SOLANA BEACH — After nearly three decades of combined service, Mayor Joe Kellejian and Councilman Dave Roberts were recognized and honored by staff members and dozens of community leaders and residents, including three young representatives from Boy Scout Troop 777, at the Dec. 12 City Council meeting.
Kellejian did not seek re-election last month after serving 20 years on the council, including five times as mayor. Roberts stepped down to run successfully for the District 3 seat on the County Board of Supervisors.
While presenting Kellejian with gifts from staff, including an engraved pocket watch to thank him for his “time and dedication to Solana Beach,” City Manager David Ott noted the outgoing mayor had attended 983 meetings since he was first elected in 1992.
During his tenure, Kellejian was instrumental in helping the county’s second smallest city become the first in the continental U.S. to ban smoking on its public beaches.
“Solana Beach is a healthy city,” Kellejian said. “We want to keep it that way.”
Kellejian also played a role in the grade separation to lower the train tracks, both sand replenishment projects and several of the city’s environmental sustainability laws, including the recent ban on single-use plastic bags.
He worked to develop an ongoing shoreline protection project in conjunction with neighboring Encinitas and the Army Corp of Engineers and, since the late 1990s, a Land Use Plan that, after seven versions, may finally be approved by the California Coastal Commission next year.
“Where do you start after 20 years?” he asked. “Serving you folks has been amazing” and the “support has been … fantastic.”
Ott pointed out that Roberts had attended 380 meetings during his eight years on the council.
During that time he, too, was responsible for enacting many of the city’s environmental laws, including the bag ban.
Roberts also supported the arts, built better relationships with businesses, aided with traffic calming and helped establish the Del Sol Lions Club, Ott said.
Roberts said he didn’t consider the projects he worked on as his legacy.
“It’s how we pulled together,” he said. “There is no community like Solana Beach. This is such a special place.”
During the public comment period, which lasted about an hour, Tom Bennett, head of Santa Fe Christian Schools, said Kellejian and Roberts were “models for our community.”
Allen Moffson, president of North Coast Repertory Theatre, described them as “two of the nicest guys I’ve ever known.
“You guys have been exemplary,” he said.
David Crean, head of Solana Beach Little League, called them all-stars and presented both with all-star caps.
Carolyn Cohen, president of the Chamber of Commerce, described Kellejian as a “hero for Solana Beach,” and said Roberts “made it look easy to be in three places at the same time with a smile on your face.”
Allie Dixon, who serves on the Public Arts Advisory Committee, said one of her first memories of Kellejian was watching him on TV, yelling at a California governor to help ease traffic congestion for commuters.
Ed Siegel, founder of the city’s Thursday night singalongs, aptly had everyone in City Hall Chambers sing, “For They Are Jolly Good Fellows.”
Following the recognition ceremony, Peter Zahn and Dave Zito were sworn in as the first new faces on the council since 2006. Lesa Heebner began her third term, and Mike Nichols was named mayor, a position that rotates annually in the city.