Opinion/Commentary: Upcoming projects in Solana Beach will benefit both the City and business community

Note: The speech below/on the web was given by Solana Beach Mayor Joe Kellejian at a recent Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce event.

By Solana Beach Mayor Joe Kellejian

I would like to talk about what I believe makes a great community. It’s when the business community and the City have a great working relationship, each benefitting and thriving off one another.

When the business community is strong, the community is strong. Businesses are the lifeblood of the City. Not only do you provide the needed goods and services, but you provide sales tax revenue to maintain and improve the operation of this wonderful city.

One of the primary goals of the City in the coming year is to better assist the business community in attracting and retaining “clean” businesses as they are a great fit for Solana Beach.

I again, truly believe that in order to sustain a vibrant community, you need to have a thriving business sector, and the City is here to assist the Chamber of Commerce to achieve this goal.

So with that being said, I would like to briefly discuss a few significant projects that will be breaking ground in the very near future that will have tremendous positive impacts to both the City and the business community.

First, we have the sand replenishment projects that will have a beneficial impact throughout the community. Increasing the amount of sand on our local beaches will result in increased recreational opportunities throughout the year, dramatically impacting tourism and drawing people into the City to shop at our businesses and eat at our restaurants.

The City is excited about the regional beach sand project which is expected to begin this April, and the federal Army Corps of Engineers project, which is on track to be approved in 2013. The proposed federal sand replenishment project would be a 50 year project with continuous sand replenishment, which will have a significant and ongoing positive impact on our local economy.

Next, I would like to discuss the exciting Highway 101 Revitalization project that is scheduled to break ground this year as well. Some of the project improvements include widening the sidewalks ,narrowing the medians while at the same time enhancing the landscaping and increasing the number of parking spaces on the west side.

Other positive aspects of the project will include making the Solana Beach Highway 101 Corridor more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, reducing speeds of vehicles, installation of art nodes and incorporating various “interesting people meeting/gathering places” along the corridor.

But what I am really excited about is that once the project is complete, it will be the final piece of the “downtown loop” that the City has always envisioned.

It will complete the loop between the Cedros Design District, the pedestrian bridges and the Coastal Rail Trail to now include a revitalized and thriving Highway 101 corridor.

We believe that this will turn Solana Beach into a true “destination” location that will attract people from all over, especially with the Train Station located right in the middle of it all.

People will come to Solana Beach to eat, shop, and enjoy the natural beauty of the area, in a pedestrian and bicycle friendly style. Highway 101 will no longer be the cut through to I-5 and will be the envy of the cities state wide.

Finally, I would like to briefly talk about the NCTD Train Station development. I’m excited and optimistic that the recent positive momentum of the City and NCTD finally working together will result in a development at the train station site that fits the community character and will benefit the business community as well.

The recent Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by all parties is a significant step in the right direction to finally get an appropriate development at that site that will positively impact the “downtown loop”. The right type of development will further entice people to take the train to our beautiful City and get out and eat, shop and enjoy the area instead of just passing through on the way to another destination.

We truly believe that the right type of development will be a great asset to the community and we are dedicated to bringing something to the community for their review and comments sometime this year.

Now, I would like to switch gears and discuss how the City and the Chamber of Commerce can work together to develop and implement programs that will benefit the business community as a whole.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this talk, I believe that a truly thriving City must have a strong business community, and the City is motivated and dedicated to building a strong bond with the Chamber to make this a reality.

So, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss a couple of new programs that I would like to focus on in the coming year that will bring us closer together to help out local business community.

The first program I would like to work with the Chamber on promoting is the SDG&E Direct Install Program. This is a free service provided by SDG&E where trained technicians will come to your business and provide, for free, certain energy efficiency and conservation upgrades that will lower your energy demand and therefore lower your energy costs, saving you money.

This program is aimed at small businesses, so please stay tuned as we work with the Chamber to get you more information.

The second program I would like to see happen this year is the development of a “Solana Beach Car-Free Vacation” program.

Several other cities throughout the state have very successful programs already in place, so it would just be a matter of utilizing an already successful model and tailoring it to our City’s needs. The basic program involves Amtrak offering a discount to those who travel to Solana Beach by train and sign-up for the “Solana Beach Car-Free Vacation.”

The program also involves local businesses giving incentives or discounts to those vacationing here if they come without their cars or park their cars and get out and walk or bike.

Local businesses will benefit from the increased exposure and revenue from those utilizing the program, as well as free advertising on public outreach materials.

This provides a benefit to the local economy as well as promoting the City as a clean and green community that promotes alternative modes of transportation and reducing our carbon footprints.

Next, I will be asking the City Council to implement a local “Clean Business” award program, designed to help businesses become sustainable or “clean.”

This will be primarily a City driven program but will involve local businesses as well. I won’t get into too many details since its still in the discussion stages, but it will most likely be a self-certification process that involves Pollution Prevention, Energy Conservation, Water Conservation and Solid Waste Reduction programs.

The businesses that qualify would benefit by receiving free publicity through the City in the forms of eBlasts, website mentions, “Shorelines” newsletter highlights and a certificate to hang in their place of business. Again, this will be driven by the City and will need Council approval, but I wanted to just mention it you, so you are aware of another exciting opportunity.

Finally, I would like to let you all know about another new program that has exciting potential to boost the local economy.

The City is currently working with the 22nd Ag District to provide a free shuttle during the fair and horse-racing season.

The shuttle will be paid for by the Fairgrounds and will run daily from the fairgrounds through Solana Beach and stop at pre-determined locations on Dahlia Street, Plaza Street, at the Train Station and on South Cedros Avenue to drop people off to enjoy our local businesses. This will be a great marketing opportunity for local businesses to capitalize on during a busy season for the fairgrounds.

The City will assist our local businesses in this marketing effort to reach as many people as possible and entice them to come eat and shop in Solana Beach.

So, in conclusion, I would like to just thank the Chamber of Commerce for allowing me to discuss the City’s plans for the upcoming year to enhance the local economy in conjunction with the local businesses.

The City and the Chamber have a great working relationship and we hope to just continue strengthening this bond to benefit the community as a whole.

Remember, a strong business sector is the key to a vibrant and thriving community.

Thank You!