Developer concedes defeat in Carlsbad lagoon election

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SAN DIEGO – A developer behind the proposed retail and dining center project along the shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon seemingly conceded election defeat Monday morning.

The “no” votes outnumbered the “yes” votes by 1556, with only 300 ballots remaining to be counted, the San Diego County of Registrar of Voters released Monday.

Rick Caruso, founder of Caruso Affiliated, released a statement Monday:

“I have called the leadership of the Citizens for North County and congratulated them on their hard fought campaign. 

This was a close election with a historically strong voter turnout on both sides.  Both sides share a common love for their Carlsbad community, a sentiment we share.

While we had hoped for a different outcome, we are proud of our effort, our plan, the integrity of our message, and we are thankful for the great friends and supporters we have made over the past four years.  We are very grateful for their support and hard work.” 

The margin favoring rejection of Carlsbad’s Measure A was close, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters reported.

Around 300 votes still needed to be counted, the “no” votes from Tuesday’s special election totaled 20,392, or 51.99 percent, compared with a “yes” vote of 18,806, or 48.01 percent.

Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said the remaining ballots will be counted Tuesday.

The development planned by Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated was opposed by environmental groups and mall owner Westfield, until recently the owner of a shopping center near Carlsbad’s northern city limits.

Caruso wanted to build on 15 percent of the 203-acre property and leave the rest as open space. A popular family-owned U-pick strawberry farm alongside Interstate 5 would be allowed to remain in operation.

The plans were approved last year by the Carlsbad City Council, but opponents — concerned about the size of the proposed buildings and worsening traffic congestion — collected enough petition signatures to force it to a public vote.