The City of Carlsbad just released the final draft and environmental analysis of its Trails Master Plan, a blueprint for how city trails will be developed and managed in the future. The public can provide comments on these documents through May 5.
At a Glance
The City of Carlsbad oversees a 50-plus mile trails system
The Trails Master Plan will help ensure the city makes the most of its current trails and takes advantage of opportunities to expand the system
It was developed over the past three years with input from the community, natural resource agencies and others interested in trails and open space
The City of Carlsbad Trails Master Plan provides a framework for the city’s comprehensive trail system with the goals of:
Connecting people to nature
Making it easy to get around town on foot and by bicycle
Connecting to regional trails and trails in neighboring cities
Preserving natural resources
Promoting health and wellness
Furthering the goals and policies in the city’s General Plan
About the Plan
The master plan was developed based on public input gathered during public meetings, an online survey and feedback on draft documents. Based on this input, city staff focused the plan on the following objectives:
Create a connected and complete trail system
Identify existing trails and future trail development opportunities
Accommodate a variety of trail users in safe and environmentally sensitive manner
Increase recreational opportunities
Integrate transportation as part of the trail system (ability to get to shops and restaurants, run errands, etc.)
Some of the key themes from the public included:
Make the city more “walkable”
Make the city more pedestrian friendly in general, including improving the safety and overall experience walking in neighborhoods, especially safe routes to schools. Many of these comments are being addressed by the city’s transportation planners, but opportunities to modify the trails system to meet these goals have been included in the Trails Master Plan.
Balance access to nature with the need to protect nature
Community members want as much access to natural open spaces as possible but realize that in some cases open space must be kept off limits to protect sensitive plant and animal species. The Trails Master Plan attempts to strike the right balance between these two goals
Connect trails to each other and develop new ones
Many people would like to see more connections between existing trails and open spaces throughout the city. Some support a wider variety of uses in open spaces, such as biking or dog walking. A number of comments focused on expanding opportunities for mountain biking.
Community members said they’d like to see more amenities including trash cans, pet waste receptacles and bathrooms. Other comments identified the desire to make trails safer through increased lighting and increased enforcement.
Suggestions not Incorporated
The city was not able to incorporate all the suggestions resulting from the public outreach process, including:
Land the city does not control: Several suggestions were related to land not owned or controlled by the city. In these cases, city staff can encourage property owners to consider the suggestions, but the ultimate decision is theirs.
Protecting habitat: Some ideas could not be included because of concerns about habitat protection.
Changing trail uses: Some members of the public asked the city to consider single track trails, such as trails just for biking or hiking, and trails where dogs are not allowed. City staff decided to keep trails open for multiple users to maximize the benefits of the trails system. Equestrian use is the exception, and is only allowed on two trail segments in southeast Carlsbad where they connect to Encinitas trails system.
The first draft of the Trails Master Plan was released for public review in 2015. City staff incorporated public input and then studied the potential environmental impacts of the plan according to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. This study resulted in a report called a “Mitigated Negative Declaration,” which summarizes the potential environmental effects of implementing the plan and how they will be mitigated. Certain projects within the plan will undergo additional environmental study prior to construction.
The plan and the report will then go before the City of Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Commission for review, and Planning Commission to make a recommendation to approve the General Plan Amendment, and then to the City Council for final approval.
Comments can be submitted by mail or email by 5 p.m. on May 5, 2017.