SOLANA BEACH — Nine months away from the end of his third term, Solana Beach City Councilman Mike Nichols resigned his seat, effective March 12.
In a letter dated March 11 to City Manager Greg Wade, Nichols said he was stepping down “to handle pressing family matters.”
“It has been an honor to serve on the City Council since my election in 2006, including my three terms as Mayor,” he wrote. “I will miss my involvement on the City Council, but I need to focus on my family at this time. I sincerely appreciate the understanding of my colleagues and the community regarding my decision to resign.”
Prior to his first election to City Council, Nichols was a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission from 2002 to 2006. He served as chairman from 2004 to 2006.
He was re-elected to City Council in 2010 and appointed in 2014 when there were an equal number of candidates for the two vacant seats. He served as mayor, a position that rotates annually in Solana Beach, in 2009, 2013 and 2017.
The principal landscape architect for Nichols Design Group, he received his bachelor of landscape architecture from the University of Georgia and master of city planning from San Diego State University.
“I was quite surprised by Mike’s sudden resignation,” Mayor Ginger Marshall said. “Although we disagreed on many issues, I do commend him for his service to the community and wish him and his family the best.”
“I have always valued Mike’s insights and experience as his extensive training in planning has brought a well-trained and unique view to the council,” Councilman Dave Zito said. “He also is very committed and I doubt there has been anyone who worked harder on behalf of our community. For these reasons and many others, he will be sorely missed.”
“Mike Nichols has dedicated over 18 years of his life to public service in Solana Beach,” former Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said. “Even before his election, he contributed greatly to the effort to redesign the Coastal Rail Trail to make it what it is today.
“As a landscape architect professional, he designed our beautiful and iconic Fletcher Cove Park,” she added. “As a council member, he contributed greatly to the design of the Highway 101 renovation, Fletcher Cove Overlook Park, the La Colonia master plan and each one of its components that have been built, or are ready to be built to this day, such as the Veterans Honor Courtyard and skateboard feature.
“Mike’s numerous contributions also include who he is — a smart and personable family man who knows where his priorities lie,” Heebner said. “I wish him the best.”
The remaining council members will discuss their options to fill his seat at the March 28 meeting. According to government code, they must appoint someone or call for a special election within 60 days of Nichols’ March 12 resignation, or May 11.
“If the council calls a special election (it) shall be held on the next regularly established election date not less than 114 days from the call of the special election,” the code states.
Since the next regularly scheduled election is Nov. 6 — more than 114 days from May 11 — the end result is leaving the seat vacant until then.
If an appointment is made, that person could run in November to possibly maintain the seat.
In his resignation letter, Nichols stated that if his former colleagues choose to appoint someone, his hope is that they “will honor the voters who elected me by selecting a person that genuinely holds, respects, and will continue the values and philosophy of governance that I brought to my service on the Council.
“When I was elected … I committed to protecting our quality of life in Solana Beach, to continue our City’s strong commitment to environmental sustainability, and resist the pressures of over-development that can threaten the character of our small beach community and our quality of life,” he added.