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Calendar >  Carlsbad City Manager

Carlsbad City Manager

By   /  September 28, 2023  /  No Comments

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News from the City of Carlsbad | Sept. 28, 2023

This week the City Council approved a new parks and recreation plan that will bring more pickleball courts to Carlsbad plus new parks and community programs. I’ll tell you more about these investments plus other news of the week in today’s recap:

  • Survey says: Carlsbad loves our parks
  • Using surplus funds to safeguard the city’s financial health
  • Blue envelope program comes to Carlsbad
  • Prevent runoff to keep beaches clean
  • Keeping students safe on our roads
  • High school students can learn leadership skills
  • Library program delivers for homebound residents
  • Dual Visions exhibition opens at Cannon Art Gallery
  • Be ready for a test of the National Emergency Alert System
  • Get involved 

Parks get high marks, more on the way (+ pickleball!)

The Carlsbad City Council adopted an updated plan on Tuesday that will guide parks and recreation priorities through 2030 based on community feedback, industry trends, city demographics and other factors. The City Council also voted for staff to prioritize the development of additional pickleball courts in Carlsbad and to focus on building new courts, not converting existing tennis courts.

Under the new Parks & Recreation Department Master Plan, the city will continue major investments initiated under the previous master plan, approved in 2015.

  • This includes completing Carlsbad’s newest and largest park to date, Veterans Memorial Park, near the corner of Cannon Road and Faraday Avenue.
  • At 94 acres, it’s more than twice as big as Carlsbad’s next largest park, Poinsettia Community Park, and is expected to be completed by 2026.

The next park after that will be Robertson Ranch Park at the corner of Cannon and El Camino Real. The city just started the planning process, which began with getting initial input from the community on the park’s design. Conceptual designs should be ready for review later this year.

What we heard

  • Thousands of community members provided input on the department’s master plan update through community meetings and a scientific survey.
  • The survey found that most residents say their need for parks is being met, and 9 out of 10 rate the condition of parks, fields and facilities as good or excellent.
  • Residents said more shade, lighting and family picnic areas would make Carlsbad parks even better.
  • After community and neighborhood parks, the next most important types of parks and facilities were off-leash dog parks, outdoor swimming pools and outdoor pickleball courts.

What’s been done already

Under the previous Parks & Recreation Department Master Plan, the city completed several new and expanded parks and recreation projects, representing a total investment of more than $25 million, including:

  • The city’s first outdoor pickleball courts, an arena sports field, and an expanded playground at Poinsettia Community Park
  • A new dog park, along with an added restroom at Poinsettia Community Park
  • A new community center, ornamental gardens and community garden at Pine Avenue Community Park
  • An adult fitness circuit and picnic areas at Calavera Hills Community Park
  • A gathering space with a stage, picnic areas, catering facilities and restrooms at Aviara Community Park
  • During this time, the city also oversaw the development of a new neighborhood park at the site of the former Buena Vista Reservoir in northern Carlsbad
  • A major renovation of the Monroe Street Pool, which would double the number of swimming lanes, is currently being designed
  • A new community garden at Stagecoach Park is expected to be completed by mid-summer 2024

You can read the plan to learn more or check out this summary on the city’s website.

Surplus invested for financial health

On Tuesday, the City Council approved investing unspent money from last year’s budget to reduce future pension payments, replenish self-insurance funds, and pay for public safety equipment, additional school crossing guards, trails maintenance, art programs and other one-time costs not included in this year’s city budget.

  • Many cities end the fiscal year on June 30 with surplus funds.
  • Carlsbad’s surplus is due in part to stronger than anticipated revenues from sales tax, property tax and the taxes visitors pay when they stay at local hotels and short-term vacation rentals. 
  • Some city positions remained vacant for a period of time after an employee left, which saved money, and staff also found ways to reduce spending overall.

Sound policies pay off

The City Council has a policy about how to invest surplus funds, starting with making sure the city’s rainy day fund, the “general fund reserve,” has at least the equivalent of 40% of the general fund operating budget on hand for emergencies.

  • Going into Tuesday, Carlsbad’s general fund reserve had the equivalent of 60% of the annual general fund operating budget, so no additional surplus funds were needed.
  • Other priorities are to pay down pension debt and replenish various city funds, such as the workers compensation and risk management funds.

Many cities have seen their pension debts go up significantly this year because investment returns over COVID were lower than projected, and there is a delay in when these costs hit.

  • Instead of making a payment directly to the state’s retirement system, CalPERS, the City Council decided to put money aside in a new trust account that allows the city to control how the money is invested.
  • This move is expected to save the city about $8 million over the next five years.

The City Council approved remaining surplus funds to be spent on one-time costs associated with a variety of programs, including traffic safety, crime prevention, emergency medical response, public art, trails and studies to determine future water and wastewater infrastructure needs.

One-time vs. ongoing spending

Under the City Council’s financial management policies, surplus funds cannot be spent to fund ongoing day to day city services.

  • That’s because the city doesn’t always know how much money it may have at the end of a budget year. Instead, ongoing city operations are funded mostly by tax revenues and the fees paid for utility services.
  • The city’s budget is considered balanced when projected spending is at or below projected revenues.

Depending on the assumptions used, the city’s financial forecast for the next several years shows a structural deficit, where the money needed to fund city services at their current levels is more than projected revenues that pay for those services. The last two budget years, all city departments were asked to reduce ongoing spending to help close this future gap.

Because of the strength of current revenues and recent cost-cutting measures, the city has some time to develop a long-term strategy to maintain a balanced budget. LEARN MORE

Helping police serve those who may need extra assistance

Starting next month, the Carlsbad Police Department will join law enforcement agencies throughout the region in the Blue Envelope Program.

The program helps law enforcement agencies and community organizations better understand and assist members of the public with a condition or disability that may affect communication or require special accommodations.

Here’s how it works:

  • People can display one of several items that shows the blue envelope logo.
  • This allows the police officer who sees the blue envelope logo to know someone has a condition or disability requiring additional accommodations or assistance during a service call or emergency.
  • The envelopes have space for users to add details that may be helpful for officers.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this program, please stop by our Police & Fire Headquarters starting Oct. 16 to pick up your supplies.

Participation is free and voluntary. LEARN MORE

You can help keep our ocean and lagoons clean

Here in Carlsbad, we cherish our beautiful outdoor spaces, including our lagoons and beaches, which are consistently rated among the cleanest in the county.

Storm Water Awareness Week began Monday, so now’s the perfect time to share tips on how we can help keep our beaches and waterways clean.

I am sure no Carlsbad resident would head down to the beach and pour a gallon of weed killer into the ocean, but if you aren’t caring for your yard in an environmentally friendly way, the effect could be the same. That’s because excess water from irrigation or rain carries chemicals and other pollutants directly from our yards into the storm drain system and into our lagoons and ocean.

The best solution is preventing runoff from getting to the street to begin with:

  • Check for runoff in your yard
  • Make sure sprinklers are aligned
  • Don’t overwater your yard
  • Use nontoxic products
  • Sweep instead of hosing down your driveway
  • Wash your car in your front yard (where water can soak back into the drain) or go to a car wash

If you notice water coming from a neighbor’s home, please let them know or report it to us anonymously, and we’ll let them know. Often sprinklers run when people are asleep or away from home, so an extra set of eyes can help.

Storm water hotline 442-339-2799 stormwater@carlsbadca.gov

Keeping students safe on our roadsPlease use extra caution next Wednesday, Oct. 4, when schools are celebrating National Walk and Roll to School Day. Our emergency proclamation on traffic safety may have ended, but our mission to keep everyone safe on our streets remains as strong as ever.

Next week’s event involves communities from across the country “walking and rolling” to school on bikes, e-bikes, scooters and more, to promote healthy lifestyles and environmental sustainability.

Upcoming safety classes for students The Carlsbad Police Department will present its very popular safety classes three Saturdays this fall: Oct. 7, Nov. 4 and Dec. 9.
This training is currently only open to students at schools in Carlsbad. Space is limited, so make sure to sign up in advance. For more safety tips, visit carlsbadca.gov/saferstreets.

High school students can learn leadership skills

Speaking of students, if you know a high school student who wants to develop strong leadership skills, the City of Carlsbad has a great program coming up.

  • The Carlsbad Student Leader Academy is an interactive program open to high school students living in Carlsbad and/or students who live in another city and currently attending school in Carlsbad.
  • Students will learn how to be leaders, self-starters and change makers in their community.
  • The academy is a collaboration between the City of Carlsbad, Carlsbad High School and The YouSchool, a local nonprofit (students from all high schools are welcome).
  • Registration is open now.

Carlsbad Leadership Academy – Saturday, Oct. 7 and Oct. 14 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Pine Community Center, Activity Room 108, 3209 Harding St. LEARN MORE

Library program delivers for homebound residents

One of the things I love about Carlsbad is the way our community takes care of each other. A great example of that is our Library Homebound Program, in which trained volunteers deliver library materials to people who can’t leave their homes.

The program is available to Carlsbad residents with library cards who are homebound because they have a disability, had to give up their driver’s license due to age or fit other criteria. Anything from books to audiobooks to CDs and movies are handpicked and delivered to each person based on their likes or what they have requested.

One of the program’s clients, Corie Starkweather, recently celebrated her 97th birthday and told our library team, “Your program has been so important to me – I love your volunteers AND the books!”

Happy belated birthday, Corie! Thank you for your kind words.

Learn more about the program, including how to sign up or become a volunteer, on the city’s website. 

New art exhibit opens this weekend

If you love art or are just looking for something fun to do this weekend, stop by the city’s latest exhibition, Dual Visions, opening Saturday at the Cannon Art Gallery. This exhibit features colorful, abstract pieces by artists Sijia Chen and Kelsey Overstreet in a variety of media.

Gallery hours Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday: Noon to 7 p.m.
You’re also invited to meet the artists and connect with other art lovers at a reception on Oct. 14. The free event will include light refreshments and live music by Left Coast Quintet, a San Diego wind ensemble.

Gallery hours

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: Noon to 5 p.m. & Wednesday: Noon to 7 p.m.

You’re also invited to meet the artists and connect with other art lovers at a reception on Oct. 14. The free event will include light refreshments and live music by Left Coast Quintet, a San Diego wind ensemble.

Dual Visions artist reception, Saturday, Oct. 14TH; 5 to 7 p.m.- Cannon Art Gallery -1775 Dove Lane

LEARN MORE

Be ready for a test of the National Emergency Alert System

This week closes out National Preparedness Month, but emergency preparedness is something we need to practice all year long. On Wednesday, Oct. 4, FEMA will conduct a nationwide test of its Emergency Alert System that will include an alert sent to all cell phones.

It’s only the second time a nationwide test has been sent this way, so it might catch you by surprise. Here’s what to expect:

  • The alert will go out at 11:20 a.m. PST, with a message that says “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
  • It will have a unique tone and vibration, to help ensure it’s accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
  • A similar message lasting one minute will be broadcast via radio and television

LEARN MORE

Get involved: upcoming meetings

The next City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Oct. 10, starting at 5 p.m. in the City Council Chamber. Meanwhile, these city commissions are meeting next week:

I want to wrap up by thanking everyone who weighed in on our Parks & Recreation Department Master Plan. We started the process right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, then had to hit the pause button for over a year. In 2021, we regrouped, got additional input to see if opinions about parks and recreation had changed after COVID, and then got to work matching up community priorities, demographics, resources and industry trends to create a road map that will guide investments through 2030.

I look forward to sharing next steps on all of our future parks projects and expanded recreational offerings. In the meantime, you can learn about and register for a wide variety of classes, sports leagues and more today through our online system.

Scott Chadwick ,City Manager

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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 Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 www.carlsbadca.gov

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