By Tommy Hough
It's close in Carlsbad. A lot closer than everyone – especially the backers of Measure A – thought it was going to be.
Of 40,631 ballots mailed out for this special, one-issue election in Carlsbad, 21,923 have already been returned. To put that in perspective, with 62,197 total voters in Carlsbad, that's a 35.25 percent turnout – and election day isn't even until Tuesday.
The Los Angeles developer that's managed to buy his way into Carlsbad city hall thought his non-stop TV ads would make passing Measure A a cakewalk. By some estimates, he's already spent upwards of $10 million to convince you to let him build his mall where he wants it, without having to go through the same state-mandated environmental review every other building development in Carlsbad has to go through.
But the good news for Carlsbad is that elections aren't won by TV ads, and they're not won by outside money – they're won by votes cast by citizens who live in the community. And the citizens of Carlsbad have a chance to stop Measure A in its tracks, and keep a mall from being built right next to I-5, along land that was already set aside as open space in 2006.
The great thing about Measure A is if it doesn't pass – nothing happens.
Instead, there will be time to re-examine the need for a mall along Agua Hedionda Lagoon and Cannon Road at all. There will be time to re-consider the value of the open space around the lagoon that was already protected when Carlsbad voters opted to preserve it 10 years ago as Proposition D. There will be time for the developer to find another place to put his mall, so the rolling hills, strawberry fields and neighborhoods of Carlsbad aren't besieged by Disneyland levels of traffic day in, day out.
There will also be time for Carlsbad voters to re-consider those who represent them in elected office, and the specifics of the deal that enabled Measure A at all.
Carlsbad voters still have an opportunity to stop Measure A with their votes, but our SDCDEA allies in Carlsbad need help reaching voters in time – before the election on Tuesday. If you have time and can help support efforts to defeat Measure A, respond via this Survey Monkey link, or contact my friend Rebecca Taylor directly, who is helping lead the NO on A efforts for Citizens for North County. If you'd like to help with phone banking, recruiting volunteers, getting supporters to the polls or poll watching, call Rebecca at (850) 206-4043.
The Citizens for North County office is located at 2725 Jefferson Ave. in Carlsbad, on the second floor in suite seven. They're open every day between now and the election from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. All hands are on deck this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
At the end of the day, what matters are several questions which local news media hasn't always asked:
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action held a presentation on Measure A in January at the Carlsbad City Library, and three area residents spoke about their concerns with Measure A: Kevin Johnson, Bridget Larsen Wright and Cori Schumacher. Spend some time with their remarks (videos of their presentations are linked by name), and share them with friends and family. Hopefully these will answer some of your lingering questions about Measure A.
If you're undecided, or if you need more information about what exactly Measure A is going to do to the community, then hit pause and vote NO on A on Tuesday, and demand answers from your elected officials. It's your call – because like toothpaste from a tube, once the concrete is poured, it's too late.
Tommy Hough is a former San Diego broadcast personality, wilderness and parks advocate, California Democratic Party delegate, and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action. He was the endorsed Democratic candidate for San Diego City Council in District 6 in 2018.