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Planning in Solana Beach: Moving the Needle Toward Sustainability

By : August 1, 2017 Comments Off on Planning in Solana Beach: Moving the Needle Toward Sustainability print Share Article
Planning in Solana Beach: Moving the Needle Toward Sustainability
Incorporated on July 1, 1986 the City of Solana Beach took control of its destiny in land use and development. This coastal city of 13,500 residents, 3.4 square miles of land and 0.1 square mile of water area has maintained its small beach town character through deliberate planning and careful review of development in the City. Steven Apple was the City’s first Community Development Director, serving 20 years at the City. Mr. Apple oversaw the preparation and approval of City’s first General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

Private views are protected by the City’s View Assessment Ordinance requiring any structure over 16-feet in height to be physically delineated with story-poles and a 30-day notification review period that gives any resident an opportunity to file a view objection. Solana Beach and Del Mar are the only two cities in the San Diego Region with citywide private view protection ordinances.

Solana Beach does not have a certified Local Coastal Program (LCP). Much of the planning effort in Solana Beach focuses on getting a LCP certified by the California Coastal Commission (CCC). Working cooperatively with CCC staff, sensitive land use issues, primarily related to coastal bluff top development, are being resolved with property owners and environmental advocates. Some of the policies in the City’s Local Coastal Land Use Plan, approved in 2014, have been challenged in court. With this pending litigation, and predicted/observed sea level rise, issues surrounding shoreline protection and climate change adaptability are becoming more critical for the City.

The City of Solana Beach has taken the lead in environmental sustainability in the San Diego Region. It has been at the forefront of many progressive environmental programs and policies including, among other things, being the first in the region to ban single-use plastic bags, banning polystyrene take-out containers, and initiating the first phase of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). Although the City has been at the forefront in adopting these progressive policies and implementing these programs, the City had never officially developed a Climate Action Plan (CAP). This changed on July 12, 2017 when the City Council approved the first CAP for Solana Beach.

The CAP provides a comprehensive roadmap to address the challenges of climate change. This planning effort has been the culmination of years of work dating back to 2007 with the signing of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and the formation of a Climate Action Commission (CAC) in 2016 by the City Council. City Staff and the CAC worked with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to utilize climate planning services through SANDAG’s Energy Roadmap Program. The City of Solana Beach is on a path to form the Region’s first CCA, giving electric ratepayers a choice in purchasing renewable sources of energy.

The many wonderful attributes of Solana Beach makes planning in this City fun and exciting. The Cedros Design District, home of the famous Belly Up Tavern, has a unique commercial character defined by old industrial “Quonset Hut” type buildings adapted with modern upgrades, plentiful works of public art, art studios, retail stores, and architectural and design offices define a sense of place here. The Solana Beach Train Station was designed by local architect Rob Quigley, and a nearby fountain by Lloyd Ruocco marks the intersection of Highway 101 and Plaza Street. Fletcher Cove Beach Park, La Colonia Park, and San Dieguito County Park provide recreational opportunities for the residents and visitors in Solana Beach.

The Coastal Rail Trail spanning the length of Highway 101 in Solana Beach provides a linear park setting with displays of public art, making this major bicycle and vehicular thoroughfare more beautiful and pleasant. The recently completed Highway 101 improvements incorporated the City’s Complete Streets Policies and improved bicycle and pedestrian safety with bicycle lanes in both directions, wider sidewalks, new landscaping, flashing lighted crosswalks, and enhanced bus shelters.

With the City’s new Climate Action Plan, Solana Beach will continue to progress toward a more environmentally sustainable future. Planning for sea level rise and achieving the Coastal Commission’s certification of the City’s LCP will be on the forefront of planning in Solana Beach.