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Calendar >  Carlsbad City Manager

Carlsbad City Manager

By   /  February 29, 2024  /  No Comments

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News from the City of Carlsbad | Feb. 29, 2024

Today, as we mark leap day 2024, I’ll fill you in how we’ve been making the most of our time at the city when it comes to our environment, water reliability, preserving community character and other issues important to the Carlsbad community.

  • City budget on track at mid-year, some economic uncertainty remains
  • Increasing local influence over airport issues
  • Preserving community character in the face of change
  • Under pressure: Maintaining our water supply
  • Annual meeting shares progress on habitat preservation
  • No rail service to San Diego this weekend
  • Tax deadline extended to June 17
  • Upcoming city meetings
  • A shout out to #TeamCarlsbad, one day early

Latest economic report has good news and some mixed messages – Halfway through the fiscal year, city revenues are up 8% over this time last year, and a recent report shows Carlsbad’s gross regional product increased 3% over the previous year, remaining the second highest in the region. At the same time, Carlsbad’s sales tax revenue is lower than the previous quarter, and hotel tax revenue is down 5% over this time last year, likely a sign of post-COVID travel demand easing.

The city uses a variety of data and models to forecast economic activity, which has a direct effect on city finances used to pay for local government services. By receiving quarterly updates, the City Council can closely track city spending and revenue trends to help inform its policy decisions.

Here’s what our city Finance Director Zach Korach had to say Tuesday:

“We are still feeling the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions plus significant inflation, both of which make it harder to accurately estimate how much things will cost in the future and how much revenue the city can expect to receive. When there is a high degree of economic uncertainty, we recommend a more cautious approach to city spending, which is reflected in the current year’s city budget.”

Over 80% of city revenue that funds day to day services like the police and fire departments, parks, recreation and libraries comes from three sources: property tax, sales tax, and the tax visitors pay when they stay in Carlsbad hotels and short-term vacation rentals. All three are influenced by the strength of the economy.

When it comes to sales tax, 70% of our revenue comes from three sources: car sales, restaurants and retail shops.

Fun fact: The city gets only a small portion of property and sales tax. Most of your property tax goes to fund schools, with some going to the county and special districts. Likewise, most of sales tax goes to the state, with some to the county.

City spending on track

The city’s Finance Department conducted a mid-year review of all department budgets to identify any new needs and potential areas of savings.

  • At this time, departments have spent about half of their annual budgets and project to end the fiscal year within their allocated funding.
  • City departments no longer receive an automatic year over year increase as they have in years past.
  • Because of this, overall department spending has increased at a lower rate than the rate of inflation for the past couple of years.

The City Council will consider next fiscal year’s preliminary budget at its May 21 meeting. That same week, on May 23, the city will host a community budget workshop for those interested in finding out more about city financials and what is being proposed next year.  LEARN MORE

City Council will explore options to increase local influence over future airport impacts -The Carlsbad City Council voted Tuesday to explore a series of recommendations from the community about ways to potentially increase the city’s influence over the local impacts of future airport changes. The County of San Diego owns and operates McLellan-Palomar Airport, although the airport property was annexed into city limits in 1978.

Many local, regional, state and federal government agencies play a role in airport operations:

  • Aircraft flight operations are regulated primarily by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board and Transportation Security Administration regulate safety and security measures.
  • The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, in its role as the region’s Airport Land Use Commission, develops Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans based on state law. These plans provide guidance on compatible land uses around regional airports and help protect the public against the noise and safety risks.
  • The county owns the airport and is in charge of operating the airport’s surface facilities and planning for its future needs.
  • The City of Carlsbad also plays a role, primarily through its local land use authority.

Citizens for a Friendly Airport is a local nonprofit group whose mission is to educate Carlsbad and surrounding communities about McClellan-Palomar Airport issues affecting the quality of life in the North County. The group recently asked the City Council to take several actions aimed at strengthening local influence over any future changes to the airport that could negatively affect our local residents. 

The group’s suggestions include making updates to the Zoning chapter of the city’s municipal code and the city’s General Plan to clarify issues related to the airport and resolve any perceived inconsistencies.

Tuesday’s City Council action authorizes city staff to analyze the group’s recommendations and provide a report to the City Council within the next 60 days. The City Council will consider next steps at that meeting.

This move follows other recent City Council actions to help address resident concerns about airport noise and other issues. LEARN MORE

Preserving community character in the face of change

About 13 years ago, the city worked with the community on a “visioning” project designed to get at the core values most important to our residents as they think about the future. Since then, we have checked with the community from time to time to make sure those values still ring true. They have held up well, even with all the changes we have gone through since the City Council first adopted the Carlsbad Community Vision in 2010.

At the top of the list is “Small town feel, beach community character and connectedness.”

When the City Council created Carlsbad’s first strategic plan, they started with the Community Vision. That’s why preserving Carlsbad’s unique community character is one of the main goals outlined in the plan.

Here is plan’s five-year vision for community character:

Even though the city has grown and changed, residents agree that it still has the small town beach community character and connectedness that made them want to live here in the first place. Diverse community members of all ages enjoy participating in the wide array of programs and events offered by the city, where they run into neighbors, meet new friends and, most importantly, feel welcome and included.

Some of the specific initiatives highlighted in our first annual progress report on the strategic plan, held at a City Council meeting Feb. 6, include:

  • Completed the foundational work that will inform the city’s next growth management plan
  • Completed objective design standards for multifamily housing throughout the city
  • Veterans Memorial Park is on track to open in 2026
  • A new community garden is scheduled to open this summer at Stagecoach Community Park
  • Projects are underway to increase lighting throughout the Village and Barrio

In addition to these initiatives, the plan emphasizes the importance of our day-to-day city services that bring people together and foster a strong sense of community, like parks, trails, library events, public art and more. The graphic below some only some of the many ways we foster connections among local residents:

The city is proud of its efforts to protect what makes Carlsbad special, but we also realize community character is ultimately defined by you, our residents. As we have seen with our recent traffic safety emergency and so many other examples, Carlsbad residents truly care about one another and make an effort to stay connected. This is a big part of the “small town feel” people love about Carlsbad.

You can read more about this goal in the city’s strategic plan and our first annual progress report.

Next week, I’ll focus on another of the key goals, “Prioritize the safety and well-being of our community.”

Under pressure: Maintaining our water supply .. Being brilliant at the basics is another key element of the City Council’s 5-Year Strategic Plan. It’s hard to think of something more basic than making sure when you turn on the faucet, water comes out, just like you expect.

Everyone knows about faucets and pipes, but there is another key piece of infrastructure that makes all this possible.

  • Throughout the city we have 70 pressure reducing stations.
  • This equipment makes sure water doesn’t enter your home at too high a pressure, which would be hard on your pipes and give you quite a surprise when you turn on the tap. 
  • These stations and their connected pipes are mostly underground.
  • Keeping them in good condition is crucial for a reliable and efficient drinking water system.

Our latest project focuses on four of these stations, including two on El Fuerte Street where a new station is now being built and another one is being improved. Next, construction is expected to start in April at our Melrose Drive and Poinsettia Lane station and in May at our station on Palomar Airport Road, east of College Boulevard.

This type of work is noisy and can affect traffic, so I appreciate everyone’s patience and caution when driving, biking or walking near the construction zones. Our construction map is updated with next week’s work areas, including this project and others, so you can know where construction is planned. (This doesn’t include all construction going on in Carlsbad, just some of the major city projects that could cause traffic delays.) LEARN MORE

Annual meeting shares progress on habitat preservation….World Wildlife Day is Sunday, but wildlife protection is something we practice all year long in Carlsbad. Environmental sustainability is one of the top goals in the City Council’s 5-year Strategic Plan, and we have more than 6,200 acres of open space preserves set aside to help sensitive plants and wildlife thrive.

City staff and our preserve stewards will present an annual report on the city’s habitat protection efforts during a virtual community meeting next Tuesday. This is a convenient way to learn more about Carlsbad’s nature preserves and how we take care of them. If you can’t watch the meeting live, a recording will be available on the city’s website.

Habitat Management Plan annual meeting – Tuesday, March 5 10 a.m. to noon

Virtual meeting details

Next week, I’ll share some highlights from the annual progress report, including how above-average rainfall has required increased efforts to treat and remove invasive non-native plants throughout the preserve system and why that matters.

Rail service suspended this weekend – The North County Transit District asked us to let you know that there will be no coastal rail service this weekend (March 2-3) between the Oceanside Transit Center and Santa Fe Depot in San Diego.

This kind of routine closure happens several times a year so crews can do maintenance and infrastructure work along the tracks. Service should resume by Monday morning. LEARN MORE

IRS extends tax deadline in San Diego County due to storm disaster

We’re also sharing some news from the Internal Revenue Service, which this week pushed back the tax deadline to June 17 for people and businesses in San Diego County. The entire county was recently declared a federal disaster area due to the severe storms and flooding that happened in late January. 

The IRS extension applies to everyone, whether your property sustained storm damage or not. That means this year, instead of the typical April 15 tax deadline, you have until June. LEARN MORE

City meetings next week -There is no City Council meeting next week, but some of our city boards and commissions are scheduled to meet, including the Traffic Safety & Mobility Commission on Monday. You can see the full meeting schedule on our city calendar and watch board and commission meetings livestreamed on the city’s website and on-demand afterward.

Carlsbad behind-the-scenes: Employee Appreciation Day Tomorrow is Employee Appreciation Day, so I wanted to conclude by sharing some behind the scenes footage of Team Carlsbad in action and my sincere appreciation for everything city staff do to provide a very high level of service to the community. If you happen to see our employees on the job around town, please give them a smile and a wave. Nothing makes our team happier than seeing our residents happy.

As we prepare for next weekend’s time change, sleep experts recommend adjusting your sleep schedule about 15 minutes a day leading up to Sunday. This helps your internal clock adjust. Next week I’ll share some recent traffic safety data that shows why that’s important.

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

Scott Chadwick, City Manager

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

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