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Jewel Edson in race for Solana Beach’s District 3

SOLANA BEACH — Solana Beach Mayor Jewel Edson earlier this month announced her candidacy for reelection, this time representing the city’s newly established District 3.

Until now, Solana Beach has elected all its city councilmembers at-large — from the entire city, representing the entire city — with each councilor rotating through the mayoral seat.

This year, for the first time, Solana Beach residents will choose its mayor at-large, plus one councilor each from Districts 1 and 3, new political subdivisions. Voters will elect councilors for Districts 2 and 4 in 2022, completing the transition from at-large to district council elections.

District 3 stretches along the city’s southern border, adjacent to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack.

Edson has lived in Solana Beach for more than 20 years and spoke about some of the top issues that pertain to District 3.

“Ongoing events and potential future development, redevelopment or repurposing of the 22nd [District Agricultural Association] property [i.e., the Del Mar Fairgrounds], while impactful to our entire city, are especially felt by District 3,” Edson told The Coast News. “While the proposed Marisol Resort was defeated by Del Mar voters, responsible development of that site is of particular importance to many District 3 residents.”

Other important issues include “pro-active management of our beaches and fragile coastline” and “continuing to grow our city while preserving the wonderful qualities of the neighborhoods we treasure,” she said.

With regard to how she’ll prioritize or balance district-specific interests and citywide interests, should the two come into conflict, Edson said: “I recognize the importance of doing my homework, keeping an open mind, listening attentively and being responsive to community inputs. … I have a successful track record of managing the often conflicting goals presented to our city.”

Edson said in a press release she’s “a longtime advocate for the Solana Beach business community.”

She owns J2 Strategy, LCC — a Solana Beach-based technology consulting firm — and acts as its managing director. She also sits on the council’s business liaison standing committee.

The committee means “to coordinate and communicate with the chamber of commerce, Cedros [Avenue] Merchants Associations, and Village Walk (Highway 101) Association on city/business issues,” according to the city’s web site.

Edson has served on the council since 2016, and before that on the city’s View Assessment Commission. The latter commission adjudicates “view impairment issues” between development applicants and neighboring “property owners directly affected,” according to the city web site.

Edson has also acted in various volunteer capacities, including on the city chamber of commerce’s board of directors.

“Our city is facing a period of unprecedented challenges, including the pandemic, financial uncertainty, state legislation that threatens local governance, and community concerns about equality and racial justice,” she said in a press release.

In order to address these challenges, Edson touted council’s building up of financial reserves prior to COVID-19 and her ability to leverage relationships with county, state and federal officials in lobbying for resources.

Email Edson at [email protected]

District 3J2 StrategyJewel EdsonLCCSolana BeachSours:

Jewel Edson becomes new Solana Beach mayor

Solana Beach City Councilwoman Jewel Edson became the city’s new mayor Dec. 11, during the annual rotation of the five council members.

City Councilwoman Judy Hegenauer is the new deputy mayor.

Most of the reorganization ceremony was devoted to honoring City Councilman David Zito, whose term as mayor came to an end. Zito had been holding the post since mid 2018, following Ginger Marshall’s unexpected resignation. He was also mayor from Dec. 2015 through 2016.

“Being mayor has been very interesting and challenging at times, but it’s also been very rewarding,” said Zito, whose current term on the City Council runs through 2020. “We have a wonderful city.”

Zito mentioned improvements on Glenmont Drive, the skate park opening, restrictions on single-use plastics, safe-storage requirements for firearms and an art installation at the fire station as a few of the city’s achievements over his past year as mayor.

City Manager Greg Wade also mentioned Zito’s role in advocating for a Community Choice Energy program to offer residents a cleaner energy alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric. Solana Beach launched its own CCE before partnering with Del Mar and Carlsbad this year to form the Clean Energy Alliance.

“Having a mayor as knowledgeable as Dave to help go out to the community, meet with [homeowners associations] and meet with the community and advocate for that effort was very helpful to say the least,” said Wade, who presented Zito with a plaque of recognition for his year as mayor.

Zito also received a gift and card from the other four council members.

“You have been an amazing mayor, colleague, role model and friend,” City Councilwoman Kelly Harless said.

The city of Solana Beach will transition away from its longtime model of electing five at-large council members starting in November 2020.

The city has been divided into four districts, and residents from each one will elect a representative on the council. For the first time since the city’s founding in 1986, the mayor will be a separately elected position by all Solana Beach voters.

The change was made last year in response to a letter to the city by attorney Kevin Shenkman, who claimed the at-large City Council elections were in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. City staff members said they did not believe there was a violation, but made the change anyway to avoid incurring the cost of the legal challenge.

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Meet the Candidates: Solana Beach Mayor and District 3

The Nov. 3 election will be the first Solana Beach election since the city switched from an at-large election, in which the whole city voted on every council seat and the title of mayor rotated each year, to district-based elections. The city now has four council districts and the mayor is elected separately.

Solana Beach business owner and former Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner is the only mayoral candidate on the ballot. Incumbent Councilman David Zito is the only Solana Beach City Council candidate on the ballot for voters in District 1, and Solana Beach Mayor Jewel Edson is the only Solana Beach City Council candidate on the ballot in District 3. See bio information and responses to three questions below from Lesa Heebner and Jewel Edson. David Zito was unable to provide his submission by press time.

Jewel Edson

Occupation: Elected to City Council in 2016, I currently serve the residents of Solana Beach as Mayor within Council rotation. In my role as a Council Member I also represent Solana Beach and North County on a number of local and regional boards, committees and commissions. I serve on the City’s Business Liaison Committee and Public Arts Commission and on the 22nd DAA (Fairgrounds) Community Relations Committee (CRC).

My regional responsibilities include serving on the boards of directors of the North County Transit District (NCTD); the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency; and FACT (Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation). I represent the North County Coastal region on SANDAG’s Transportation Commission; I am Solana Beach’s alternate on the SANDAG board of directors; and I previously served on SANDAG’s Public Safety Committee. On NCTD, I sit on the Executive Committee and I am the Chair of Marketing Sales Planning and Business Development (MSPBD). This year I was invited by the Secretary of Transportation to join the State’s Del Mar Bluffs Stabilization Working Group and Regional Sub-Working Group.

In addition to City Council, I own and operate a small business in the tech space focused on GTM (go-to-market) strategy and execution in the semiconductor, wireless and software industries. My professional background includes successful leadership and management positions in both large and small companies. Previously, I was director of operations for a tech start-up responsible for HR and finance. Earlier, as senior event planner at Qualcomm, I conceived and managed HR projects and special events. Self-motivated and hardworking, my early career was spent in real estate and mortgage banking.

Education: Pasadena City College; real estate license; insurance license; Le Cordon Bleu: certificate in gourmet cuisine; Sogetsu School (Tokyo): certificate levels 1-3; and a personal commitment to lifelong learning.

Community Service:

A 24-year resident, I have volunteered extensively for our community. Prior to my election to Council, I served 11 years as a Solana Beach City Commissioner, including many years as Chair of the View Assessment Commission. On the board of directors of the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce I promoted our city and local businesses. I lead a successful neighborhood utility undergrounding project. And, I served as our city’s appointed representative on a San Diego County panel. As a private citizen, I attended City Council meetings and community workshops, passed petitions and spoke in front of Council on issues I believed warranted support or opposition.

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the City of Solana Beach?

Solana Beach faces unprecedented challenges, including the global pandemic and economic downturn, State legislation that threatens local governance, and community concerns about social justice and equality. Other relevant issues include: the 6th Cycle (2021-2029) Housing Element Update (with our city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation from SANDAG, coming in at a whopping 875 units); moving the Lomas Santa Fe Corridor project forward; climate change: including air quality and sea-level rise which impacts to our fragile bluffs; and events and other potential changes on the Fairgrounds property.

Ensuring large development projects both fit and benefit our community is always of paramount importance. Solana Beach incorporated in 1986 to gain local control after a number of impactful decisions made by the County without considering community input. Finding balance between often conflicting goals while maintaining our community’s unique beach town charm and quality of life are guaranteed to keep Council busy.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?

Solana Beach is recognized as a desirable and well-managed city. As a returning Councilmember, I reaffirm my commitment to protect our neighborhoods and promote efficient government. An independently-minded and fiscally conservative small business owner, I will continue to fulfill this pledge through pursuit of local, state and federal funding to create programs that benefit our residents and small businesses, especially those impacted by the pandemic; prudent financial oversight of the City’s budget; stewardship of our public spaces; and by continuing to apply the Solana Beach Municipal Code to make tough, informed and balanced land use decisions that ensure future development projects enrich our community. I’ll continue to work with the Sheriff on policing policy; and with the Fairgrounds, Caltrans and surrounding jurisdictions to revise traffic plans so the “carmageddon” that occurred in mid-2018 is not repeated, public safety around large events increases, and impacts to surrounding neighborhoods are mitigated.

3. Do you agree with the way the City of Solana Beach operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made.

I’m proud to serve on a Council that has improved our City’s overall environment. We’ve adopted a Climate Action Plan; updated and expanded park space, added walking paths and created safer routes for our children to walk to school; built La Colonia Skatepark; supported Harbaugh Seaside Trails; added sidewalks and made significant ADA improvements. All while maintaining a balanced budget, reducing pension obligations and building reserves.

Council approved projects that once built will better our community, add activities, and increase housing at all levels. Our fragile bluffs have benefitted from the import of sand that nourishes our beaches, slows erosion, and expands recreational use. Successful lobbying for Federal funds, brought real progress toward securing sand replenishment for decades to come. Working diligently with the Fairgrounds I helped negotiate a fairer share of revenue from certain future events. City staff is lean, committed and hardworking but I believe in continuous improvement.

Lesa Heebner

Occupation: Business Owner

Education: BA in History, University of California, San Diego

Community Service: 2002–2004 View Assessment Commission; 2004–2016 City Council member (rotated into position of Mayor 3 times); 2018 (filled Council seat when unexpectedly vacated).

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the City of Solana Beach

The first challenge Solana Beach will be facing has to do with increased demand from the region and State to build more dense housing in our already dense City. Second is the need to re-envision the mission and business plan for the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and third is managing the ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?

Every decade, the State assigns a certain number of housing units to each region. In San Diego, SANDAG allocates them to each City. This cycle, in a completely inequitable process, SANDAG allocated to our small City 875 units, or a requirement to zone for 16% more housing units, and show progress in having them built over the next 8 years. At the same time, the State legislature is radically increasing density in all neighborhoods without requiring new parking or affordable units. These mandates will overcrowd schools, jam streets, destroying the very reason we live here. I’ll fight for compatible, quality development and smarter State policies, including financial subsidies to build affordable housing that fits our neighborhoods and commercial districts.

The pandemic is devastating our businesses and will seriously damage City finances. I served on Council during the Great Recession, and understand how to protect our budget and our resident services.

The future of the Del Mar Fairgrounds is grim. Who will be in control and how it redevelops will impact Solana Beach forever. We must have a strong, experienced and creative voice at the table to help craft what’s next.

3. Do you agree with the way the City of Solana Beach operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made?

I support our current Council and look forward to joining them. New issues for us to tackle include making sure our Sheriff contract reflects policies ensuring equal treatment of all races and genders by our Sheriff deputies, and that mental health professionals are available to join them on calls when appropriate.

Additionally, the most frequent complaints I hear from residents concern the process for completing a remodel. The procedure for residential remodels must be made easier. Residents deserve a roadmap in advance that outlines the entire process, including timelines and fees.

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