The South Carlsbad Coastline Project is stirring a lot of interest from people at the prospect of transforming 60 acres of city-owned land along the 101 Coast Highway. City planners held a virtual public meeting Monday to discuss the vision and hear ideas from people who live in Carlsbad.

“We really want to start with, ‘What’s the overall vision?’ We want to let people imagine what they want this space to be,” said Kristina Ray, spokesperson for the City of Carlsbad.

In May of 2020, the City of Carlsbad acquired grant funding for over $500,000 from the California State Coastal Conservancy to design a plan that would increase resilience to rising sea levels. Part of this effort would involve relocating South Carlsbad Boulevard further away from the coastline.

“We want to create more space for people, move the road over to the east a little bit, and you would free up like 60 acres worth of land,” said Ray.

The overall long-term project scope involves a three-mile stretch along the coast from Palomar Airport Road down to La Costa Avenue.  But first, planners are focusing on an initial design phase for how the southbound lanes of Carlsbad Boulevard from Manzano Drive to Island Way could be moved further east, allowing for a repurposing of the coastal land.

“When you look at an area like this, you know no one wants to walk in the bike lane with cars whizzing by,” said Ray. “What if this whole area had wide bike lanes? What if there was a bike lane for long-distance cyclists and a different bike lane for people with beach cruisers. There’s so many things that can be done.”

Plenty of people walk and bike alongside the 101 every day, and at some points along the way, there isn’t a whole lot of room between the road and the cliffside.  Anne Stogner lives nearby and likes the idea of expanded walkways.

“There’s many, many people that walk this every day and everybody would feel a lot more secure,” said Stogner.

And others who feel differently want to keep things the way they are.

“This area right here is known to all the locals.  It’s one of the last parts left,” said Neil Cameron, who has lived in Carlsbad his whole life. “Leave this alone.  Once you change it, it never goes back.”

The design phase for this pilot project should take about a year, and at that point, they’ll be able to estimate the overall cost of construction and look for more funding sources.

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