Solana Beach fills all but one vacancy on its resident commissions

With more than half the seats set to expire, Solana Beach appointed a new slate of residents onto the five committees that take a first swipe at crafting some of the city’s most important policies, budgets and decisions.

The city council last week approved 17 appointments for two-year terms, leaving only one empty spot on the Public Arts Commission.

The nine-member Climate Action Commission saw six nominations for five upcoming vacancies. Two of the five seats went to returning members: Mary Yang, who holds degrees in chemistry, geochemistry and biology from Berkeley, Princeton and MIT, respectively, and Heidi Dewar, a federal fisheries biologist. They will be joined by geologic consultant Jonathan Goodmacher; Sarah Richmond, an Encinitas resident who until last year was a planner with the California Coastal Commission; and Jeffrey Martin, founder and CEO of the Solana Beach-based Yulex Corp., whose recent work included partnering with Patagonia to develop the world’s first bio- and plant-based wetsuit, thus eliminating the need for harmful neoprene.

Martin’s appointment to CAC is his first in three tries in his 12 years living in Solana Beach, and he was the only applicant to speak at the council’s Jan. 24 meeting. Much of the commission’s upcoming work will focus on steps to implement the landmark Climate Action Plan that the council approved last year.

“I’ve got a keen interest in helping you execute the plan,” Martin said. “I’d like to add my talents and my resources to help you accomplish a very ambitious goal.”

The most competition came over the four vacancies on the often-contentious View Assessment Commission, a seven-member panel that decides whether new homes, additions and commercial construction violate the city’s stringent view ordinance.

Passing over three would-be newcomers, the council unanimously approved the four commissioners whose terms were set to expire: 27-year resident Gary Garber, real estate agent Molly Fleming, retired teacher Pat Coad and Paul Bishop, whose importance Deputy Mayor Dave Zito stressed as the VAC’s only architect.

The five-member Budget and Finance Commission, which provides crucial input on the city’s operating budget, filled its two pending vacancies with Sharon Gross, a CPA and 25-year Solana Beach resident, and Judith Hamilton, whose 38 years as a CPA are exceeded only by her 39 years living in Solana Beach.

The Parks and Recreation Commission reappointed one member and added two new ones. Linda Swindell, who has made the proposed skate park at La Colonia her personal crusade, will return to her seat. She and the other two returning commissioners are being joined by litigation attorney Tracy Richmond and Jolene Koester, a higher-ed consultant who was president of Cal State University-Northridge from 2000 to 2011.

The sole unfilled vacancy is on the Public Arts Commission, which plans the annual Arts Alive event and helps choose artists to carry out public art projects. Four seats were available on the Public Arts Commission but only three candidates applied. The three seats are going to Sharon Klein, who served on PAC from 2001 to 2013; realtor Nancy Pfeiffer; and Brad Auerbach, a business development executive who is also an adjunct professor in media and technology at UCSD.

With such a crowded field of hyper-qualified applicants, Councilwoman Jewel Edson had a message for those who did not make the cut.

“Please reapply,” she said. “There is always an opportunity, and we had such a marvelous pool of talented people again this year. It’s amazing. We have a great community.”