Assemblywoman posthumously honors first mayor of Solana Beach

Although Solana Beach recently lost its first mayor, Margaret Schlesinger’s memory lives on.

Recognizing her impact on the community, California Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins posthumously honored Schlesinger as one of the 78th Assembly District’s 2016 “Woman of the Year” honorees March 18 in a local celebration of Women’s History Month. Schlesinger died Feb. 9 at the age of 80.

“Solana Beach might not even be a city without former Mayor Schlesinger, and her leadership on the City Council was applauded by the community,” Atkins said. “Each year, I look forward to honoring women for their extraordinary contributions to our region and Margaret is a perfect example of this dedication. I’m grateful for her long-time service — she will be missed.”

Schlesinger played an important part in the city’s incorporation in 1986. She was the top vote-getter elected to the City Council that year, and her fellow council members appointed her as mayor.

The people who pushed for Solana Beach’s incorporation did so in part because San Diego County approved plans for a hotel on a piece of coastal property previously known as the Gateway property. The 3.44-acre parcel sits along the east side of Coast Highway 101, across from Cardiff State Beach and south of the San Elijo Lagoon.

Now named Harbaugh Seaside Trails, the parcel that had long been pursued by developers is now forever preserved thanks to donations from the community. Schlesinger was on site for the January 2015 naming ceremony.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” she said at the time. “It is just so wonderful. It’s a gift for the community.”

Schlesinger also helped get the Solana Beach public transit center constructed on Cedros Avenue and the railroad tracks lowered below street level in the 1990s. She served on the council until 1994, but remained active in the community and local organizations, including the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society.

“I’m proud of her legacy and what she’s done for the community,” said Schlesinger’s daughter, Ann Garrett, who accepted the award on her behalf. “It just goes to show that her legacy lives on.”