New Solana Beach mayor looks ahead to 2018

Newly appointed Mayor Ginger Marshall will preside over Solana Beach City Council meetings in 2018, and the panel has a lot on its agenda, from deciding whether to become an energy provider for city residents, to launching its climate action plan, to considering upgrades to the Lomas Santa Fe corridor.

Marshall, 54, is serving the final year of her first four-year term on the council, and 2018 will mark the first time she has held the mayor’s post, which rotates annually among council members.

Among her priorities, she said, are public safety, maintaining fiscal responsibility and paying down the city’s unfunded pension liability.

Marshall, who has been on the losing end of 4-1 votes on a number of key issues during her time on the council, said she will continue to oppose measures that don’t square with her views on fiscal conservatism and private property rights.

One example is community choice aggregation (CCA), under which a city or group of cities can form an energy provider, from which residents could opt to purchase renewable electricity as an alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric, the region’s major utility.

Marshall voted against moving forward with the CCA plan at a meeting in October, citing concerns about financial risk to the city and creating another level of government. In an interview, she said SDG&E already produces 43 percent of its power through renewable sources, and is poised to reach 50 percent by 2020.

“They are ramping up their game to stay ahead of this,” she said.

Marshall said she would prefer to see Solana Beach join with other cities such as Encinitas and Carlsbad to form a regional energy provider, rather than going it alone. She also said she would favor a public vote on the issue. A final decision by the council on whether to form a CCA could occur in 2018.

“I think creating our own power company is not going to be economically responsible,” she said.

Marshall also voted no in July on the city’s climate action plan, designed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, citing unknown costs for implementing the plan’s elements.

Marshall, who works in residential real estate, said she has solar panels on her home and drives a hybrid vehicle. “I care about the environment but I don’t want risk to the city.”

She does not support efforts to get more people to ride bicycles instead of driving cars, noting that she could not show real estate with a bicycle as her mode of transportation.

“Our biggest polluter is the I-5 freeway and we don’t have a lot of control over what happens on the freeway,” she said.

Another “no” vote by Marshall came in July, in a 4-1 vote to establish a new traffic impact fee, which will add nearly $16,000 to the cost of a new home in Solana Beach to pay for bike lanes, pedestrian paths and other measures intended to cope with increased traffic.

The city already is grappling with housing affordability, she said, and, “The City Council is part of the problem when they add these kind of fees to a newly built house.”

Among her priorities, she said, are moving forward with improvements to Lomas Santa Fe to make it both more pedestrian and bike friendly and pleasing to the eye; seeking funding for a long-range, joint beach sand replenishment project with Encinitas; a streamlined permit process that complies with the state Coastal Act; work on crosswalks and traffic calming; and paying down the city’s pension liability.

The city is also planning to build a new Marine Safety Center at Fletcher Cove and working to nail down the remaining funds needed to start construction of the long-awaited La Colonia skate park.

If a suitable location could be found, she said she would love to see a designated dog park in Solana Beach.

Marshall, who said she hasn’t decided yet whether she will run for re-election in 2018, said she enjoys working with her council colleagues, who respect each other’s viewpoints even when they disagree. “Everybody wants what’s best for the community.”

As for her upcoming term as mayor, she said, “I’m looking forward to serving my community.”