Six candidates are vying for three open Solana Beach City Council seats in the Nov. 6 election. Candidates include Vickie Driver, Paul Frankel, Lesa Heebner (incumbent), Daniel Powell, Peter Zahn and Dave Zito (see below).
Years living in Solana Beach:
•Software Architect for Hewlett-Packard Company
•M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of California Berkeley
•B.S. in Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
•Four-plus years on View Assessment Commission, Two years as chair
•Eight years of volunteering for Solana Beach Parks and Recreation Committee events.
•Volunteer at my children’s schools for many events and fundraisers
•Lead trips for the YMCA as part of their father/daughter program
•Appointed by the City Council to a task force in 2000 to update our housing ordinances
•Appointed by the City Council to a task force in 2008 to update our view ordinance
•Author and proponent of the “Solana Beach Community Protection Act” ballot initiative which passed in 2000 by a 25-point margin
•Former foster parent and father of two adopted children from the county foster system.
•Participant in the ongoing General Plan update process
1.) Why are you running for a seat on the Solana Beach City Council?
My wife and I have lived in Solana Beach for 21 years. This is where we have chosen to raise our family and through our many volunteer activities we have become integrated into our community. We value so many different things about this unique City from its wonderful beaches and lagoons, diverse selection of commercial districts, to the regular community events such as the Beach Blanket Movie night, Holiday Tree Lighting, Arts Alive, Concerts by the Cove, and many others. In the time we have lived here we have watched Solana Beach grow into distinct, vibrant beach city with a unique identity all its own which we all cherish as residents.
I am running as there are two vacancies on the council this election cycle and I want to continue to serve this community by offering my experience and expertise as we navigate the path ahead and tackle the challenges facing us. The next few years will set the tone of our City for some time to come and the deep appreciation I hold for Solana Beach combined with the skills I bring to bear will be critical to ensure our town continues to move in the right direction.
2.) What experience/qualifications would you bring to the council that you think would be beneficial?
Through my volunteer activities I have been brought in touch with many wonderful members of the community and this has given me a greater understanding of the issues we face and the importance of protecting our City. Additionally my work on several local ballot measures has given me a deep knowledge of our laws, where they are effective, and possible areas of improvement. Multiple prior city councils have recognized my expertise and contribution which resulted in appointments on various committees and sub-committees to update our ordinances to more efficiently serve our residents and businesses while remaining compliant with State law.
My extensive professional experience, including a thorough understanding of business, finance, and technology, will also be brought to the Council. At the Hewlett-Packard Company I guide diverse set of teams toward a common goal of delivering on expectations of timely, high quality products. My role is both strategic and operational where I have responsibility for performing the analysis and justification for the chosen direction, reviewing and approving contracts, selecting the right people for the job, and then executing to the plan for product delivery.
My strong analytical skills developed through years of technical training combined with my proven leadership in a challenging corporate environment and many community volunteer activities will be an invaluable addition to our City Council. Recognition of my qualifications and contributions is why I’ve earned the endorsement of four current and five former councilmembers, including Margaret Schlesinger, the first Mayor of Solana Beach.
3.) What do you think are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?
Solana Beach is well run and fiscally sound, however, we continue to face pressures due to the poor economy and State money grabs which require tight fiscal control and efficient operation. This combined with the elimination of our Redevelopment Agency makes it more difficult to continue doing the regular maintenance and capital improvement projects that our residents have become used to seeing, such as the Fletcher Cove redesign, Linear Park improvements, and the recently started Highway 101 improvements.
It’s also important that we complete our LUP (Land Use Plan) and have it approved by the Coastal Commission. Currently, any project in Solana Beach which requires permit approval has to go through a two-step process; approvals are required by the City of Solana Beach as well as the California Coastal Commission for every project. Failure in either forum starts the two-step process all over again which creates significant inefficiency and waste for both our residents and the City staff. Completion of the LUP will also allow us to free up the seawall mitigation funds to improve public beach access and get more sand on our beaches.
Traffic and pedestrian safety is another growing concern in Solana Beach. Given the absence of school busing, adjacent fairgrounds use, and high speeds on our major roads we are faced with a troubling mix of frequent poor traffic conditions. This is sometimes further complicated by the lack of pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly situations on our roads which encourages even more people to remain in their cars.
4.) Do you have any suggestions as to how the biggest issue in your answer for #3 should be addressed by the council?
All of the issues I’ve mentioned above revolve around our ability to maintain the quality of life we’ve come to expect in Solana Beach. Great beaches, safe neighborhoods, efficient city services, small town charm, and fun events such as Beach Blanket Movie night require us to have a financially sound, safe, and dynamic community. The current council has already taken a number of important steps by reducing costs, streamlining government, and starting the 101 redevelopment. The ongoing 101 project is going to add more parking, create a walkable commercial district, slow down speeding traffic, and encourage people to hang out and enjoy themselves in our beautiful City. All of these changes will attract redevelopment and more businesses to serve our residents as well as generate sales tax revenues for our city. By electing an experienced council this November we can ensure that these improvements will occur while also protecting our invaluable small beach town charm from being hijacked by unscrupulous out-of-town developers. We need to apply some of these principles to other areas of Solana Beach to provide for walking and biking environments as well as safe routes for our children to get to school. We need to continue to drive efficiency in our government by completing ongoing tasks such as the LUP which will reduce waste and costs for everybody. With my extensive business and volunteer experience I am the right person to shepherd these continued improvements in our town and keep Solana Beach the great place it is today.
For more information: