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Calendar >  Carlsbad City Manager

Carlsbad City Manager

By   /  January 20, 2022  /  No Comments

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Carlsbad, CA This week I’ll be sharing the latest on COVID-19, including new ways to get free tests, along with these city updates: 

  • Connecting Carlsbad to the coast
  • Power plant demo update
  • Carlsbad in 5 years: workshop next week
  • Federal grants to help those with low incomes
  • Upcoming public meetings
  • What to do during a tsunami advisory

COVID-19 updateThis week the federal government launched a new website where you can order four rapid COVID-19 test kits to be shipped to your home free of charge. The four tests are for each household, not each person in the household, and will ship later this month. Here are four other options for getting tests:

  1. Since Jan. 15, private health insurers have been required to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests for members, by providing them free of charge or reimbursement. Check with your insurance provider to see how they are managing this.
  2. The state lists several testing locations in Carlsbad.
  3. The county is still operating free testing sites, with the closest ones to Carlsbad being in Oceanside, San Marcos and Escondido. You can get more information on the county’s website.
  4. Finally, local pharmacies also provide testing, and each has its own system for making an appointment

 Health officials are asking people not to visit urgent care or hospital emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing. Keeping our community safeYou might have read about hospitals in the southern part of San Diego County being overloaded with patients and needing to activate emergency plans. Wait times for treatment are longer than ever, and ambulances spend hours waiting to unload patients. This is in part due to staffing shortages and in part due to the high number of COVID-19 cases overall. I received an update yesterday from City of Carlsbad Fire Chief Mike Calderwood on how things look up here in the north and how the city is responding.

  • Early in the pandemic (in fact, before it had even become a pandemic) the Fire Department ran through potential scenarios and how we would respond.
  • Because of this, they ordered personal protective equipment long before there was a run on supplies.
  • They played an active role in involving paramedics in the regionwide Operation Collaboration to administer vaccines.
  • Our senior level Fire Department personnel created contingency plans for interruptions in health care delivery, like what we are seeing now. 

 Wall timeChief Calderwood said ambulances across the county transporting patients to the various emergency departments have waited at the entrance with patients on gurneys more than five hours. These wait times are referred to as “wall time” because paramedics and EMTs line up along the wall with their patients. When this happens, the ambulances are tied up at the hospital and not available to respond to the next call. In addition to working with the county and local hospitals to find solutions to the wall time issue, the Carlsbad Fire Department’s early planning is paying off to ensure those who call for emergency medical care in Carlsbad will receive it in a timely manner. Here are the details:

  • On Jan. 6, the two additional ambulances approved by the City Council were put into service. These two ambulances add depth to the delivery system at a time when it is desperately needed. 
  • The addition of part-time EMTs had added flexibility when critical staffing shortages are reached as well as during peak hours when ambulance surge capacity is needed.
  • The city has partnered with other North County fire agencies in hiring a medical director position in the regional dispatch center, which enables us to create programs offering a higher level of care and do so more quickly.
  • One example of utilizing a medical director position is when we collaborated with other fire agencies in the North County to create a pandemic response plan. Under this plan, when calls come into the dispatch center, fewer resources may be sent based on the medical need. This plan will only be activated when the emergency response system reaches a stress point that will negatively affect overall response times.
  • Another program directly relates to wall time by allowing unit-to-unit transfer of patients at a hospital’s entrance when wait times reach a level that causes ambulances to be unavailable for new calls.
  • If all of these measures are taken, and the system still shows a negative impact to emergency medical response, fire crews will be authorized to use private EMT ambulances for the least severe medical calls that do not require advance life support interventions.

 To date, all Carlsbad Fire Department fire stations and emergency response resources remain open and in service. By having these contingency measures in place, we can continue providing pre-hospital emergency medical services at normal levels.  I would like to personally thank our Fire Department for its foresight and dedication to excellence. I also would like to thank our City Council, which approved a significant investment in our fire and emergency medical services in this year’s budget, including two new ambulances and crews. 

Case data New cases were over 10,000 again yesterday in San Diego County, a number unheard of just a few weeks ago. But symptoms are being described as less severe, so case numbers alone are no longer seen as the best measure. When looking at the county’s triggers, hospitalizations increased almost 17%, and ICU capacity is right at the 20% trigger.

Carlsbad’s case rate is 144 per 100,000, lower than the county average of 196. In terms of active COVID-19 cases in Carlsbad, we had another increase this week, but nothing near the increases of the past two weeks.

Here is a link to the latest COVID-19 Watch from the county.

What’s next?I am reading lots of theories about what is to come. I recently shared that UCSD’s modeling had predicted San Diego County would reach its peak of new cases yesterday. We will be keeping a close eye on that. In the meantime, please continue to do your part to limit the spread of new cases: 

  • Wear a mask when inside and with people outside your own household.
  • Consider upgrading your mask from cloth to a surgical mask (You can get up to three free N95 masks at pharmacies and community health centers starting in the coming weeks. We are waiting for more details on that federal program.)
  • Get up to date on all vaccines recommended for your age and health conditions.
  • If you feel ill or think you may have COVID-19, stay home and away from others.

Connecting our community to the coastWhat if 60 acres of coastal land were suddenly available for your enjoyment? What would you want to do there? How would you design this space to make Carlsbad’s coastline even more amazing? Believe it or not, we actually have this opportunity. When the city’s General Plan was approved in 2015, it outlined guiding principles for the south Carlsbad coastline (from around Cannon Road south) and policies for redesigning Carlsbad Boulevard in this area. The long and the short of it is this:

  • South Carlsbad Boulevard was built before we had I-5.
  • That’s why it’s a relatively wide, fast-moving road.
  • The General Plan calls for turning the three miles in the south into a “coastal street” where people can slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of the area, in a car, on a bike or walking.

 By getting rid of the wide medians and moving southbound traffic to the east, about 60 acres of city owned land can be used for things the community would enjoy doing along the coast. To put this in perspective:

  • Our largest city park (Poinsettia Community Park) is 42 acres.
  • That popular park at Pine Avenue and Carlsbad Boulevard is less than an acre.

 This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine our coastline. Please answer some questions through this online survey and consider attending an upcoming workshop to share your ideas. More info

Demolition of power plantSpeaking of coastal land, the demolition of the Encina Power Station should be completed by July, according to the property owner NRG. That’s a big milestone in the future of Carlsbad’s coastline,but there’s still a long road ahead in terms of what comes next for the property.

  • Demolition refers just to the above-ground structures. Other work is needed before the site could be reused.
  • NRG has agreed to work with the community and the city on a plan for the future use of the land.
  • The city’s General Plan calls for a mix of open space, lagoon access and visitor-serving commercial uses on the site.
  • Since the property is along the coast, any use must be approved by the California Coastal Commission, which has a goal of “maximizing public access to the coast.”

Applications available for community grantsIn a few months, the Carlsbad City Council will decide how to distribute an estimated $527,154 in federal grants for community projects that help people with low incomes.

  • The federal program, called Community Development Block Grant, is run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • The program distributes money to eligible cities and counties so they can improve life for people and areas with lower incomes.
  • The City Council set priorities for how to spend the money within the guidelines for the program. In recent years, reducing and preventing homelessness has been a major focus.
  • In Carlsbad, social service organizations apply for the grants and a citizens advisory committee makes recommendations to the Carlsbad City Council.
  • Applications for the grants are now available on the city’s website and are due by Feb. 21.
  • The City Council will make its final decision on the grant awards at a public hearing in May.

Learn more

What would make Carlsbad even better?On Feb. 1 we will hold a workshop to get input on the City Council’s five-year strategic plan. The workshop will be virtual and focus on economic vitality; sustainability and the environment; community character; quality of life and safety. In addition to the strategic plan, input at the workshop will help inform improvements along Carlsbad’s southern coast and the upcoming Climate Action Plan update. We have three ways to provide input on the strategic plan:

  • Have 5 minutes? Take an online survey to answer three open-ended questions based on themes from the Community Vision.
  • Have 15 minutes? Share your ideas on an online idea wall, where you can also see ideas that others have added and comment on them.
  • Have 90 minutes? Attend a virtual workshop with city staff on Feb. 1 where you can talk about your ideas and ask questions.

 We will report back to the City Council to share the public’s input at the City Council’s second strategic planning workshop March 16.

Get involved: Upcoming meetingsThe next Carlsbad City Council meeting will be at 3 p.m. Jan. 25. Here are some of the topics that are scheduled for discussion:

  • Funding for public art in the Chestnut Avenue Interstate 5 underpass, which is being enhanced as part of the freeway widening project 
  • A contract for work to improve traffic flow on northbound El Camino Real near Cannon Road
  • A city ordinance that would prohibit the unlawful possession of catalytic convertors 
  • The annual consideration of compensation for City Council members 
  • A report on the transition to Republic Services for the collection and recycling of solid waste
  • An update on the city’s efforts to improve transportation around Carlsbad in a car, on foot and by bike.
  • Appointing one member to the Parks & Recreation Commission

 The full agenda and staff reports will be published on the city’s website by 3 p.m. Friday. Remember, City Council meetings and city boards and commission meetings will continue to be virtual through mid-February, at which time the City Council will consider when to return to in-person meetings.   These city meetings are also happening next week.  

What Carlsbad should do during a tsunami advisoryThe recent holiday weekend got off to an active start when we were notified Saturday morning of a tsunami advisory in place for the entire West Coast. A tsunami is a series of traveling ocean waves of extremely long length generated by disturbances below or near the ocean floor. This has happened before, but it’s not common. Here are some things to know about tsunami notices:

  • Tsunamis here often show up as a series of surges that may look like small waves but can be much stronger than we’re used to.
  • Often the first surge is not the strongest. Surges can last for many hours and cause rip currents and other dangerous conditions.
  • Boats that are tied up to docks can get damaged from the surges.

 Here are two good resources to learn more:ReadySanDiego.orgTsunami.gov The City of Carlsbad prepares for all kinds of emergencies and has several ways to notify residents:

  • Reverse 9-1-1 calls to affected areas (landlines are automatically part of the system, but you have to add your mobile devices and email addresses. Please do that now if you haven’t already)
  • Providing information to news stations
  • City social media and Nextdoor
  • The city’s website, which has an emergency banner that can be activated at the top
During evacuations, our police use loudspeakers in affected neighborhoods and, if possible, go door to door to make sure everyone knows what to do
So, today we began with public safety and are ending there too. Keeping our community safe is the most important thing a city does, whether facing a public health emergency or a natural disaster. The very best way to keep our community safe is by working together. Thank you for taking the time to stay informed about your city! 

I’ll be back next week with more updates.

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City of Carlsbad | 1200 Carlsbad Village DriveCarlsbad, CA 92008

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