge those we lose along the way – those who inspired us, and those whose journeys come to an end at the beginning or in the middle of our own. We can be happy that we shared time at all on earth with our heroes and creative luminaries, and we know the good stuff – movies, books, art and music – will be there for us tomorrow ready to inspire again. That is a gift no matter which side of the artistic spectrum you may be on.
Sadly, in my short time at 91X, we've lost Scott Weiland, Lemmy, John Bradbury, Natalie Cole and now David Bowie. With Bowie's death we're reminded that Lou Reed and Mick Ronson have also been gone for some time now too. We should be thankful we ever had any of them at all.
David Bowie moved from one phase of his career to another so quickly that his incarnations seemed to last only a year or two, sometimes only a matter of months. But throughout his creative career, every Bowie incarnation left another sub-genre of rock and roll behind for other artists to explore and realize. The volume of great David Bowie songs speak for themselves.
And while it's not unusual to hear music differently or pick new things out after the death of an artist, as I was playing my sets this morning – not just the Bowie tracks – I couldn't help but notice the man's enormous influence on a band here, or another angle on a song there. How can you avoid it?
Whether a hippie folkie, androgynous gender-bending singer-songwriter, androgynous gender-bending glam rocker, smooth purveyor of plastic soul, a decadent British expat living along the Berlin Wall, a wildly successful MTV popsmith or an artist who could credibly share a bill with Nine Inch Nails by playing Trent Reznor's own electronica game, Bowie conquered all while pioneering pools of rock and roll and enabling multiple musical careers along the way – Scott Weiland among them.
We wish the best for all of the friends and families of our extended Rock and Roll Family who've lost loved ones. We know this world can feel like a tougher place when we're no longer sharing the same air, water and space with our heroes on earth. Sudden losses like Bowie's death are even more shocking.
So we look back to the music, to the art, to whatever it is that captivated us – and we find something new that we never noticed before.
That's inspiration. That's art.
That's the gift.
Thank you for everything David Bowie, 1947 – 2016.
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host and media personality, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant and communications professional, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.