Meet Solana Beach City Council candidate Peter Zahn

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 (see below) and Dave Zito.


Peter Zahn

Years living in Solana Beach:



• Business attorney and owner of Counsel Direct Law Offices in Solana Beach

• Catholic University School of Law, Juris Doctor

• George Washington University, bachelor’s degree in political science

Community activities:

• Chairman of the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce

• San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Energy and Water Committee member

• Served four years on the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, as vice president, board member and executive committee member.

• Former chair of the San Diego Council of TechAmerica (the former American Electronics Association) and member of TechAmerica’s national board of directors and Small Business Committee

• Member of Bar of California, New York and New Jersey, as well as the American and San Diego Bar Associations

• Moxie Foundation Board member

• Board member of American Lung Association of California and the American Lung Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties

• Chaired Solana Beach’s annual Fiesta del Sol

• Received Solana Beach Sustainability Award in 2010

• Attended the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009 and 2011, serving on the Green Mobility Action Network.

  1. Why are you running for a seat on the Solana Beach City Council?
We live in the best place on earth. I am running for City Council to make Solana Beach even better. That said, our city faces significant challenges over the next several years. These include commercial development pressures, structural issues on our oceanfront, siting of affordable housing projects, tightening government budgets, pressures on city services, public safety, and the management of our local government. In the midst of this, we must not lose sight of our quality of life and community character.

Keeping Solana Beach’s unique character will require hard work and creative solutions. My priorities on the City Council are to:

1. Enhance our quality of life and beaches

2. Attract quality businesses for a vibrant commercial sector and tax revenues

3. Maintain fiscal discipline and accountability for our City, to maximize our resources.

4. Ensure sensible, sustainable growth while encouraging a healthy business environment.

  1. Provide public safety for our residents and visitors.

On a more fundamental level, I have sought all of my life to make a positive difference in the lives and communities around me. This is what makes life rewarding and enjoyable, and a key reason I am running for Solana Beach City Council.

  1. What experience/qualifications would you bring to the council that you think would be beneficial?
While living and working in Solana Beach, I have met many of the residents and understand their concerns. I bring to the Council 30 years’ experience as an attorney and business owner. This means I won’t be learning on the job.

My professional experience and qualifications will help me serve the city. In my law practice I engage in business and employment law, conduct complex transactions, form businesses and nonprofit organizations, and assist companies to adopt environmentally sustainable business practices.

I have worked with the local business community for several years. As mentioned above, I was vice president and a board member of the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, as well as the chair of Fiesta del Sol. I founded and chair the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, and I sit on the San Diego Chamber’s Energy and Water Committee. I have started and led several businesses, and recently helped establish a business incubator at San Diego State University. A second business incubator is in the works at UCSD.

In addition, I have valuable relationships both inside and outside of Solana Beach. I am pleased to have the endorsement of a majority of the Solana Beach City Council, including Tom Campbell, Lesa Heebner and Mike Nichols. In addition, several former mayors have endorsed me, including Margaret Schlesinger, Tom Golich and Rick Hendlin. I am pleased that the League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club have also endorsed me.

I understand what brings businesses to Solana Beach and the challenges they face. With the skills and experience to stand up to powerful special interests, I will bring a professional, business-minded voice to our City Council.

Finally and most important, I have a strong set of values. These include integrity, character, hard work and a fair shake. These are the values I live by. These are the values I will take to my position on the Council.

  1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?
Our biggest challenge is to protect our quality of life while our commercial sector grows. For example, we have a recently announced American Assets project on Highway 101 that is likely to trigger significant development along the 101 corridor. Other issues include the coming update to Solana Beach’s General Plan, structural issues on our oceanfront, affordable housing projects, road construction on Highway 101, freeway expansion, tightening government budgets, pressures on city services, public safety and the management of our local government.

  1. Do you have any suggestions as to how the biggest issue in your answer for #3 should be addressed by the council?
There are several ways the City Council can balance commercial growth with Solana Beach’s quality of life. The challenge is to have a vibrant business sector and obtain the corresponding sales tax revenue without the traffic other impacts that are out of sync with our community character. The council can address this by working with established organizations to attract quality businesses and streams of revenue. For example, we should encourage the promotion of Solana Beach as a destination for visitors from a wide area; developing a weekend “eco-tourism” package has merit, where visitors travel to our city by train and enjoy our local beaches, restaurants, and other amenities.

The council should also examine our development review process, with the objective of streamlining the process for sustainable, lower impact projects while providing guidelines for the projects that have a greater impact on the community.

I believe the council should also take additional measures to engage the community in the review process, educating interested residents and businesses about proposed projects and soliciting their input early in the process.

Finally, we need to be vigilant in our oversight of the city’s spending and maintain the best possible fiscal controls and accountability. Our ability to maintain our quality of life as new commercial projects are proposed will require ongoing resources.

On the council I would work hard to craft solutions our residents will favor. I look forward to contributing my skills and experience to meet the challenges we will be facing in the coming years.

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