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Calendar >  Carlsbad City Manager

Carlsbad City Manager

By   /  September 15, 2023  /  No Comments

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News from the City of Carlsbad | Sept. 14, 2023

Work continues this week on major east-west streets, sealing cracks, rolling out a fresh smooth surface and changing the lane striping to encourage slower speeds. Details on when and where this work is happening plus these updates this week:

  • New tool will help manage pension costs
  • Making new buildings more energy efficient
  • City app gets new features
  • Organics recycling comes full circle in your garden
  • Fire Explorer program
  • Free movies coming to Dove Library
  • Get involved: Upcoming meetings

Safer streets through restriping

I often hear from residents who say they can tell when they cross over into Carlsbad because our roads are so smooth. We certainly take pride in keeping our streets well-maintained, but aside from a more comfortable ride, resurfacing and restriping roads helps encourage safer use of our streets too.

  • The work on major east-west roadways is one of dozens of projects approved or expedited by the City Council during our traffic safety emergency.
  • Speeding is the number one cause of injury collisions in Carlsbad.
  • Research shows that narrowing vehicle lanes causes drivers to slow dow

This week and for the next several weeks, crews are working on Carlsbad Village Drive, from just east of the I-5 to College Boulevard and on Tamarack from Highland Drive east to Carlsbad Village Drive. Please keep an eye out for workers and look for digital message boards alerting you to potential delays.

Sign up to get updates about this and other traffic safety projects. 

New tool will help manage pension costs

One of the main goals in the City Council’s 5-Year Strategic Plan is organizational excellence and fiscal health. On Tuesday, the City Council approved a new tool to help manage pension costs, a major concern for most public agencies.

  • A state agency called CalPERS manages pension funds for most public agencies in California.
  • One of the reasons pension costs are difficult to manage is that they are subject to the ups and downs of CalPERS’ investment performance.
  • CalPERS sets the amount cities need to contribute each year based on how well investments have performed.
  • Even though the money CalPERS invests comes from cities and their employees, we don’t have a say in how the money is invested.

One way to gain more control over pension costs is to establish something called a “Section 115 Trust.” Under this program the city can direct money to this account that would otherwise have gone to CalPERS. Here’s how it works:

  • The city controls the contributions, withdrawals, investment strategy and risk level of assets in the trust.
  • Assets could be invested to complement CalPERS’ investment strategy, providing a more diversified portfolio overall.
  • Money from this trust account can be transferred to CalPERS at the city’s discretion to pay for future pension costs.
  • The trust would have a potential for higher investment returns than keeping the money in the city’s General Fund, which is invested very conservatively.
  • More than 300 cities, towns, counties and districts have established a trust, including multiple agencies within San Diego County.

Aside from two cities that borrowed money to pay down their pension debts, Carlsbad had one of the best-funded pension plans of any city in San Diego County coming into this fiscal year. That’s in large part due to a number of reforms passed by the City Council dating back to 2011, when Carlsbad became one of the first in the region to lower pension benefits for new hires.

Since then, the City Council has approved new pension funding policies and made extra payments to CalPERS to keep our pension debt as low as possible. These steps save us money in the long run and the Section 115 Trust will help smooth out big swings in our annual required payments.

If you are interested in learning more, here is a link to Tuesday’s discussion, including an excellent overview by our Finance Director (item 11).

Reducing greenhouse gases through energy efficiency

One of the ways the City Council fulfills its goal of environmental sustainability is by passing rules that go above and beyond what is required by the state or federal governments. These are called “reach codes” because they are “reaching” higher than just compliance with existing rules.

  • One reach code the City Council has considered is requiring new buildings to use electricity only instead of a combination of electricity and natural gas.
  • On Tuesday, the City Council discussed options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings in light of a recent court ruling that is causing electric-only rules to be put on hold in cities that have already passed them.
  • Staff will continue to closely monitor developments to the legal challenge of electric-only buildings and future changes to the state’s green building code.

You can learn more about this complex topic by watching the staff presentation from Tuesday’s meeting (item 12). And, if you’re curious about why people are moving toward electricity over natural gas, here is a site that explains it and steps you can take on your own to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your home.

Carlsbad Connects app gets new features

For the past few years, our Carlsbad Connects App has provided an easy way for residents to report things that need attention, like replacing a burned out streetlight or cleaning up graffiti.

Now, we’ve added 20 new types of requests you can tell us about, including drainage or erosion problems, issues with short-term vacation rentals and junk piling up on private property.

  • Launch the free app on your smartphone and follow the steps to fill in details, send us photos and even track the progress.
  • Some repairs can be completed the same day. The average turnaround time is about two weeks.
  • Earlier this year, I shared some data about how our community is using the app, and since then, more people than ever have downloaded it.
  • Through August, 1,738 community members have reported issues through the app, compared to 1,800 in all of 2022.

How to use the app

If you haven’t yet tried Carlsbad Connects, this short video shows how it works:

You can also find detailed step-by-step instructions on our website.
 
The app isn’t for everything. If you’re dealing with an emergency like a water main break, contact us by phone instead. LEARN MORE

Organics recycling comes full circle

If you love to garden or just want to give your plants a boost this fall, the City of Carlsbad now has compost and mulch available for pickup six days a week. There is no charge because this service is included in your trash fees. Let me explain…

When the city launched our organic waste recycling program, we started to generate compost and mulch that could be reused in our community. After being processed, the compost is delivered back to Carlsbad where it can be used by local residents. 

If you aren’t familiar with the benefits of compost and mulch, let me fill you in:

  • Compost feeds your plants by helping your soil retain moisture and nutrients.
  • Mulch helps conserve water, protects soil from erosion, blocks weeds and improves the look of your landscaping.
  • Composting organic materials like food waste also keeps it out of landfills, where it decomposes and produces methane gas. Methane gas is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide and harmful to the environment.
  • This is yet another program that supports environmental sustainability, one of five goals in the city’s 5-Year Strategic Plan.

Compost and mulch pickup

Monday through Saturday – 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Palomar Transfer Station, 5960 El Camino Real

Park at the office and call 760-603-0153 when you get there. It’s a self-service system with shovels on-site, so bring a container to fill up. Proof of Carlsbad residency is required.

To make organics recycling even easier, you can also pick up a green kitchen caddy at the Palomar Transfer station and find tips on composting on the city’s website and in this video. LEARN MORE

Up your gardening game

Speaking of gardening and environmental sustainability, the city’s Grow Your Garden program is a monthly event that lets you swap succulents, seeds, fruit, vegetables and herbs from your garden with your neighbors and learn new gardening techniques.

The next session is Sept. 23, and it’s all about tower gardens. Tower gardens grow vertically, just like it sounds, so they’re great for small spaces. They also use a growing technique called “aeroponics” that grows plants using only air and water, but requires much less water than soil-based gardens.

Grow Your Garden – Saturday, Sept. 23 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Cole Library, 1250 Carlsbad Village Drive

LEARN MORE

Help spread the word about Fire Explorer Program

If you know a young person interested in becoming a first responder, we have a great volunteer program to help them get started. Applications are now being accepted for our Fire Explorer Program, a fantastic way to learn what it’s like to work in the city’s Fire Department.

  • Teens and young adults 15-20 years old can go behind the scenes to learn about daily life and career opportunities in fire and Emergency Medical Services roles.
  • This volunteer program emphasizes character building, leadership, community service and physical fitness.
  • Explorers will ride along with Fire Department crews, engage in firefighting training scenarios, learn the proper use of fire equipment and more.

As National Preparedness Month continues, I can’t think of a better way to get involved. Applications are due by Sept. 18. LEARN MORE

Cinema Club returns to Dove Library

For any fellow film buffs out there, the fall season of our Cinema Club has just kicked off at the Dove Library. You can enjoy great movies for free every week through December.

  • Popular films — including Academy Award-winners, dramas, comedies and more — are screened twice on Wednesdays, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Independent and international films are screened twice on Fridays, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Seating is limited and is first come, first served. All films are free and the lineup is subject to change.
  • Take a look at the brochure for a complete listing and schedule.

Don’t forget that with your Carlsbad City Library card, you also have access to stream films online anytime using the Kanopy and Hoopla apps, or you can check out DVDs from any of our library locations. LEARN MORE

Get involved: Upcoming meetings

The next City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 26, starting at 5 p.m. in the City Council Chamber.

A link to the full agenda and staff reports will be available on the city’s website the Friday before the meeting. You can watch the meeting live on the website or on the city’s cable TV channel.

Four city commissions and committees are meeting next week:

Finally, before signing off, I wanted to make sure everyone saw that the FDA gave emergency use authorization on Monday for a new COVID-19 vaccine that targets the newer variants. Check the state’s COVID website for information or contact your health care provider for details.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back next Thursday with more updates.

Scott Chadwick, City Manager

Download our app today

CarlsbadConnects app is an easy way to report things that need repair or attention around town, like potholes, sidewalk cracks, traffic light outages, graffiti and code enforcement issues.

Carlsbad Connects

City of Carlsbad | 1200 Carlsbad Village DriveCarlsbad, CA 92008 www.carlsbadca.gov

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