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LOCAL ELECTIONS : Top Carlsbad Issue: Implementation of Growth Guidelines

Times Staff Writer

With a restrictive growth-management plan already intact--a matter of bitter dispute in the 1986 Carlsbad municipal elections--candidates wooing voter support this November are making their pitches on how best to shape the city under the plan’s outlines.

Unlike two years ago, when tempers flared over whether or not to implement the growth management plan, Carlsbad Election ’88 has been largely devoid of controversial issues.

An election issue that could change the face of Carlsbad is the initiative on building a public golf course and tennis facility. The council-backed ballot initiative, designated Proposition M, would increase the hotel room tax by 2% to generate funds for the proposed $6-million to $8-million recreational complex.

General Support

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The ballot measure has been enthusiastically supported by incumbents as well as by some of the challengers vying for the two City Council seats up for grabs Nov. 8. Incumbents Ann Kulchin and Eric Larson are seeking reelection, and are being challenged by Dan Hammer and Susan Hassl.

“I believe we need a public golf course,” said Hammer, a Proposition M advocate. “It is an amenity that is necessary for both residents and tourists alike. It will make our city more attractive.”

The tax increase, city officials say, should generate enough money by 1990 to pay for building the complex. Money gained after that will be placed in the general fund to finance other city needs.

“The golf course would be great for tourism, and all the additional revenue that we would get from it can be used for other things,” Kulchin said in an interview, referring to the $200,000 annual profit the facility is expected to produce. “This is something for the whole city, not just for golfers.”

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Agreement between Kulchin and Hammer, however, ends there.

Although council seats in Carlsbad are at-large and not designated by districts, Hammer, 39, a senior editor of reference books for the publishing firm of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in downtown San Diego, has been stumping vigorously to unseat Kulchin.

“I would be happy to win either of the two seats,” Hammer said, “but I would prefer to replace Ann Kulchin.”

Hammer, a vocal supporter of saving open space, has criticized Kulchin’s voting record during her eight years in office, saying she has allowed massive housing projects to be built without forcing developers to provide infrastructure improvements.

As the co-author of the 1986 winning ballot initiative, Proposition E, designed to ensure that public facilities such as streets and parks grow apace of housing, Kulchin angrily dismissed Hammer’s attacks.

“There are still Proposition G people out there, who are still fighting Proposition E, which was passed by the vote of the people,” said Kulchin, tagging her opponent as a “no-growth” lobbyist. Hammer supported Proposition G, a rival measure defeated in 1986, which called for an annual cap on the number of dwelling units.

“They are still trying to make growth an issue, when it’s really not,” Kulchin, a former elementary schoolteacher, said. “Mayor Buddy Lewis and I wrote Proposition E. I have not let in any developers into this city whose projects don’t make sense. Dan Hammer does not know the facts. And, quite frankly I’m getting tired of somebody who works in downtown San Diego, who really isn’t around here all the time, making all these accusations.”

Councilman Larson, 39, who so far has stayed out of the Kulchin-Hammer fray, maintains he should be the voter’s choice because he is a man who understands “fiscal prudency.”

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“The city has two new fire stations that are coming on line that need to be staffed, we have a library that’s coming on line and other projects that we’re already obligated to,” Larson said. “I think it’s important we have someone who is fiscally prudent and not talking about starting up all sorts of new plans.”

“Coming from the business community, I know the importance of having a balanced budget,” said Larson, who is a general manager of the San Diego County Flower & Plant Auction, a farmer’s cooperative.

Candidate Susan Hassl, the former Costa Real Municipal Water District board president, is on vacation and was unavailable for comment.


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