Longtime Solana Beach Councilwoman Lesa Heebner to not seek re-election

Outgoing Mayor Lesa Heebner highlights the city’s accomplishments in 2015.
Outgoing Mayor Lesa Heebner highlights the city’s accomplishments in 2015.
(Kristina Houck)

Longtime Solana Beach City Councilwoman Lesa Heebner announced Aug. 1 that she has decided not to seek re-election in November.

“I think 12 years is a perfect amount of time for me,” Heebner said. “I am ready to move on to a new chapter in my life.”

A Solana Beach resident since 1976, Heebner was first elected to the council in 2004. She has served three terms on the council, including three terms as mayor in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

With more than a decade on the council, the city has accomplished many things during her tenure.

“A lot has happened between 2004 and 2016 for me to be proud of,” said Heebner, who worked with four different councils in that time.

With a passion for healthy living, Heebner often ran along the Coastal Rail Trail, prompting her involvement in the community. She led the grassroots effort to redesign the city’s portion of the trail, working alongside other community members, including local landscape architect and now Councilman Mike Nichols on the project.

Other accomplishments include the redesign of Fletcher Cove Park and Fletcher Cove Community Center, construction of pedestrian bridges across the railroad tracks, renovation of Coast Highway 101 and the creation of a master plan for La Colonia Park.

The city was the first in the region to enact full pension reform, Heebner noted. Solana Beach has also led the region on several environmental issues, she added, becoming the first city in San Diego County to ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene food containers.

“I’m proud of the contributions I’ve made to the city’s success,” Heebner said. “I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity. It’s been very gratifying, very rewarding.”

And Heebner’s work isn’t over yet.

Before her term ends in December, she hopes the city will make progress on plans for the development of Solana Beach Transit Center. A developer has been selected, she said, and the project should be presented to the public in September.

“I’m really anxious to make sure to tie that one down as a great development that will enhance the experience of Solana Beach for residents and businesses and visitors,” she said.

Heebner is one of three council members with terms that expire this year. The other two incumbents, Mayor David Zito and Deputy Mayor Peter Zahn, have already pulled nomination papers. Both are currently serving their first terms on the council.

Other potential candidates who have pulled nomination papers include Jewel Edson, a member of the city’s View Assessment Commission; Judy Hegenauer, a member of the Climate Action Commission; Chris Hohn, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission; Daniel Powell, a real estate agent and business owner who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2012; and Matt Weaver, a real estate agent and co-owner of Saddle Bar.

Nomination papers have been available from the City Clerk since July 18. The deadline for filing nomination papers is Aug. 12, but if any one incumbent does not file by then, the deadline will be extended to Aug. 17. The general election is Nov. 8, 2016.

“I don’t know that people understand this when they pull papers to run for council, but this is basically a full-time job,” Heebner said. “You have to show up. You have to take this seriously. It’s a big, big commitment, because you’ve been hired by the people.”

At the moment, Heebner doesn’t have any plans for the future other than taking time to relax and travel. Having been involved in the city for so long, however, Heebner admitted that she will still find some way to serve the community.

“I’m not done,” she said. “Something will come up, and I’ll probably be working or volunteering in some other capacity.”