Socrates Kanetakis

Rick Caruso addresses the community at St.Patricks church on Jan.21 on a heated debate about Prop A. The debate was an attempt to show both sides of the proposition to Carlsbad.

Caruso’s modest proposal

February 16, 2016

Over the course of the last three years, Caruso Affiliated and the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce have concurred on the construction of an open air shopping and dining promenade–just fancy jargon for ‘mall’–on the northwestern wing of the local strawberry fields. The controversy of this project has become Carlsbad’s version of Watergate and gives its residents a reason to put up signs, make posters and paint their cars. But in this entire campaign of “yes” and “no”, few have wondered what Carlsbad’s present students and future voters have to say about this little conundrum. Well, here is an opinion:

The L.A.-based mall developer, Rick Caruso, had the courtesy of playing his pre-recorded cassette of promises in city council meetings and on our school’s television, swaying citizens and students in scripted speeches revolving around an agenda based on probability. To dumb it down, Measure A is as promising as your New Year’s resolution.

“You are voting on a law, a 400 page law that governs what I can do and what I require to do…but then, I have to go to the Coastal Commission before I do anything,” Caruso said at a CHSTV post-interview.

The Coastal Commission–whose approval will ultimately set the parameters for the project’s schema–is forbidden from conducting any research on the project’s viability since it was bypassed when the plan was put on public vote. In other words, Caruso cannot initiate construction without the approval of the Coastal Commission, which cannot conduct its research without Measure A’s approval. This Mexican standoff is largely attributed to our city’s governing body and their decision to approve such a measure without wanting to (initially) place it on the ballot.

When asked if this was the first time that the citizens of Carlsbad were not given the opportunity to vote on a major project introduced to our city’s council, Mayor Matt Hall said, “The answer is yes,” followed by a long comical pause and subsequent laughter from the audience. Hilarious.

Carlsbad’s governing body–who endorse the project’s financial promises since it will benefit the city and their pockets–has assigned Caruso’s own research agency to research the project’s viability. They  consider Measure A to be the best thing that has ever happened to Carlsbad since the invention of the wheel.

Before we jump right into the analytics, let’s clear something up about Measure A’s marketing. Caruso’s campaign uses phrases such as “Open Space the Right Way” and “Save our Strawberry Fields” which were both the underlying subjects of 2006’s vote on Proposition D.

The following are quotes from Prop. D:

  • “Strawberry fields are allowed to continue as long as it is economically viable for the landowner to do so.”
  • “Residential use is not appropriate for the area. Commercial and industrial-type uses other than those normally associated with farming operations are also not appropriate.”
  • “An interconnecting public trail through the area preferably linking the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon with the existing Flower Fields could greatly enhance public access in the area.”

In these three quotes lie the guarantee of the strawberry fields’ survival, the marking of trails and the prohibition of any commercial and industrial construction on that land. Malls fall under that “commercial” category. Measure A would repeal Prop. D and all the boundaries it has established thus bringing in new laws that Caruso Affiliated hid in that 400 paged bible.

Caruso has repeated that Prop. D allows the construction of amenities such as museums, aquariums or ice rinks on the area he wishes to construct his mall. If Carlsbad lacked anything other than malls, it would probably be ice rinks, aquariums and museums. Misinformation, as Caruso criticizes his opposition for spreading, is the key to his campaign.

“Open space” translates to “open mall” in Caruso’s language, evidenced by Caruso’s Affiliated own research that illustrates that this mall isn’t going to be a gentle giant, but rather an Ork straight out of Mordor. According to viability analysis conducted by Caruso Acquisition Co. LLC, 24.102 cars are predicted to drive in and out the mall’s parking lot daily–which will magically host all those cars without needing a second or third level–and 12.8 million visitors are projected to visit it annually (twice as many as LEGOLAND California Resort).

Taken from Carlsbad’s official webpage, these two images demonstrate a “before Measure A” and an “after Measure A.” The image below illustrates the current state of the land with the area highlighted in yellow being the strawberry fields.


The image below demonstrates the condition of the strawberry fields after measure A has taken effect. The area highlighted in yellow is the land that the proposed mall would take over and yes, those fields under yellow are indeed our strawberry fields. Jimmy Ukegawa, the owner of the strawberry fields, has the option of continuing his reaping along Cannon road moving east, although the soil is infertile and not cultivated, which means more money and trouble for the growers. Ukewaga will be fine though, there is a lot of green that sprouts from Caruso’s pockets anyways.


Selling a mall under catchphrases such as “save the strawberry fields” and “open space the right way” simply makes you a crook. If Caruso and the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce weren’t afraid that such a measure would fall flat on our stomping feet, then why didn’t they promote it for what it really is? Why bypass CEQA? Why would Caruso bring along Ukegawa in every one of his speeches if not for the purpose of having a familiar face for Carlsbadians to trust and listen while he repeats his monotone line of: “If measure A does not pass, the strawberry fields will be gone.” If Measure A passes, more than half of his property will be gone. Why are we not told the complete truth?

Alternative uses for the land are not being discussed although ideas should really be suggested. After all, something will be eventually built on that yellow zone.

“What I’d like to see is a local market, tie it into the farms there and teach kids about organic farming,” Citizens for North County member Chris Murnane said. “My vision of the land is to build something that its zoned for, build something to benefit us, the people of the community.”

Caruso wants to get the facts out. Here they are:

  • 48.3 acres of land are available for commercial use off of the Interstate-5.
  • 176 acres along the lagoon shores are already open space thanks to Prop. D.
  • The strawberry fields are–and have been–protected by prop D since 2006.
  • Our city already fosters three malls.

In the midst of all this, Carlsbad Villages’ store owners believe that they will benefit from a competitor who houses famous brands while some Carlsbadians still think of Measure A as the strawberry field’s lone salvation. Traffic will allegedly improve–under measure A–and after extensive, month-long, street-widening construction on one of the I-5’s narrowest parts. Agua Hedionda Lagoon will apparently not suffer from careless visitors’ trash and miles of trails will decompose the lagoon’s virgin landscape. Our Mayor jokes his way around public hearings while he and his council insist that this plan is “the right thing to do for Carlsbad.” The police department enjoys its increased salary and philanthropist Rick Caruso happily sacrifices over $7 million in campaigns because he cares for our people.

Other than that, life is rad in Carlsbad.

About the Photographer
Photo of Socrates Kanetakis
Socrates Kanetakis, Podcast Editor

Socrates Kanetakis recently moved from his country, Greece. He is the podcast editor and also the movie reviews' editor. In his free time he enjoys philosophizing,...


21 Responses to “Caruso’s modest proposal”

  1. Brian McInerny on February 17th, 2016 8:14 am

    Wow that was a refreshing read. Why does it take so long for the truth to be spoken? This story should have been published a month ago. I hope the truth prevails. Many thanks to the author. Let us hope the city council and Caruso are exposed in their deception.

  2. Casandra on February 17th, 2016 9:51 am

    Impressive !!!

  3. Rich Breyer on February 17th, 2016 10:39 am

    Great article. I hope the majority of Carlsbad awakes. We need to clean house at city hall and elect some people that care about the citizens.

    I hope you can craft an article on the barrio/downtown redevelopment. This new project will feature a city run Trolley to shuttle tourist and mall employees back and forth between downtown and the carusoland mall. Thanks again for your article. I enjoyed reading the truth….

  4. Yannis Alatzas on February 17th, 2016 10:42 am

    Fantastic opinion and THANK YOU!
    Ya sou Sokrati Kanetaki!

  5. Niels Norby on February 17th, 2016 10:46 am

    I am going to keep this as short as possible but dispute some of your claims and interpretations of the first portion of your message. Here is a quote of what you wrote above along with my comments on each of them about Prop D. and this project in parenthesizes:

    “Before we jump right into the analytics, let’s clear something up about Measure A’s marketing. Caruso’s campaign uses phrases such as “Open Space the Right Way” and “Save our Strawberry Fields” which were both the underlying subjects of 2006’s vote on Proposition D.

    The following are quotes from Prop. D:

    “Strawberry fields are allowed to continue as long as it is economically viable for the landowner to do so.”
    “Residential use is not appropriate for the area. Commercial and industrial-type uses other than those normally associated with farming operations are also not appropriate.”
    “An interconnecting public trail through the area preferably linking the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon with the existing Flower Fields could greatly enhance public access in the area.”

    In these three quotes lie the guarantee of the strawberry fields’ survival,

    (it guarantees it survival as along as it is financially viable to continue. With water costs and others rising, the strawberry farmer has indicated that it would probably be out of business soon, with Measure A, he will have other crops and a farm to table restaraunt to generate income, helping to make the Strawberry Farming more profitable)

    the marking of trails and the prohibition of any commercial and industrial construction on that land. Malls fall under that “commercial” category.

    (Prop D, did not cover the 48 acres, of which 27 acres will be developed. It is zoned visitor serving commercial by the city and has been zoned travel serving commercial since the 1980’s. The other 170+ acres will be further restricted on what can be developed. it will not allow many items that Prop D. allows.)

    Measure A would repeal Prop. D and all the boundaries it has established thus bringing in new laws that Caruso Affiliated hid in that 400 paged bible.”

    (It does not repeal Prop D., because Prop D covers other portions of land, i.e. flower fields, that are protected by Prop D. Measure A is a SPECIFIC PLAN that defines 203 acres and what can be built in the commercial 48 acres not covered under Prop D and the 176 acres that was part of prop D. )

    Please also remember that all this land is not owned by the City of Carlsbad, it is private land that is being sold. Yes the city has the rights to lease the land and put trails on it at a cost of Millions of Dollars to develop the three miles of trails proposed under Measure A. Why would the City spend Millions on this, then IF the land was sold to another owner. They could easily terminate a lease at the end of a lease.

    I appreciate your passion and participating, but please be informed and correct in what you are posting. It is only fair to the Citizens of Carlsbad to make a judgement on true statements and facts, not interpretation of what you think Prop D was.

  6. socrates kanetakis on February 20th, 2016 4:00 pm

    Lets pick on some things you mentioned: Regarding Ukegawa having more crops to farm on if the measure passes; I stated on the article that if measure A is approved he has the choice of “continuing his reaping along Cannon road moving east, although the soil is infertile and not cultivated, which means more money and trouble for the growers.” I don’t see how it would be profitable for him to literally relocate part of his cultivation and start sowing on infertile grounds. Not to mention that his crops in Baja, Mexico should be pretty profitable for him anyways…

    So Prop D apparently covers other portions of land…Really? It all looks the same land to me. The only difference is that now it is “sold” under a different law with more pages. And regarding the trails, I live right by the lagoon and wake up to its beauty daily, I find it completely foolish for anyone to spend “millions of dollars” to improve something that is already perfect. The shore’s beauty lies on its natural virginity, marking trails for careless tourists will destroy our lagoon’s nature, pollute its vegetation and drive its fauna away from their homes. Oh, and since the City is willing to spend that much money on useless trails, why can’t you spend some of that on our school’s decade-old books and perhaps hire some more teachers?

    By the way, including the strawberry fields in your fancy illustrations is an utter misinforming lie. The fields will be dissected and the “promenade” by which you stand for will take over half of their land. But then again, a $2.6 million revenue for the city sounds very appealing.
    Closing, being a member of Carlsbad’s Chamber, you should know very well the parameters Prop D has established and the ones Measure A wants to impost. I don’t see any misinterpretation–from my part– of the words “…allow the farming operations in the area such as the existing Strawberry Fields and flower growing areas to continue.” ( Prop D, Section 3.3 article B.3)

    So, Mr. Norby, I think that you have misinterpreted my article. This isn’t a work of pure passion, this isn’t propaganda, these aren’t lies, this isn’t me trying to “participate” in my community, this is the TRUTH that the citizens of Carlsbad need to hear.

    See, I made mine short too…

  7. Amanda Mascia on February 17th, 2016 10:48 am

    Bravo, Socrates! Bravo!
    We are overjoyed to have your powerful and intelligent voice speak on behalf of this issue!
    I was overcome with emotion reading your piece, as it was obvious you attended the St. Pat’s debate. I’m honored that you were one of the people in the crowd and you picked up on so many of the important issues.
    Thank You.
    -Amanda Mascia

  8. Michael blue on February 17th, 2016 11:16 am

    I thought the open space was 155 acres under prop D. The difference coming from the 48 zoned commercial.
    Open space is defined as as parking, garage as well as museum etc. Will the repositioned strawberry fields take up acreage of the open space as well?
    Overall, a no vote is appropriate.

  9. Anne Kalscheur on February 17th, 2016 12:03 pm

    Nicely done. Ignore anyone trying to correct you. It’s great that you are speaking up for the youth. I haven’t come across one high school student for this project. Your opinions matter even if many of you can’t vote. You are getting bombarded at school and on tv be the Yes people. It’s refreshing to see so many of you standing up for what you believe in. Keep it up and fight the fight!

  10. Brian McInerny on February 17th, 2016 12:07 pm

    Niles Norby needs to do some fact checking before he contradicts what an intelligent truthful and accurate student states.

  11. Niels Norby on February 17th, 2016 1:02 pm

    I have fact check. Question, do you believe Prop D covered the 48 acres that the Promenade (mall) will be built on??

  12. Guardian of lagoon on February 17th, 2016 3:50 pm

    Socrates you make me sooooo proud! You do America and Greece proud! You are a gifted writer my friend. You have a keen sense of wit and justice. Amen.

  13. Sue on February 17th, 2016 6:52 pm

    And, in the end the truth always comes to light.

    Thank you so much for your article stating the facts of Measure A that Mr. Caruso’s marketing plan is trying to bait and switch!
    “Oh, look over here…Open space!!” “Pay no attention to the 585,000 sq ft. MEGA MALL! That is twice the size of the current Outlet Mall. The equivalent of 10 football fields!

    “Save the strawberry fields” When the strawberry fields would be more in danger with Measure A than without it!
    Mr. Caruso will be grabbing the present Strawberry Fields and moving Mr. Ukegawa to 60 acres of less productive soil.
    The citizens of Carlsbad have had about enough of sniveling by the current owner of the strawberry fields to last us quite a long time!

    Mr. Caruso has built in everything in his 9212 report to benefit Caruso Affiliated and not much to grab a precious piece of wildlife corridor that is a jewel to the citizens of Carlsbad. Fifteen years of ministerial review by City staff.

    Yet…they still tout…”Oh! Look over here”! Trails! Strawberries, Pay no attention to the 35,000 cars per day that will infiltrate our precious Village.
    And the worst back slap is “Traffic will improve”!

    Or, maybe worse to date is “All at NO cost to taxpayers”

    Well written article!
    We appreciate your passion!
    We appreciate the truth!
    We stand with you!

  14. David Bloch on February 17th, 2016 9:36 pm

    Firstly, I’m glad to hear that students are concerned about this issue, and are expressing their opinions and sentiments. I’m glad that the students involve themselves in this matter, because it indicates to me that they feel like this community is theirs.

    I disagree with the role the town administration has taken regarding this matter. They have, it seems, crossed the boundary of propriety in becoming the de facto sales force for the Caruso Company.

    The points that have been made here I find quite compelling, and further bolster my being opposed to the mall.

    If that land ever gets developed (under the circumstance that the measure is voted down on February 23), the development is circumscribed to low impact projects, and projects that provide for public use.

    One thing that I have come to understand, which is to say that it is my opinion, that Caruso is going to get a lot more out of this than the mayor, city hall, the police, the fire department and the operator of the strawberry fields, and the people of Carlsbad.

  15. Jan Bandich on February 17th, 2016 9:59 pm

    Very nicely researched and compiled, you have waded through a lot of information to focus on the pertinent issues, well stated!

  16. Kathleen Combs on February 17th, 2016 10:05 pm

    Wow. Great job. Keep up the good work.

  17. John Roach on February 17th, 2016 11:27 pm

    Proud of your research and detail. Glad to see students concerned with Carlsbad shenanigans.

  18. Colin Brisebois on February 20th, 2016 10:45 am

    NO ON A!!!!!!!!

  19. David Stoffel on February 20th, 2016 7:41 pm

    Great article! NO ON A!!

  20. Niels Norby on February 22nd, 2016 1:58 pm

    Mr. Kanetakis, In your judgement, do you think the 48 acres of land zoned for Visitor Serving Commercial was part of Prop D??

  21. Dan Sweeney on February 22nd, 2016 9:07 pm

    Police, fire, city services and taxpayers benefit from a good, structured plan. YES on A!

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