Six candidates are vying for three open Solana Beach City Council seats in the Nov. 6 election. Candidates include Vickie Driver, Paul Frankel (see below), Lesa Heebner (incumbent), Daniel Powell, Peter Zahn and Dave Zito.
Years living in Solana Beach:
• President, Wm. M. Perkins Company Inc in San Diego
• North Carolina State University (1979), bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering
• University of Virginia, Darden School of Business (1983), master’s in business administration with a concentration in accounting and finance
• Solana Beach Little League, long-time volunteer coach and director
• Coordinator for the five Solana Beach Little League fields at Solana Vista, Skyline and CDC from 2008-2011
My family and moved here because we loved the beach community feel of Solana Beach and that our local schools were an integral part of the community. We saw that there was a City Council in Solana Beach that recognized the value of a vibrant business community but balanced the need to have a strong tax base with the need to maintain the wonderful charm and character of our city.
However, over the past eight years, things have changed. Our Council has implemented new ordinances that compromised our property rights, strained to satisfy the needs of minor constituencies at the expense of larger, more important ones and decided that a business license tax increase (while our local businesses were trying to survive the worst economic downturn in our city’s history) was the best way to address the pronounced deterioration in our key tax revenues. Fortunately, Solana Beach voters saw through this and decidedly rejected this tax and spend plan several years ago.
My decision to seek election to the City Council was made after numerous discussions and meetings with friends, neighbors and local business owners who were unhappy with the way our city has been run recently and, like me, wanted a council that was focused on the things that matter most to those of us who live here: family, fiscal sustainability and freedom from needless intrusion of local government in our daily lives.
My proven track record as a successful businessman and strong background in finance will be highly beneficial to the city if I’m elected. I am a long-time volunteer for many years in various small business organizations, local government committees as well as for our local Little League. These experiences underscore my commitment to civic involvement, my interest in seeing our local businesses be successful and my understanding of municipal finances. Lastly, I believe that my perspective as an east-side resident of Solana Beach will help to bring balance to a City Council that has been dominated by west-side interests for the past eight years.
• Fiscal Sustainability: Early Solana Beach City Councils understood that a strong tax base was required to support the many infrastructure projects that we need in Solana Beach. These councils brought train service to the city and associated infrastructure necessary for the Cedros District to grow. The resulting jump in tax revenues (the “Cedros Dividend”) made Solana Beach the fiscal envy of its neighbors. However, the current council majority has spent most of our Cedros Dividend without investing to help grow our tax base as previous councils did, straining our city finances.
• Property Rights: Our “over the counter” planning approval process was a simple, efficient and resident-friendly way to get construction permits approved. That all changed in 2011 when the current council passed a revision to the permitting process by requiring a mandatory public design review for all new projects in excess of 500 square feet, thereby giving themselves the final say on what nearly every residential and commercial construction project should look like including color, theme, shape, size and design.
• Ignored Constituencies: Our largest constituency – families with school-age children – is not a priority for this council. Each year, SB Soccer and Little League have been able to count on our fiscally-challenged school district to be the de-facto “parks and rec department,” providing staff support, playgrounds and fields, but they can’t count on our city. It’s a shame that every city in the county boasts a parks and recreational field program that is larger than ours here in Solana Beach! In addition, despite the fact that most of our city residents own a dog, there is not one place in Solana Beach where dog lovers can legally take their dogs “off leash” to run and play freely.
Having lived in a city that has design review (Del Mar), I am very familiar with how it can impact a community. For every story describing how the process worked as intended, there were many where it didn’t. I know of cases where neighbors haven’t spoken with each other for more than 30 years because one of them opposed the other’s project in a Design Review Board hearing, or the many others who fought to get approval for their plans over a period of years, not months, and only were successful after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on architects and attorneys. Of course, there were the sad cases of others who made similar investments but never did gain their approval.
As I look around Solana Beach at the beautiful homes and commercial buildings in our city that were constructed without the lengthy and arbitrary design review process that was added last year by our current council, I have to ask myself where is the evidence that supported the adoption of design review? Do we really want to give elected officials the final say on what nearly every residential and commercial construction project should look like including color, theme, shape, size and design because that is exactly the power they have based upon the wording of the city’s Design Review Ordinance. Like most of us, I believe that this council went too far when it adopted design review and I will work to get Solana Beach “back on track” to make our permit process resident-serving once again.
For more information: visit www.electpaulfrankel.com