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Meet the Candidate 2022: Solana Beach City Council, District 4

Name: Jill MacDonald

Jill Weitzen MacDonald
Jill Weitzen MacDonald
(Photo by Joanne Barratt)

Occupation: Nonprofit President

Education:

Bachelor of Arts in History, Goucher College

Master of Public Administration, Syracuse University

Community Service:

Founding Member and President, Solana Beach Community Connections (current); Board Member and Treasurer, Sea Point Townhomes (2014-2017); Director and President, Del Mar Foundation (2008-2014); City Council Member, City of Bunker Hill Village, Texas (1998-2004); Trustee and President, Solana Beach School Board (1992-1995); Board Member and President, Solana Beach Schools Foundation (1990-1995)

1.What are the biggest issues facing the city and how would you address them?

Residents expect city infrastructure to be maintained and improved. Our streets and sidewalks are being used by cars, commercial vehicles, bicycles, e-bikes, and walkers and need to be upgraded to safely accommodate all these forms of transportation.

Demographically, our population is aging, and we must make sure that older residents are able to participate fully in our community. Solana Beach is the second oldest city in San Diego County and 41% of the population of District 4 is over the age of 65. The City of Solana Beach will have the results from its Age Friendly Community study by early 2023 and I plan to advocate for implementation of the recommended action plan.

Climate change is real, and California is bearing the brunt of hotter temperatures, sea level rise and a diminishing water supply. Solana Beach must update its Climate Action Plan to address these challenges.

2. What is your position on housing policy, such as implementation of the housing element and navigating new state housing bills that have potential to add density in Solana Beach?

State laws to promote more housing are resulting in higher values in Solana Beach, leading to the displacement of residents from naturally affordable homes that are being re-developed for increased profit. I am concerned that the decision-making regarding development is being taken away from local elected officials, who are best suited to make these decisions. As a result, we see these undesirable consequences. Expecting the private sector to build affordable housing in a community with high land values is unworkable. If subsidies are provided, the city can build affordable homes, while preventing the displacement of residents and disruption of existing neighborhoods. Solana Beach has zoned for all Regional Needs Housing Allocations in existing commercial areas and near transit, but a small city needs subsidy dollars to fill the gap between market rate and affordable rents. Given our higher land values, this is a bigger gap than in many other cities.

3. Are there any infrastructure projects you think are especially important for the city to prioritize?

I participated in the workshops to design the project known as the Lomas Santa Fe Corridor Improvement Project. This project has been designed and funding is in the process of being secured to start construction. The construction will start at the eastern end of Lomas Santa Fe and continue westward, both beautifying the eastern entrance to Solana Beach and making the entire corridor safer for walkers, bicyclists, and motor vehicles.

We are home to both public and private schools and Safe Routes to School must be a priority to serve the children attending these schools. This means repairing roads, adding signs, and crossing signals, and having crossing guards in place. We must evaluate every means possible to make sure that our school children can walk safely to school and that traffic rules are being enforced.

4. How would you grade the city’s response to the climate crisis, and how much work still needs to be done to address rising sea level and other risks?

Solana Beach has been a leader in taking steps to address climate change including the establishment of the Clean Energy Alliance, which now includes seven cities; requiring new construction and substantial remodels to use clean energy and low water landscaping and joining with the City of Encinitas in a coastal storm damage reduction project that will provide funding for beach replenishment for the next 50 years. The city’s 2017 Climate Action Plan has been so successful that it has exceeded its goals for 2035 and is due to be revised. Obviously much more needs to be done to meet the challenge of the climate crisis, and we all must reduce, reuse, and recycle. I will work to continue the excellent progress that Solana Beach has made in addressing climate change.


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