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Carlsbad Not Yet Ready for ‘Knight of Your Life’

Is there a medieval castle in Carlsbad’s future?

Sword fighting, jousting and knights on horseback? Up to 1,040 people at a time dining on roasted chicken flambe spare ribs, herb-basted potatoes and fruity wine cocktails? Half a million people a year touring the Hall of Arms, the Knight Club, the Courtyard of Crests and Crafts, an art gallery and the stables?

The answer is yes, if Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Inc., a theme park-restaurant-dinner theater chain based in Buena Park, has its way. The answer is no, unless concerns of city planners about traffic, height limitations and architectural conformity are satisfied or overcome.

Medieval Times would like to build on a 4-acre site west of Interstate 5 just north of Marie Callender’s restaurant on Avenida Encinas. The company’s other castles are in Buena Park; Kissimmee, Fla.; Benidorm, Spain; the island of Majorca in Spain and, soon, The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

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Each diner receives a color-coded crown and is assigned a champion to represent him during the ceremonial procession and games. There are 11 shows a week during the winter, 15 a week during the summer.

“We think of ourselves not just as a restaurant or park, but as an “attraction,” spokeswoman MaryAnn Powell said.

Therein lies the land-use rub. The heraldic spirit of 1093 and the zoning restrictions of 1989 clash like two armored knights on galloping stallions.

Medieval Times would like a 65-foot tower. Carlsbad has a 35-foot limit. Medieval Times would like a freeway-catchy sign that says “For the Knight of Your Life.” Carlsbad likes signs to be demure.

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Powell is sure that these and other sticky points are not insurmountable. “We’re confident we’ll be in Carlsbad in the not-too-distant future,” she said.

Planning Director Michael Holzmiller is wary. “We have a lot of talking to do about traffic and other visual impacts,” he said.

Bright Idea for SDG&E;

Fact One: A tried-and-true lobbying technique involves contacting a politician’s campaign contributors and asking them to speak to the pol on your behalf. It’s sometimes indelicately called the squeeze play.

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Fact Two: A secretary to SDG&E; lobbyist Buzz Schott was spotted at the city clerk’s office at San Diego City Hall, intently studying the contributor lists of City Council members.

“The more we know, the better job we can do,” Schott explained. Any connection between this surge of interest and the would-be buyout of San Diego Gas & Electric by Southern California Edison?

“Could be,” Schott said. “We’re definitely trying to gear up for any future conflict. . . . We’re looking for anything that might help us.”

Homework Welcomed

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Higher education is so broadening.

MiraCosta College in Oceanside is offering a seminar March 11 on “Finding a Mate in San Diego.” It is advertised thusly in the spring catalogue:

“Take charge of your social life. Learn proven methods of how to identify a compatible, stable, available mate. What to say and what not to say. . . . Learn flirting tips and how to tell if someone is interested or just being friendly. Hear about six kinds of love and a 14-point plan to improve your social life . . . “

The text will be instructor Sally Gary’s book, “San Diego Connections: A Single’s Guide & Resource Book.”

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All Aboard Aren’t Human

Yes, those were mice you saw darting beneath the seats on the Amtrak train between San Diego and Los Angeles.

Mice are a continual problem aboard the trains, and Amtrak has a year-round contract with an exterminator. It’s the food, not the travel, that lures the mice.

“Some people are slobs and leave all kinds of food scraps on the train,” explained Amtrak spokesman Arthur Lloyd. “The San Diego-to-L.A. train usually makes two round trips a day and isn’t cleaned thoroughly until the end of the day. The mice can eat quite well until the exterminator gets them.”

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The freeloading rodents also have a preference for riding first-class.


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