2015 in Solana Beach: A year in review

From a new city manager to a new school district superintendent, take a look back at Solana Beach’s top 15 stories of 2015.

Compromise saves nearly half of San Dieguito River boardwalk

After negotiations with the California Coastal Commission, supporters of the popular boardwalk that runs along the San Dieguito River were able to save a portion of it. The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors voted 7-0 on April 8 to accept a compromise with the Coastal Commission, keeping a little less than half the structure in place.

In a 5-5 vote, Coastal Commission on March 11 denied the JPA’s request to allow the boardwalk to remain in its location next to the river on the south side of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. In an effort to save it, elected officials and community members gathered March 21 to protest the Coastal Commission’s decision. More than 200 people from Del Mar, Solana Beach and surrounding communities participated in the rally and hiked the 1,200-foot-long boardwalk.

Police arrest attempted kidnapper

A Fairbanks Ranch man was arrested on April 1 in the attempted abduction of a child at a Solana Beach elementary school. Jack Henry Doshay, then 22, was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on charges of child cruelty, false imprisonment with violence and kidnapping in connection with the March 23 attempted abduction of a 7-year-old girl at Skyline Elementary School. Doshay’s pre-trial hearing was continued in December. The next readiness conference is scheduled for April 12, 2016.

In a separate case, he is also charged in a September 2010 incident in which he allegedly lured a 5-year-old girl to a shed at Solana Santa Fe Elementary School and tried to remove her pants. Doshay posted $5 million bond in September and was released from Vista Jail. He has been living in a locked facility and receiving psychiatric treatment. He must wear a GPS ankle bracelet and his location is monitored 24 hours a day.

City brings new city manager on board

With a 4-0 council vote May 13, Greg Wade was officially hired as Solana Beach’s new city manager. Wade has more than two decades of local government experience and previously served as assistant city manager and community development director of the city of Imperial Beach, where former City Manager David Ott also worked before he came to Solana Beach.

Wade was chosen from a field of 80 applicants during the city’s second recruitment search to replace Ott, who came to the city in 2003 as fire chief and director of public safety. Ott was named deputy city manager in 2005 and city manager the following year. After more than a decade of service to Solana Beach, Ott announced his retirement in May 2014. He retired as city manager in November 2014, but returned on an interim basis until Wade was hired.

Solana Beach School District names new superintendent

The Solana Beach School Board in May selected Terry Decker as Solana Beach School District’s new superintendent. Decker previously served as the district’s assistant superintendent of instructional services. Decker has worked in education for more than 30 years, including two years at the San Diego County Office of Education. He replaced former Superintendent Nancy Lynch, who announced last April she would be returning to Northern California to assume the role of superintendent of Reed Union School District in the Bay Area.

Solana Beach welcomes Special Olympics athletes

The 2015 Special Olympics World Games took place in Los Angeles, but San Diego welcomed athletes from around the world in the days leading up to the weeklong sporting event. As part of the San Diego North County Host Town, the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas hosted Special Olympics athletes from Ghana, Swaziland and Thailand from July 22-24.

City welcomes new Sheriff’s captain

John Maryon was appointed captain of San Diego County Sheriff’s North Coastal Station in October. As the new captain, Maryon oversees law enforcement in Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and unincorporated county areas such as Rancho Santa Fe. Maryon has worked in law enforcement for nearly 23 years and previously served as the Sheriff’s Department homicide lieutenant. He replaced Theresa Adams-Hydar, who is handling internal operations within the Sheriff’s Department.

Council OKs environmental report on sand replenishment

The council on Oct. 14 unanimously approved an environmental impact report for a 50-year sand replenishment project. For more than 15 years, Solana Beach has worked with the city of Encinitas and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plan the joint project, which would create a buffer to protect the coastal bluffs, where continued erosion has become a threat to people and property. Under the plan, the project would use sand to nourish depleting beaches and eroding bluffs. Sand would be dredged from three offshore sites at Del Mar, Encinitas and San Diego, and deposited on the beaches.

San Dieguito district breaks ground on new Earl Warren school

More than 60 years after the school opened in Solana Beach, officials, stakeholders and community members celebrated the complete reconstruction of Earl Warren with a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 16 at the site. The project is made possible by Proposition AA. Voters approved the $449 million general obligation bond in November 2012, funding upgrades and repairs to the district’s North County campuses. Because Earl Warren opened more than six decades ago, however, district officials decided to rebuild rather than renovate the school.

City becomes first in county to ban polystyrene containers

With a 4-1 council vote on Oct. 14, Solana Beach became the first city in the county to ban disposable plastic food containers. The city joined 90 other California jurisdictions that have prohibited polystyrene, particularly the expanded form of the plastic commonly known as Styrofoam. Environmentalists advocate against the plastic containers because they do not biodegrade. Products instead break up into smaller pieces that, in coastal cities such as Solana Beach, often pollute the beaches and end up in the ocean, where they can be swallowed by marine animals.

Council awards construction contract for Veterans Honor Courtyard

The council in October awarded a construction contract for Veterans Honor Courtyard. After a ceremonial groundbreaking Veterans Day 2014, the design team, Van Dyke Landscape Architects, finalized plans for the project and the city advertised for construction bids. Having received only two bids that exceeded cost estimates, the council rejected both last January. A revised project went out to bid again in September. The city received six bids by the Oct. 20 deadline. The council on Oct. 28 unanimously approved a more than $247,000 contract for Conan Construction, the lowest qualified bidder, and close to $49,000 in contingency costs. The project is expected to be completed by mid-May 2016.

View Assessment Commission denies permits for Solana Highlands project

The proposed reconstruction of Solana Highlands took a step backward Oct. 20 when the city’s View Assessment Commission unanimously denied a development review permit and a structure development permit for the project. Commissioners came to their decision after a two-day special meeting, in which they heard from a dozen community members who said the project would affect their views. Other residents who did not file view assessment claims also shared their concerns.

H.G. Fenton Company, which purchased the property at South Nardo and Stevens avenues in 1998, has proposed to demolish and rebuild Solana Highlands, a complex of 196 apartments and four multifamily homes, built in 1972. The project calls for 315,869 square feet of residential space, a 10,287-square-foot clubhouse and leasing office, 50,600 square feet of garage parking, 256,355 square feet of landscaping and 67,156 square feet of open space on the 13.4-acre site.

After more than seven hours, the View Assessment Commission denied the project in a 5-0 vote. With the commission’s advisory vote, the council will ultimately make the final decision on the project.

Council creates Climate Action Commission

The council on Nov. 4 formally created a Climate Action Commission, moving another step forward to developing a climate action plan for the city. To assist with the plan’s development, the advisory group will help update the city’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory, set reduction targets, implement mitigation measures and perform periodic monitoring, verification and evaluations. The nine-member commission will include a cross-section of community members representing all sectors of the city.

Community gets first look at train station proposals

Community members learned about four competing proposals for the development of the Solana Beach Transit Center during two workshops in November. With approval from the council, the North County Transit District solicited and received proposals for a mixed-use development at the train station and adjacent property, both of which are owned by the district. Chesnut Properties of Solana Beach, Dahlin Group of Solana Beach, Strategic Assets Group of San Diego and Creative Housing Associates of Los Angeles displayed their concepts and discussed their proposals during the workshops. Representatives from each group stressed that their proposals were still in the early stages, and that they intended to gather input from residents, the city and the transit district.

City updates water efficient landscape ordinance

To comply with the state of California’s regulations, the council on Nov. 18 unanimously agreed to update the city’s water efficient landscape ordinance. The new law increases water efficiency standards for new and existing landscapes through improved irrigation systems, greywater usage and onsite storm water capture and by limiting the portion of landscapes that can be covered in turf.

Council appoints David Zito as city’s new mayor

In a unanimous vote, the council on Dec. 9 appointed David Zito as the city’s new mayor and Councilman Peter Zahn as deputy mayor. Having served as deputy mayor throughout the last year, Zito replaced outgoing Mayor Lesa Heebner. A Solana Beach resident since 1991, Zito was elected to the council in 2012. This is his first term as mayor, a position that rotates annually among council members.