Solana Beach City Council gets into the giving spirit

Divvies out grants in meeting of the year

By Jonathan Horn


In its last meeting of 2009, the Solana Beach City Council got into the holiday spirit and donated $25,000 to local nonprofits through its community grants program.

Eighteen area nonprofits put in requests for up to $5,000 in contributions from the city, which selected eight to award in varying amounts. Only the Community Resource Center received a full allotment of $5,000, which will go toward its 27th annual holiday basket program at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The council remained generally consistent in its annual decisions, as six of the eight organizations selected had previously received financial assistance.

One of those was the North Coast Repertory Theatre, which has gained financial support in each year but two since this program started in 2004. The production house asked for the full $5,000 to create a play about Solana Beach that it promised would involve the community and local schools. After some debate, the city gave it $3,000.

This, along with a $3,000 award to Skyline Elementary School’s Buddy Bowl garden-building program, proved to be the most controversial. Newly appointed Mayor Thomas Campbell was the lone dissenter against the allocations, saying he could not support these two programs in the current economic climate.

“I felt if we had the opportunities to help needy children and school clothes programs and community baskets for the needy, to me that seems a little bit more important than funding a play about Solana Beach,” Campbell said. “I can’t support donations either to Buddy Bowl.”

Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner said she agreed with Campbell with regard to funding the theatre program, but Councilman Mike Nichols said it is important to promote the arts, especially among the area’s youths. Councilman Dave Roberts said the theater is vital to the quality of life in Solana Beach, and also brings in money for local restaurants and businesses.

“This is an organization we have worked to keep in this community,” he said. “It’s a fixture here in Solana Beach.”

The four council members also supported awards to Buddy Bowl, with Joe Kellejian drawing a parallel to his childhood.

“I had (a garden) growing up myself in the inner city, and I thought it really helped me out in appreciation of what we can have growing things,” he said.

In less contentious items, the council awarded $2,500 to the Boys & Girls Club, $3,500 to Kids Korps USA’s summer camp program, $1,000 to the Solana Beach sing-a-long for new songbooks and $3,500 each to the Solana Beach Little League and Soccer Club.

The Community Grants Program is funded by a $10,000 contribution from EDCO and Waste Management, while the remaining $15,000 comes from the city’s general funds.

Solana Beach also was presented with its 2008-09 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The city’s net assets decreased roughly $1.3 million to $549 million as a result of its operating costs.