Lorie Zapf sure has given lots of signals that she isn’t a big fan of being a city councilwoman.

Zapf has made it through two hard-fought elections, first for an open seat in 2010 and then for another technically open seat four years later. The city’s district lines changed around her home so she went from representing District 6, the neighborhoods surrounding Clairemont, to District 2, San Diego’s beach and bay communities.

Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts had Zapf on our podcast a few weeks ago, and she joked that she laments to her District 6 successor Chris Cate about how things are different in her new neighborhoods.

“Sometimes I long for the peace and quiet of District 6,” Zapf said.

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Zapf’s current district is one of the most active in the city and with some problems and idiosyncrasies that make it hard to manage. Ocean Beach is its own world. Point Lomans went to war a few years back over rogue stop signs.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer understood the delicate District 2 dance well. The 30-foot height limit is seen as a sacred barrier along the coast. When we brought up the fact that it might be driving up housing prices, Faulconer said in no uncertain circumstances that it should never, ever change.

For Zapf, the issue du jour has been the rise of Airbnb and other vacation rentals, which has created a regulatory sticky wicket and a fierce fight between people who want to rent their homes and neighbors who don’t want rentals.

“I get hammered from both sides,” Zapf said during the podcast.

Zapf’s first attempt to write new regulations failed last year. She said she’s going to try again in the spring.

Because Zapf’s current term is in a new district, city rules allow her to run for re-election even though she will have served eight years by that point. But in talking on the podcast about her priorities – improving opportunities for foster kids being a big one – she didn’t sound all that enthused about sticking around for a while:

Zapf: I want to make the last three years, the next three years that I have here, really count.

Lewis: Oh, that’s interesting. Did you just break news? You’re not running again?

Zapf: You know what, I never take anything for granted. For what I was elected, I have three years.

Lewis: Because of the switch of district you’re allowed to pursue another term, right?

Zapf: Technically, yeah I guess I am. But I guess we’ll see what the people want. There were term limits. I don’t know. Like I said, I’m not taking anything for granted.

Keatts: I wouldn’t blame you. It doesn’t seem like a fun job.

Zapf: For the next three years. I would really like to make it count with the kids. I love my job. I love my job.

Lewis: I’m sure. It radiates.

Zapf’s chief of staff Kelly Batten, who gamely played along for this post, told me that Zapf was caught off guard by Lewis’ response to her statement about only being around for another three years. Zapf, truly, Batten said, is only thinking one term at a time. And Zapf really does love being a councilwoman, Batten said.

“If you didn’t love it,” Batten said, “you couldn’t do it.”

Zapf is hardly the first San Diego politician to seem sometimes less than enamored with her job. Former Mayor Jerry Sanders was famously grumpy. Indeed, the only time Sanders seemed happy as mayor was when he was drinking a beer.

    This article relates to: City Council, Government, Must Reads

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    Nicole Larson
    Nicole Larson subscriber

    I hope she doesn't run for reelection. She clearly isn't interested in the beach communities and doesn't seem to want to represent us.

    Yes, we have tough issues, which she's done nothing to help. In addition to refusing to protect residents and especially tenants against the rapidly proliferating short term vacation rentals, she's being hammered for doing nothing to protect local businesses against DecoBikes, who have opened up bike stands right by local bike rental businesses, and refusing to do anything about the degradation of the business district from oversaturation of liquor licenses.

    I'm sure she thought representing PB and OB would be a job she could sleep-walk through, but we have lots of issues that have nothing to do with protecting vulnerable foster children.

    It would be great to have an open seat again. Then we can elect someone who really wants to represent us, like Ed Harris, rather than a political hack sponsored by the Lincoln Club, Chamber of Commerce and downtown business interests who only does their bidding and cares nothing about the communities.

    ZachW subscriber

    Zapf shouldn't be doing this job if she doesn't like it, it's not as if she's good at it. Compare her underwhelming lack-luster performance on the council to David Alvarez who is a champion for his constituents and who you can tell genuinely likes representing the people of his district. She shouldn't run again

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    You got that right about Alvarez. I either see him or his staff numerous times a week in Barrio Logan checking on things. I even see him riding his bike to work as I drop my son off at school. He's a ubiquitous presence in D8.

    Dan Beeman
    Dan Beeman subscriber

    Ms.Zapf really didn't do anything for our district (6) while she was in office...maybe why she ran for the seat. But because her party (in non-partisan representations) moved to have the district boundaries changed, leaving out Linda Vista & other neighborhoods, she was forced to take on another district. 

    Why did she take on the new job? Two reasons: First to keep majority of party/partisan control of City Council, second to get a chance to run for mayor. I believe this is a "give-me" for helping party fill two seats on city council, and for being the main backer of the current Mayor (wanna be Governor).

    Now I've said my opinion for years now. And if the current mayor gets the feather in is cap of keeping the Chargers, at the publics expense, he will have an accomplishment to sell the state wide party leadership. Truly we have seen little real accomplishment from him. He was in office when all the problems began (on his watch) and now he is finally fixing the problems he and former councils have created. Not get San Diego ahead, but getting us back towards where we should be, at our expense plus BILLIONS more in costs.

      We really deserve better in San Diego. We deserve to see Police body camera footage (especially in killings), we deserve get ALL veterans (in this military town) off the streets (homelessness), we deserve repaired infrastructure & savings pool(fund) to keep them in good repair, we deserve survivable wages/incomes, affordable housing, safe parks with free available parking for SD residents, safe drinking water, unpolluted streets, waterways, & beaches, fair utility rates (from a non-monopoly), a working transit/transportation system (not just for wealthy working class), more parks, lighting, sidewalks and above living wage jobs!



    Dan Beeman
    Dan Beeman subscriber

    @Bill Bradshaw @Dan Beeman 

    Mr. Bradshaw,

    Notice I said "for SD residents", because I believe we are giving something away to the millions who come to San Diego & use our parks/beaches for free. That is one way I believe in getting revenue for "we deserve". My list is a general list of what most citizens I think feel they deserve via government. Jobs & incomes should be from business community, but here in San Diego they are better at taking than giving.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Dan Beeman Hey, Dan, I'm underwhelmed by Ms. Zapf's representation of my area (Mission Beach) so far.  I have concerns about who's side she's on.  

    That's really quite a list of "we deserves" you rattled off.  Any ideas on how to pay for it?  It might require going  beyond the standard "get rid of waste, fraud and abuse".

    By the way, when you talk about free parking at our parks, I think you got a brain cramp.  The parking at our beaches and all around Mission Bay Park is totally free, something absolutely unique in California.  I don't recall paid parking at Balboa Park, although there is a small "valet" area near the Prado restaurant.  I've visited several other parks in San Diego and don't remember any of them with parking fees.  Have I missed something?