By Margaret Schlesinger
First mayor of Solana Beach
The Victory Party was held at Winner’s Circle on the night of June 3, 1986. Of course, those who gathered did not know if it would be a victory or the second defeat for the incorporation of Solana Beach. But as the results filtered in late that night and in the early hours of June 4, it became apparent that by an overwhelming vote of 64 percent there would be a new city of Solana Beach in San Diego County.
In 1985, a group of concerned and committed citizens and business owners had formed a committee, “Citizens Intending to Incorporate” (CITI), headed by Jack Moore and Gail Paparian to explore the possibilities of incorporation. The main reason was always self-determination, the ability of local residents to make their own decisions about where they live, a principle that harks back to the founding of this country and independence from England!
It had become clear over the years that the County of San Diego, our governing body before we became a city, was not able to provide the services we needed and was allowing major development to occur over the objections of the residents who had to travel downtown to the County Administration Center and endure long, tedious meetings to be heard. More than half the taxes raised in the community of Solana Beach were being spent elsewhere in the county.
A massive amount of research by Jack Moore produced a study to take to LAFCO, the state permitting agency for new cities, to prove that a City of Solana Beach could not only support itself, but would do a better job of providing services—police, fire, lifeguard, road and park maintenance, lighting, etc—than the County. If we could keep the revenues raised in our community, we could provide better services and more responsive government to our residents and businesses. LAFCO, through its independent study, agreed and the election date was set for June 3, 1986.
A lively campaign followed. Funds were raised for materials, printing, signs, precinct kits. Letters were written to newspapers and debates were held. On May 3, hundreds of residents participated in a walk-a-thon down Lomas Santa Fe Avenue. The supporters were convinced that the quality of life and character of the community could be preserved only through incorporation.
On June 3, together with incorporation of a new city, five city council members were elected: Jack Moore, Marion Dodson, Richard Hendlin, Celine Olson, and myself. For three and a half frantic weeks, we worked to form a City. Early on the morning of July 1, 1986, our county supervisor, Susan Golding, swore in the five council members and the business of the new city began with our placing a moratorium on all development. Decisions on land use had been the number one issue of the campaign and we were responding to the concerns of the people of Solana Beach. Over the months, as each project was discussed, development went forward. Within two years, a citizen’s General Plan committee of over 50 members, ably led by Jack Peek, brought forward a plan for the city.
Since 1986, I believe that first Council and those that followed have delivered on the promises of incorporation. A new City Hall and Fire Station were built, La Colonia Park was improved, a Community Center was built and the first house in Solana Beach was moved to the park to become the Heritage Museum. The Train Station and grade separation, placing the railroad tracks under Lomas Santa Fe, would not have happened without incorporation. Many other improvements have occurred, but that is the subject for another column. As for me, I believe that incorporation is the best thing that ever happened to the beautiful, seaside community of Solana Beach.