Former Solana Beach mayor discusses city accomplishments, goals and issues

By Joe Tash

In December, Lesa Heebner completed her second one-year term as mayor of Solana Beach. Heebner, who has served on the Solana Beach City Council since 2004, is one of five members of the council, who rotate through the mayor’s post each year. (Joe Kellejian will serve as mayor for 2012, his fifth time in the position.)

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Lesa Heebner

Recently, the Solana Beach Sun sat down with Heebner to discuss the issues facing the city in the coming year and accomplishments of the past 12 months. The interview is presented in a Q&A format, and has been edited for brevity.

Heebner is a graduate of UC San Diego, who worked as a stockbroker before starting her own business organizing and designing kitchens to maximize their functionality for healthy cooking and eating. She also ran a culinary school, has written cookbooks, and served as food editor and commentator for local print and broadcast media.

The interview touched on such subjects as planned improvements to the Coast Highway 101 corridor, development of property around the Solana Beach train station, and a recent decision to require City Council review of any home addition or remodeling project that adds 500 or more square feet to the building.

Question: For 2012, what are the key issues for the city?

Answer: I think the most important is the (Coast Highway) 101 renovation that’s coming up. We’ve sent out the plans for bid, we authorized that a couple of meetings ago. And we should be breaking ground on that some time in the spring.

Q.: Can you give a thumbnail sketch of what that project is?

A.: It’s from bridge to bridge, so from the Cliff Street bridge to the Dahlia Street bridge, that’s the location of this renovation. And it’s going to be widening the sidewalks to encourage more pedestrian activity and perhaps some sidewalk cafes. There’s going to be street trees throughout along the sidewalks. We’re doing angled parking.

In the design are 11 places, they’re sort of meeting places, they each have a very subtle theme to them, all associated with the healthy lifestyle, healthy outdoor lifestyle, that Solana Beach represents to so many people.

And one of them, for instance, is based on the constellations… it was my idea. The (constellations visible on the) exact day on July 1, 1986, when Solana Beach became a city. One other place is going to have a water feature, it’s sort of a learning spot, where you can see the different depths of the water and what sea life lives at each depth. Then another is, because we’re the busiest bicycle corridor in San Diego County, right here at 101 and Lomas Santa Fe, we’ve got a little bicycle sort of theme.

So again, the whole idea is to make this whole corridor a lot more pedestrian friendly, and encourage people to come down and spend their time, and we’re hoping, and it’s already starting, to generate private development along 101.

We got the money for this, I found it at SANDAG (the San Diego Association of Governments). We tagged on to Build America bonds that SANDAG was going out to market for. And we got $5.5 million and we had about a million-plus set aside already for this project.

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