News from the City of Carlsbad | Nov. 16, 2023
This week gave us our first big rain of the season, and another storm is on the way. At the same time, expect to see more people on our roads as schools get out for Thanksgiving break Friday, and some people start their holiday travel. Read on for important traffic safety reminders plus other news of the week:
- Deciphering local economic and financial trends
- Grants ease cost of homelessness program
- Help shape new public art in the Barrio
- Reducing food waste over the holiday season
- This Friday, have Coffee with a Cop
- Enroll in winter recreation classes
- Reminder to turn off sprinklers when it rains
- Holiday city service schedule
Around Thanksgiving, expect busier roads
This holiday season, please give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go and remember to keep an eye out for more people on our roads, especially if it’s raining. I thought this was also a good time to share some data about the top causes of injury car collisions in Carlsbad over the past five years:
We have been talking a lot about the importance of slowing down as part of our Safer Streets Together campaign, but, as you can see, there are other easy ways to avoid accidents. So, please pay close attention on our roads, over the holidays and always.
Carlsbad recognized at Traffic Safety Summit Last week Carlsbad was invited to present information about e-bike safety and the Safer Streets campaign at a special statewide summit hosted by the California Office of Traffic Safety and California Highway Patrol.
- This two-day event was an opportunity to exchange information, share best practices and learn about the latest traffic safety trends.
- The data presented by state agencies showed that the traffic safety concerns we have here in Carlsbad are playing out in cities throughout California.
- Carlsbad was honored to be one of two agencies in the state to be recognized with a traffic safety excellence award during the summit.
- I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together over the past year and grateful to our City Council for taking a leadership position – and dedicating resources – to address traffic safety.
Safer together – As always, we really rely on each of you to do your part to keep our local streets safe. Here are some important reminders for being safe in rainy weather:
- Drive slowly when roads are wet and leave extra room between your car and the car ahead of you.
- Make sure your tires have enough tread and are properly inflated.
- Never attempt to cross a flooded area. Swiftly flowing water as shallow as 1 foot can easily sweep a car from the road.
And rain or no rain, here are some important things to keep in mind always:
- Eliminate distractions. Put your phone out of reach and lower the music so you can focus on the road.
- It’s getting dark out earlier. Wear bright clothing and reflective gear when you’re walking or biking at night, and make sure your family’s bikes have working front and rear lights.
- Talk to your family about the rules of the road, including rules for pedestrians and bicyclists and Carlsbad-specific e-bike rules.
- Stay alert for people backing out of driveways, pulling out of parking spots and people walking and biking.
Before you head out, remember to review our map of major city construction projects that could impact traffic along your route. We’ll be working through next Wednesday but off Thursday and Friday for the holiday.
Report on local economy and city finances
Some parts of Carlsbad’s economy are returning to pre-pandemic patterns, although it’s still too early to know what the new normal will ultimately be. That’s according to an economic and financial report on the first quarter of the fiscal year presented to the City Council Tuesday.
Economic vitality and fiscal health are two key priorities in the City Council’s 5-Year Strategic Plan. Given their importance, city staff provides comprehensive updates on both every three months.
The big picture
- Carlsbad has the fifth highest population in the region but the second highest gross regional product, or GRP.
- At $16.6 billion, Carlsbad’s GRP is a result of the city’s diverse economy, including life sciences; information, communications and technologies; cleantech; sports innovation and design; and hospitality and tourism. (This article just came out yesterday highlighting one of our major video game companies.)
The end of “revenge travel?”
- Carlsbad consistently has the second highest transient occupancy tax revenue in the region, after San Diego. This is the money visitors pay when they stay in local hotels and short-term vacation rentals.
- “Revenge travel,” a term coined to explain pent up demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided record revenues in 2022 from transient occupancy tax.
- Visitor demand, however, appears to be leveling off. The average occupancy of hotel rooms over the most recent 12 months is 72.3%, which is slightly lower than 72.7% at this time last year.
Real estate outlook
- Office vacancy continues to inch up, now at 12.7%. Industry experts attribute this to companies with remote or hybrid workers not renewing their leases when they expire.
- On the other hand, Carlsbad could benefit from employers who are seeking smaller or satellite offices closer to where employees live.
- Retail vacancy remains low, now at 5.4%. The low availability of retail space is driving up costs for businesses.
- Finally, despite elevated interest rates, home values in Carlsbad have begun to rise again. The current median home price in Carlsbad is $1.45 million.
One reason we monitor the economy so closely is because it directly affects the tax revenue we use to pay for day-to-day city services. The city’s finance team reported that after the first three months of the fiscal year, spending is on track with projections, with about 70% of the annual budget remaining. Revenues are also tracking with projections, although if you look at the numbers, they might seem low. That’s because property tax revenue comes in twice a year, so it doesn’t show up in the first quarterly report. READ THE FULL REPORT
Grants ease city cost to reduce homelessness
On Tuesday city staff presented the City Council with a proposed funding strategy for next fiscal year’s implementation of our Homelessness Action Plan.
- By securing additional grants, the city will save $145,806 in general fund spending compared to this year’s budget and nearly $300,000 from what was budgeted two years ago.
- The city’s general fund, which pays for most day-to-day city services, is growing at a slower rate than the projected cost to run the city.
- The City Council has challenged staff to find new ways to reduce ongoing spending from the general fund. Grants are one way to do this.
In all, staff have secured more than $1 million in new grant funding to combat homelessness. This includes a state grant that will help address homeless encampments in the downtown Village area. The funding plan will be included with the rest of next year’s budget when it is presented to the City Council in the spring.
Staff also presented its annual report on what has been accomplished from the Homelessness Action Plan over the past fiscal year (July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023). Here are some highlights when comparing data to the same period for fiscal year 2021-22:
- 25% decrease in the number of people experiencing homelessness
- 23% decline in dispatched police calls related to homelessness
- 73% reduction in veteran households experiencing homelessness
- 3% increase in the number of people transitioned into permanent housing
- 36 people helped through the city’s new Employment & Benefits Program
2 projects, 3 ways to help shape new public art in the Barrio
New public art is planned for Carlsbad’s Barrio and surrounding area, and the city’s Cultural Arts Office is kicking off the process by asking the community for their input on how this new art can best reflect the neighborhood’s identity and heritage.
2 projects Two projects are getting underway:
- Art that will go in the middle of a new traffic circle at the intersection of Pine Avenue and Harding Street
- Art at the Chestnut I-5 underpass
There are three opportunities to get involved at this stage of the process:
- 1. Attend the Barrio Traffic Circle Public Art workshop – Wednesday, Dec. 6- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Carlsbad Senior Center 799 Pine Ave.
- 2. Apply to serve on a Public Art Advisory Subcommittee for the Barrio Traffic Circle public art
- 3. Apply to serve on a Public Art Advisory Subcommittee for the Chestnut underpass public art
The city’s Art in Public Places Program outlines the public art development process, which includes a Public Art Advisory Subcommittee to review proposals from artists and ultimately vote to select the chosen artist.
You don’t need to be an art expert to serve on the committee.
- You just need knowledge of the neighborhoods involved and an interest in shaping these future public art projects.
- It’s a short commitment, just two meetings between January and March 2024, but an opportunity to help shape something that will be enjoyed for generations.
- Applications can be completed online. Deadline to apply is Dec. 8.
Reducing food waste this holiday season
As you’re out shopping for Thanksgiving meals, keep in mind that food waste increases by more than 25% during the holiday season. When that food waste decomposes in landfills, it emits greenhouse gases.
Diverting food from ending up in landfills is part of the city’s overall commitment to environmental sustainability, one of our core community values in Carlsbad and an important part of the City Council’s 5-Year Strategic Plan.
Here are some easy ways to reduce waste during the holidays:
- Plan ahead. Make a grocery list and reconfirm your guest list before shopping. Coordinate dishes with family and guests.
- Save scraps. Freeze scraps like vegetable peelings and meat trimmings for savory broths, hearty soups or future recipes.
- Share and reuse leftovers. Send party leftovers home with guests or freeze leftovers for future use.
- Compost. Any remaining food scraps that you can’t use should be placed in your green compost cart. That does not include fats, oils and grease, which are a whole different story …
Disposing of cooking fats, oil and grease
Fats, oil and grease play a role in many holiday recipes, but they can really do a number on your pipes. In some cases, they can block sewer lines and cause overflows into your property, your neighborhood and the ocean.
Follow these tips to avoid holiday plumbing disasters and help protect our environment, too:
- Never put fats, oils or grease down your drain. That includes cooking oils, shortening, dairy products, sauces and salad dressings.
- Use your garbage disposal sparingly.
- Scrape oil and grease into the trash, NOT into your green compost bin.
- Do not rely on grease-cutting detergents or hot water to wash away grease.
- Wipe cooking pan residue with a paper towel and throw it in the trash.
Carlsbad residents can pick up a used oil recovery kit and drop off filled containers at the Palomar Transfer Station. Residents can also call Republic at 760-332-6464 to schedule a pickup. The kits have a 1-gallon capacity and a watertight lid.
Palomar Transfer Station – 5960 El Camino Real-• Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. LEARN MORE
This Friday, have Coffee with a Cop
Get to know Carlsbad police officers over a cup of coffee at our next Coffee with a Cop event:
Coffee with a Cop on Friday, Nov. 17 -8 to 10 a.m. Cafe Elysa 3076 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad
These informal events are meant to provide an opportunity for community members to meet local officers and build relationships that help keep our community safe.
Parking is limited, so you may need to park nearby and walk to the event.
Enroll in winter recreation classes
Registration started this week for winter recreation classes, and you can see what’s offered in our Winter Community Services Guide. Some highlights include:
- NEW pickleball lessons
- Babysitting certification for teens and tweens
- Painting and ceramics
- Martial arts
- Friday night hoops
- Adult sports leagues
Once you decide, you can sign up online. (BTW, the city’s many online services are just one of the reasons we were recently named the #1 Digital City for our population category by the Center for Digital Government.)
Save water and money
Don’t forget to turn off your automatic irrigation this week, and you can leave it off for a good two weeks due to the rain. This is an easy way to save our precious water resources while also saving some money on your water bill.
While you’re at it, consider double checking your settings to make sure you’re not overwatering during these cooler winter months. Not sure how? Most companies have user manuals for their systems online going back several years.
- Set your timer to water in the morning or evening hours to reduce evaporation.
- Consider running two short cycles instead of one longer one. This helps reduce the chance of runoff.
Next week’s schedule
No City Council meeting next week. Here’s the full schedule of city services for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
And I’ll be back a day early, on Wednesday, next week with more updates from around Carlsbad.
Until then, please stay safe, be kind to one another and, as always, #CareforCarlsbad.
Scott Chadwick, City Manager
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