2014 in Solana Beach: A year in review

From holding a special election to welcoming a new council, Solana Beach has been busy in 2014. Here’s a look back on the seaside community’s top 10 stories of this year.

Proposition B passes

After more than two years of debate between Solana Beach residents who wanted to rent Fletcher Cove Community Center for private events and community members who feared adverse impacts from parties, voters narrowly approved a measure that eased restrictions on private functions at the facility during a special election Feb. 11. Proposition B was adopted by nearly 51 percent of voters, with 1,947 “Yes” votes and 1,875 “No” votes.

Solana Beach bans e-cigarettes use, restricts sales

The council on Feb. 12 amended the city’s existing smoking ordinance to prohibit e-cigarettes, and similar devices, in all public places where smoking is banned. Three months later, the council revisited the issue to require vendors to obtain an annual retail license. In a 5-0 vote, the council on May 28 agreed that retailers of electronic smoking devices should hold the same license tobacco retailers in the city are required to obtain.

City welcomes dogs on beach

The city invited man’s best friend to enjoy some of its sandy shores this summer. The council voted unanimously on May 28 to allow leashed dogs on the beaches north of Tide Park and south of Del Mar Shores, as long as the dogs are on a leash no longer than 6 feet and as long as owners clean up after them.

Earl Warren Middle School gets new look

San Dieguito Union High School District kicked off the first phase of its complete reconstruction of Earl Warren Middle School in August. The $41 million overhaul of the 60 year-old-school is made possible by the passage of Proposition AA. Construction is expected to be complete in fall 2017.

Del Mar Shores access stairway officially reopens

Although the structure has been open to the public since early October, city officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the replacement of the Del Mar Shores access stairway Nov. 12. Funded by nearby property owners, the staircase was built in the 1970s and deeded to Solana Beach after it became a city in 1986. The deteriorating stairway was deemed unsafe and closed indefinitely in November 2012. Construction of the new structure, a $1.1 million project, began at the start of the year.

Officials break ground on Veterans Honor Courtyard

Following Solana Beach’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, city and county officials broke ground on a courtyard that will honor past, present and future services members every day. Located at La Colonia Park, the Veterans Honor Courtyard will feature a stone veneer wall with military seals behind a reflecting pool, honoring all U.S. veterans, living and deceased, as well as those who are serving at home and abroad. The $200,000 project is funded by city and county grants, as well as private donations.

Gateway property becomes part of city’s conservation legacy

In a unanimous vote, the council on Nov. 19 accepted the Gateway property as a conservation easement from the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, forever protecting the parcel as open space. Located east of Coast Highway 101 across from Cardiff State Beach, the 3.44-acre parcel was long sought by real estate developers and potential property owners.

City manager retires, rejoins staff temporarily

Although David Ott officially retired as city manager in November, weeks later he agreed to serve as interim city manager until a new city manager is hired. His appointment began Dec. 18 and will run through no later than June 30, 2015, as he can work only 960 hours in a fiscal year. Ott will earn $92.91 per hour, an amount based on his previous salary. He will receive no benefits.

Ott has provided more than a decade of service to the city, first joining Solana Beach in 2003 as fire chief and director of public safety. He was named deputy city manager in 2005 and city manager the following year.

Community bids farewell to Campbell, welcomes new council

After two decades of service to the city, the community honored outgoing Mayor Thomas Campbell during his last council meeting Dec. 10. Following the hour-long recognition ceremony, Councilman Mike Nichols was sworn into his third term and Ginger Marshall began her first. Rather than hold a fall election, the council appointed Nichols and Marshall — the only two candidates for two seats — during a special meeting Aug. 20.

Council appoints Lesa Heebner as mayor

In a unanimous vote, council members on Dec. 10 appointed Lesa Heebner as the city’s mayor and Councilman David Zito as deputy mayor. Having served as deputy mayor throughout the last year, Heebner replaced retiring Mayor Thomas Campbell. A Solana Beach resident since 1976, Heebner was first elected to the council in 2004. This is her third term as mayor, a position that rotates among council members.

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