Listening, researching, and applying data-driven decision-making
for a sustainable and equitable future.
At her first annual Carlsbad City Council goal setting workshop after swearing in as a Councilmember, Cori raised the issue of the updating the Growth Management Plan as an important issue for the Council to prioritize immediately. The Growth Management Plan has two main components:
1) Population and building unit caps, and
2) Financing tool (developers must pay for infrastructure improvements, traffic mitigation, city facilities, etc.).
2017 Council Goals Workshop Part I: Cori requests Growth Management Plan Update process be a Council Goal.
2017 Council Goals Workshop Part II: Cori requests GMP update begin now, but Mayor and Council want study of "triggers."
Our Growth Management Plan (GMP) was initiated by our residents, then studied, approved, and implemented at a time when Carlsbad’s growth was characterized by sprawl development, such as the Robertson Ranch and Quarry Creek developments. The majority of growth in Carlsbad these days is in-fill development, which was not contemplated in our Growth Management Plan. How will we continue to finance key infrastructure improvements, maintenance, and future city facilities (including parks) in this new era? How will we gauge the impacts of dwelling units that are currently allowed to circumvent Carlsbad’s dwelling unit counts (like Accessory Dwelling Units and professional care facilities)?
Cori has been consistently forwarding a proactive, transparent, participatory planning process for an up-to-date GMP that centers our community in the process and puts our residents first. Any changes to the GMP must be submitted to, and approved by, a direct vote of the people of Carlsbad.
Carlsbad benefits from the financial infusion resulting from residential developments (property taxes, GMP related infrastructure and facilities), but we also bear the burden of insufficiently mitigated impacts, such as traffic.
Cori's record of voting on development has been consistent. Of the dozens of developments that have come before Council during the time she has served on Council, she has voted to approve only a small handful that matched the character of our Carlsbad neighborhoods, achieved a balanced mix of truly affordable units, and mitigated traffic impacts appropriately.
Residents are feeling the impacts of significant increased traffic from projects like Robertson Ranch. Schumacher worked with residents and city staff to remove a median on the north side of RR on Tamarack that was causing a dangerous traffic situation as vehicles exited from RR. There is more work that needs to be done west of El Camino Real, on Tamarack, to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods. Schumacher contends that RR was not mitigated for traffic impacts appropriately. This will cost taxpayers in the long run and impact our residents’ quality of life.
Cori does not simply accept staff recommendations. She consistently and thoroughly questions recommendations, digging deep into development plans and agenda items in order to ensure our community's needs are met and our community values upheld. As Mayor, Cori will continue to ensure that our municipal code, ordinances, and policies are current, non-conflicting, and are not open to inconsistent application or interpretation. She will ensure clear, concise, and data-driven policy making occurs on every agenda item, at every Council meeting.
Affordable Housing, Affordable Living
Cori addresses the nexus that exists between housing, jobs, traffic, and affordable living in conversations with our community. She understands the interconnection between those issues that impact our most often expressed concerns for ourselves, our families, and our future. While accomplishing affordable living is essential, it must be done with constant attention paid to preserving the character of our city.
“What is Cori’s definition of ‘affordable housing’?”
Affordable housing is defined by the percentage a household (individual, or family) is spending on their rent or mortgage. For affordable housing, a household should be spending no more than 30% of their total monthly income on their rent or mortgage. Many San Diegans spend far more than 30% of their monthly paychecks on housing. With the cost of living increasing and stagnated wages, many folks, many families, are just one paycheck away from losing their homes.
The range of affordable housing is broken down by percentage of the Average Median Income (AMI) of an area. From there, our Housing and Neighborhood Services Department negotiates with developers on the affordability of the housing. We can require developers to build “Above Moderate, Moderate, Low Income, and Very Low Income” housing (see chart below). We have mandates from the state to zone for a certain number of units within each category. This has changed with requirements to actually build these units, as of this year. Carlsbad has traditionally negotiated developers build more units within the Above Moderate and Moderate categories, while we have not been hitting the mark for the lower income categories.
From 2016 to 2017, 55% of San Diego’s newly homeless were either living in their cars or struggling on the streets specifically because of economic reasons (not due to mental health or addiction issues).
Schumacher has consistently advocated for revising our Inclusionary Housing Policy to achieve the development of truly affordable housing now, instead of allowing developers to pay a fee in-lieu of developing affordable units on-site. We have a Housing Trust Fund of $14 million that is representative of the affordable units that haven’t been built.
Schumacher supports affordable housing that will achieve a greater degree of affordability for folks like our police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, young families, and those who are on fixed income and want to age in place, but she has advocated that we spread the need to areas Carlsbad planning staff and previous Councils have been ignoring, like the city-owned property at the Shoppes (a parking lot) and the area around Poinsettia Station. This is in order to ensure that the one area we are currently focused on, the Village and the Barrio, is not overwhelmed by development of great intensity. We need to find the proper balance between protecting the quaintness and charm of our Village and Barrio, while creatively exploring other areas in Carlsbad to support affordable living in Carlsbad.
Carlsbad is also not alone in facing this challenge, but we are unique as a coastal city. Coastal cities across California are struggling with complicated challenges of planning for sea level rise, while preserving the affordability of homes for people who want to remain in Carlsbad throughout their lives, and providing for new affordable housing that is compatible with Carlsbad’s character. Cori is proactively working to ensure Sacramento understands that state mandates cannot be “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to density, development, and sea level rise.
Fresh, proactive, and nuanced policies for addressing solutions to threats to Carlsbad’s quality of life will preserve our community values while allowing us to adapt to the future. Population growth and ensuring opportunities for future Carlsbadians are challenges, but these are challenges we can solve by finding new solutions together. Antiquated planning approaches will convert Carlsbad into a future that several residents have expressed they do not prefer, and Schumacher is listening and providing resident-focused solutions.
Only 15% of Carlsbad residents actually live and work here, despite the fact that we have a 3:1 ratio of jobs to residents. Everyday, Carlsbad residents flow out of Carlsbad to go to their jobs, while workers from outside of Carlsbad flow in to fill the #1 industry sector that we have in Carlsbad: hospitality/service. This imbalance creates substantial amounts of traffic on the 78, I-5, and on streets like El Camino Real, Palomar Airport Road, College Blvd, Rancho Santa Fe, Tamarack, La Costa, etc.
Our opponent has acknowledged that through a non-transparent partnership with 4 other Mayors in North County (Vista, Escondido, San Marcos, and Oceanside), our subregion was planned in a way that located the great majority of more affordable housing outside of Carlsbad. Carlsbad’s main workforce, then, is intentionally housed in cities to the east, while the jobs Carlsbad residents need to afford living in our city exist outside of Carlsbad. The traffic burden on our North County highways and Carlsbad streets is the result of poorly thought out planning and a lack of intelligent investment in public transit throughout our subregion.
Cori is committed to working to achieve a live/work balance for our residents, city workers, our police and fire staff, our nurses and teachers, our young families and seniors, and will focus on bringing our public transit up to par in collaboration with rising leaders in North County who have also identified how poor planning is seriously impacting North County residents’ quality of life.
One of the most concerning trends Cori has run into over the course of her service to our city is that many times residents will express they have contacted the city with concerns about traffic, only to be told that "there is no problem according to our methodology of measuring traffic." The frustration from our residents is palpable. Cori is committed to ensuring that traffic issues are tackled expediently and that future traffic issues are identified properly and mitigated appropriately. This includes revisiting old problem areas that have been long ignored. It's time we start believing our residents, not out-of-date methodologies and measures.
Village and Barrio
The Village and Barrio downtown Carlsbad area represents Carlsbad’s historic district, and should be protected. When the Village and Barrio Master Plan Update came before Council, Cori proposed a thoughtful, nuanced, alternative to protect several blocks that comprise this charming community asset, outlining a proposal to achieve lower building heights in the Village Core and a more streamlined approach for affordable housing near transit. Cori also identified two other areas of Carlsbad where the City could achieve State mandates for increased affordable housing stock with lower impacts to our community. One was near the Poinsettia Station and the other was the city-owned parking lot at the Shoppes. Cori forwarded this alternative to respect the will of residents who for years have been vocal about protecting the charm and quaintness of the Village and Barrio. Village and Barrio areas should not be overburdened with increased density and excess heights.
The Barrio has been consistently under-represented when it comes to tending to pedestrian safety, traffic safety, safety lighting, beach connectivity, and ADA improvements. Cori is committed to working to implement the safety improvements residents of this area have been requesting for decades.
As Mayor, Cori will revisit the Village and Barrio Master Plan to ensure a balance is achieved for our residents and provide more objective standards for developers. The City is currently growing in ways that are unsustainable and out-of-touch with our residents’ vision and values.
For decades, residents of Carlsbad have asked for better beach safety on the 1 mile stretch of beach the city is responsible for from Pine Ave. to the Oceanside border: our North Beach. This stretch of beach is notorious for dangerous rip tides and packed beaches in the summer.
In conversation with State Parks and Recreation, Cori learned that State Lifeguards have had to triple their staff at their northernmost lifeguard station at Pine Ave. so that when (not if) an emergency occurred on our city beach, State Lifeguards would be able to keep their beach areas to the south safe and secure, while tending to the one mile stretch of beach we left unprotected.
Past Carlsbad leadership failed to act proactively on behalf of our citizens and visitors, but within two months of being sworn into office, Cori carried the concerns of residents and retired public safety officers forward, placing the Lifeguard and beach safety item on the Council agenda, and Council moved on the issue.
January 1, 2017 – Retired Lifeguard Andy Weissenberger sent an email to my official city email requesting implementation of a city lifeguard program on our North Beach. He spoke in front of Council in July of 2016 requesting the same. Shortly after he spoke in front of Council, a man died on this stretch of beach. As he recounted in his 1/1/17 email, "city staff was ready to make a presentation to the mayor and council at a council meeting back in September (2016)," but Mr. Weissenberger recounted how he was "told by a staffer... that the mayor and council abruptly decided they'd not want to politicize the matter..." The agenda item was in limbo.
I requested an update from staff about the lifeguard agenda item.
January 25, 2017 – I met with the Fire Chief and Assistant to the City Manager to discuss public safety issues on the North Beach and why the agenda item was in limbo.
February 1, 2017 – Met with the City Manager in person and requested the lifeguard agenda item be added to the Council agenda as soon as possible in order for the city to provide lifeguard protection on our North Beach for Spring Break 2017.
February 19, 2017 – "Check on progress" notes submitted to City Manager via email. The item was still not being moved on to the agenda. I strongly reiterated my request to add the North Beach public safety/Lifeguard item. I reminded staff that in our municipal code, it is codified that it is the privilege of a single Councilmember to request an item be added to an agenda. This does not require consent from the Council majority.
You can review the above timeline via evidentiary documents here, which I provided a link to in my December 12, 2017 newsletter, and/or make a public records request for these items with the city here.
February 28, 2017 – City staff presented the agenda item to Council. Council unanimously agreed to launch pilot lifeguard program beginning in Spring 2017 and subsequently voted to continue to program.
In regards to beach maintenance, facilities, and operations, past leadership has not been able to accomplish a long-term maintenance agreement with State Parks and Recreation. In fact, recent 4-1 decisions made by the Council have had a chilling effect on the negotiations.
Cori has not only thoroughly investigated how to move forward on this issue, she is ready to take the lead. She is confident that through her leadership, we will see a greater degree of cooperation, collaboration, and movement on this issue than the city has previously been able to accomplish. Let’s send her to work!
Regarding local influence over the future of Palomar Airport, the current Mayor has stated that he has strong relationships with each of the current members of the County Board of Supervisors. However, these relationships have not translated to noise mitigation for our residents, meaningful pilot compliance efforts, or a willingness by County staff to cooperatively work with Carlsbad staff over the past several years on the airport impacts that our residents care about most.
Since the 1970s, our residents and past Councils, have been working side-by-side to develop ways to impact operations at the Palomar Airport. During the new iteration of the County Master Plan, Cori forwarded a motion for a community workshop, twice. Both times, the Council did not agree, so Cori held her own workshop to hear from residents. Nearly 100 residents showed up to express their concerns, share their support, and describe what questions they wanted answered through the process. After this meeting, the Council agreed to hold a community workshop with our independent counsel for our residents.
In August 2018, Cori made a motion, and her fellow City Councilmembers unanimously agreed, that the City of Carlsbad should proactively collaborate with the author of a California Assembly Bill that would impact land use decisions on airports in San Diego County, including our Palomar Airport. Cori proposed this idea in April of 2018 at a meeting discussing a State Assembly Bill [AB 3119], without gaining the support of her colleagues. Two times a charm!
Cori has been advocating for a Joint Powers Authority with neighboring cities and the county, like the one forwarded by former Mayor Mary Casler and then Councilmember “Bud” Lewis in the past. She will continue to be a strong voice and a proactive advocate for our residents’ quality of life and our property values in this conversation.
Matt Hall has repeatedly brought up State bill AB 3119, claiming Cori supported it. These claims are absolutely false. Cori wrote a newsletter about her position back in April, which was to oppose unless amended.
In her own words: "I have never come out in support of this bill." Click image to see clip below.
Community Choice Energy
Community Choice Energy (also called Community Choice Aggregation) represents a tremendous opportunity for Carlsbad’s continued fiscal security. A recent feasibility study which covers several North County coastal cities, including Carlsbad, indicates that, should Community Choice Energy (CCE) be approved, Carlsbad ratepayers, including Carlsbad businesses, will immediately save on their energy bills. California CCE customers are saving $90 million on their energy bills this year alone! (Learn More).
CCE is an opt-in program, meaning that folks will have the choice to remain with SDG&E, or switch to the CCE program. Community Choice Energy represents the ultimate in a locally-controlled economic resource, and is a commodity required by our community. Our residents will enjoy the benefits, unless we choose not to act.
Cori has developed a vision for a unique distributed energy system, after meeting with leading alternative energy companies and policy makers, that would move Carlsbad toward 100% renewable energy as early as 2035.
This world class energy system would produce, store, and sell clean energy gleaned from rooftop solar and new and existing area hydroelectric plants. The only other plant of a comparable scale and type that exists has been operating in South Australia for the past year. Although it is only about one-third of the size of the distributed energy system Cori is forwarding, the South Australia system produced $800,000 USD in just two days because it is able to sell its excess energy on the open market.
This energy system would secure Carlsbad’s financial future, without an over-reliance on existing sources of general fund revenue: developer fees (land is running out, and large developments impact quality of life), tourism (reliant upon the health of the global economy and produces primarily service-industry jobs), and car sales (also dependent upon the health of the national economy).
Cori continues to do the research and has cultivated the necessary relationships to get this innovative, premiere distributed energy system launched in our own backyard.
Head over to Cori's "Economic Vision" for all the details and a video.
Sanctuary City/California Sanctuary Laws
There has been a lot of talk and concern over whether Cori wants to make Carlsbad a “Sanctuary City.” Let’s be clear: Cori has no intention to make Carlsbad a Sanctuary City, but a lot of folks took her May 2018 vote against joining the federal lawsuit as a pro-sanctuary city position. This is simply not the case.
Cori’s position on the question of whether to join the federal lawsuit against California was “Take No Action” and to let it play out in the courts, given the deadline had passed to join the federal lawsuit against the state and our Police Department’s ability to cooperate with ICE as they have traditionally been able to would not be hampered by the new laws. She asked our PD about this and they gave her feedback. The conversation around SB 54, introduced by another Councilmember, was meant to divide our city and stoke people’s fears during an election year.
In the time between that decision and now, two court rulings have come down from two different courts.
- In California v. the Federal government on the "Sanctuary Laws," a federal judge ruled on the majority of the points that the federal government was over-reaching. State's rights prevailed.
- In Huntington Beach v. California, the judge ruled that the state was over-reaching with the 121 Charter Cities in California. Local control prevailed. https://www.courthousenews.com/california-cant-enforce-sanctuary-law-against-charter-cities/
"The Huntington Beach decision ruled that Carlsbad is exempt from the State’s Sanctuary status, along with the other California charter cities. We aren’t a Sanctuary City, we won’t be a Sanctuary City, I am not going to make Carlsbad a Sanctuary City.
We have pressing issues we should not be distracted from, like: mitigating traffic effectively (10 years is too long to have waited for traffic light synchronization), 7 city managers and a high rate of staff turn-over under the current Mayor, development that is out-of-touch with our city, 100s of thousands of tax dollars pouring into vacant city-owned properties for years (e.g. the Farmer’s building), and a special election on a mall development that could have been avoided if the current Council had listened to its residents from the start."
It is important that we do not expend extra staff time and city tax dollars on politically divisive, Washington-based politics, especially when the legal issues that may need to be addressed are already playing out in the courts and the issue will have no impact on our city.
SANDAG and AB 805
AB 805 is a California Assembly Bill that was passed in 2017 following years of fiscal mismanagement and stimied operations of San Diego County’s wealthiest and most powerful governing body: the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
Under the direction of the now-removed former Executive Director, the agency lied to the public regarding sales tax revenues even as it was asking for $18 billion in new taxes in its 2016 Measure A. Carlsbad’s current Mayor supported the tax measure and supported retaining the former Executive Director amidst the scandal.
When Cori had some concerns regarding AB 805, she and leaders in other small cities reached out to the author of the bill to encourage amendments that would protect local influence at SANDAG. These amendment were implemented. Cori expressed some reservations about portions of the bill such as the governance structure, but recommended that Carlsbad support the oversight and transparency elements and advocated working collaboratively with legislators to modify the governance structure.
In January of 2018, AB 805 went into effect and has effectively given greater freedom of planning and operations to North County Transit District (NCTD). AB805 gives the North County Transit District the ability to levy taxes (would require a ⅔ voter approval) in our region (including bonding authority). It allows our local public transit agency to fund itself and exert local control. We need an effective way to fund robust public transit in North County if we are going to decrease single-occupancy vehicle trips in our efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in San Diego County.
The passage of AB 805 does not mandate additional housing buildout in Carlsbad, nor does it remove funding for infrastructure improvements in Carlsbad. In fact, significant improvements to the North County Transit Corridor are currently underway.
AB 805 was necessary to increase transparency and oversight of an agency that for far too long operated without any meaningful accountability to the people of San Diego County who fund SANDAG. Its fiscal mismanagement to the tune of billions of our dollars, its defrauding of the public, had to be corrected.
Carlsbad is not alone in facing the challenges of balancing the need to protect our residents and property with protecting our private information and upholding our constitutional rights.
Cori has twice opposed expenditures related to expanding Carlsbad’s license plate reader program for two reasons:
First, once license plate data is gathered and shared with agencies outside Carlsbad, we have no control over how that data is used, how securely it is held, or where else it gets shared. There has already been a breach with an agency we share information with. The citizens of Carlsbad deserve a vote on whether to be surveilled in this way. Just as you “opt-in” to information sharing when you join Facebook or sign up for a credit card, you deserve the option to consent to collect and share your personal information in exchange for a sense of increased safety and protection of private property.
Second, Cori takes a people-first and data-driven position when it comes to her decision-making. In determining what the priority for public safety expenditures should be, Cori determined that a large expenditure on a surveillance tool that Council was told was meant to be “a crime deterrent” during the second lowest criminal activity year in a forty year reporting period, and knowing the deficit of sworn officers the city has, including an insufficient number of support staff, Cori strongly advocated for focusing on staffing up first. After highlighting this shortfall to the public in 2017 in her newsletter and on a morning news program, the city added 5 new positions to the Police Department in the 2018 budget cycle and hiring for the department has seen a significant increase in the past few months.
The total to date spent on this technology is equivalent to ten additional sworn police officers on the ground. Our police department has been short staffed in the dispatch department and in the total number of officers for several years.
Technology cannot replace the effectiveness of proactive policing and police presence in every part of our community, but when it makes sense, when the need for new tech is clearly illustrated, Cori has voted to support tech expenditures in public safety. For instance, she supported an upgraded Mobile Command Center, along with her colleagues, and has voted multiple times over the last two years in support of expenditures for vehicle upgrades for both police and fire departments.
The number of Carlsbad’s unsheltered resident population increased 143% between 2016 and 2017. The problem impacts the entire county, and a great deal of work has been done both in Carlsbad and by the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless.
Cori has strongly supported the efforts of both our Homeless Outreach Team and our Homeless Response Plan, which provides for 2 licensed social workers to manage case work for the individual impediments to finding housing each unsheltered resident encounters. Cori’s data-driven analysis of the issue has led her to support a “housing-first” model, which is the most effective remedy to homelessness, by all accounts. These programs move currently unsheltered individuals off the streets and provides wraparound services to treat addiction, mental health issues, and effectively helps individuals regain permanent self-sufficiency in a dignified and compassionate way.
The closure of Tri City Hospital’s mental health facility has put further strains on our public safety resources, staff, and our ability to address homelessness in Carlsbad. As Mayor, Cori will seek to work with other regional leaders to reopen that local resource.