Battle over Carlsbad strawberry fields moves to ballot box

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CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The contentious battle over the future of the Carlsbad strawberry fields will now be decided by the voters.

In a $650,000 special election set for Feb. 23, voters will approve or reject an upscale mall proposed by Los Angeles developer Caruso Affiliated when they vote on Measure A.

Wednesday, the principal investor in the project, Rick Caruso, spoke to supporters of the plan.

“It’s going to bring millions of tax dollars to the Carlsbad city," Caruso said. "It will support teachers firefighters and police what’s not to like?”

Caruso said the project provides open space, and it keeps the strawberry fields healthy and sustainable.

But the group opposing the development, Citizens for North County, have mounted a formidable attack, complaining traffic will snag the streets.

“Tourists will be coming to this community and the downtown shops will lose their business to this other mall,” said De’ Ann Weimer, a spokesperson for Citizens for North County.  “We have the advantage because we are neighbors who will be talking to neighbors."

Caruso Affiliated will be spending quite a bit on this election, but Westfield is also donating $75,000 to scuttle it’s potential mall rival.

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