Staying busy saving the world is easy.
Saving your community, now that’s hard.
In this edition:
- Non-Toxic News
- Is HB Too Wet?
- Downtown to Get Some TLC
- More Bad News for Roundup
- Sober-Living Homes: Out-of-the-Box Thinking
- Restributing Homelessness?
- The “Uber” of Potholes?
- General Plan Update
- Pension Liability Update
- 17th St. Park / Old Rodgers Site Update
- Here We Go Again with District Elections
- Overpriced Trash Rates to Increase?
- Enjoy HB at a Concert in the Park!
In two months, staff will have a preliminary report on its work in Central Park West implementing the same non-toxic Integrated Pest Management principles Irvine has been successfully using city-wide for over a year.
Public Works is currently researching potential methods, including meeting with the City of Irvine as well as using information provided by Non-Toxic Irvine. Staff is in the process of developing the Council-recommended pilot program and will be providing status updates to City Council every three months for one year.
Public Works is already testing organic pesticides and says it will have polices by August when the Council is poised to consider expanding the program. It will then ask for Council action or provide an update depending on the information now being developed.
WILL YOU HELP?
- We need… speakers at Council meetings supporting Non-Toxic HB
- We need… folks to sign our petition
- We need… to spread the word!
Contact us at email@example.com
Wet City, USA
Remember the news stories about how our city was the DUI capital? The state’s most recent numbers from 2014 show we’ve dropped from #1 to #6. Great! But don’t get too excited: it turns out that’s the sound of others scrambling up that inauspicious list rather than Surf City working its way down. Our city’s actual numbers remain stable, if slightly upward-trending:
In fact, while our “rank” might be improved, our numbers, reported by the state’s Office of Traffic Safety, are the third highest they’ve ever been. Why should that be? For that matter, what might we predict about our more recent DUI numbers for 2015-2017, and beyond?
The sheer number of bars downtown seems a logical place to start. Test your HB trivia: how many locations serve or sell alcohol in our two downtown tracts (Main Street and Pacific City)? 20? 25? 30?
The actual number is 68 active ABC licenses. We know of no precedent for this.
But surely this number is holding steady and not increasing, you suppose? You’d suppose incorrectly. In fact, 25-30 alcoholic-beverage establishments would have been a fine guess circa 2010. But figures from past years could not have predicted the current number of alcohol licenses. Of the 68 licenses, 19 are in the new Pacific City tract, representing a 40% increase downtown since 2014. And this does not include 3-4 pending or yet-to-be-listed ABC licenses, with at least one approval expected imminently.
Here’s a snapshot of the rate of lubrication downtown. See if you find the orange bars probative of DUIs, crime, safety, or other quality-of-life concerns:
(Historical numbers include only those licenses still active today.)
Well, surely the new servers are the more respectable types, and not just seedy bars? Some, sure. But there’s a growing trend toward serving till the wee hours, and leadership seems bullish about it. The latest license approved by the ABC and the City indulged a 2:00 a.m. closing time, overriding Resolution 2013-24 that would have required a midnight closing time. It is the first post-midnight deviation since at least 2010. We also understand Pacific City may continue adding ABC licenses, roughly half with 2:00 a.m. closing times based on their original project CUP.
So leadership is optimistic about not only increasing the number of licenses but also their scope. Are 4:00 a.m. closing times in our future? The state is poised to allow it.
All told, after pending licenses issue, we estimate a total number of ABC licenses between 69 and 71 in our two downtown tracts. This concentration, representing roughly one ABC license for every 100 residents — six times ABC’s own guidelines — may be the highest in the entire state of California. Our downtown is wetter than Irvine Spectrum, Downtown Disney, Fullerton, Newport Beach, even downtown Long Beach. Is there any precedent for this?
Truly, if the police department is able to bring our DUI numbers out of triple digits, someone deserves a medal. But DUIs are only one incomplete measure of the overall impact to quality of life downtown.
Let us confront our leadership with these facts. They may split hairs over them. Or they may embrace them. But they must not ignore them.
Here are some more stories from around our community the past month:
QUALITY OF LIFE
The “gateway” to our city in getting some long-overdue TLC after a recent unanimous vote instructed staff to prepare a list of repairs and cleanup work.
ROUNDING UP ROUNDUP
Monsanto’s fate continues to wilt: “800+ people with cancer are suing Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, claiming the glyphosate-based herbicide made them sick, and the company did little to warn the consumers, despite full well knowing cancer risks existed.” This is based on previous reporting that EPA officials squashed investigations into glyphosate and used Monsanto-ghostwritten studies.
The number of lawsuits against the maker of the ubiquitous herbicide is expected to continue increasing, possibly into the thousands by the end of the year.
Glyphosate is now listed as a probable carcinogen under California’s Prop 65.
SOBER LIVING HOMES
Sober-living homes are the largest single contributor to the 50-75% increase in homeless in our communities in the past few years. Among other things, their operators engage in what is known as “curbing”: “When they [residents] run out of insurance or they break some rule… they put them in a van and drop them off at the park with their luggage and say good luck.”
Costa Mesa’s city council recently voted on a plan to address these negative impacts of sober-living homes. From KPCC:
“All sober living home operators would now have to pay for evicted residents to get back to their permanent home or to an alternative sober living home or treatment facility.
“Operators would also have to connect evicted residents with local homeless services to make sure they don’t get left out on the street.
“The city also plans to start keeping a list of sober living homes on its website with their regulatory status, and require them to disclose information about their business structure.”
Less than half of Costa Mesa’s 180(!) sober-living homes are licensed to offer treatment, with the rest being halfway houses.
Cities are barred under state law from passing land-use restrictions on licensed sober-living houses of six or fewer residents. (Health & Safety Code, § 11834.23.) Costa Mesa’s inventive regulation is directed at the operation of the facility’s business, and thus arguably avoids running afoul of the state protections that have bedeviled cities and concerned residents.
It might be a model for Huntington Beach.
Also note a possible relaxation of another layer of legal complexity under the federal Fair Housing Act. Proposed HR472, entitled the Safe Recovery and Community Empowerment Act, would amend the FHA so it does not prevent cities from making reasonable zoning and land use restrictions on sober-living facilities.
Many have already heard about the proposal by OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson of Fullerton to install a homeless shelter in Huntington Beach, next door to the Sports Complex where we recently had a fatal shooting involving a deranged homeless man. The City’s Public Information Office promptly issued a “whoa, there, fella” on its Facebook page. And Councilman O’Connell had some choice words for Supe Nelson.
Rather than delegating the problem to the other end of the county, some volunteers raised money to buy some portable toilets for homeless at the Santa Ana riverbed. Anaheim officials objected that they required a $1 million insurance policy. The seats are already covered with fecal matter.
There are more than 200 homeless in our city, but remember, only a minority of them want help, with an estimated 80% wanting to stay on the streets. Of the remaining, a minority — a significant minority, but still a minority — suffer mental illness or substance abuse (that they will admit). That means most of the problem is people who’ve gone feral. Only so much banging our collective head against a wall’s gonna do anything for them. Maybe instead consider writing in the memo line of future ACLU checks, “no more homeless litigation.”
Is that pothole fixed yet? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to check online? Check out Costa Mesa’s new Road Condition interactive database.
GENERAL PLAN UPDATE
The draft General Plan Update (GPU) and draft Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be available for a 45-day public review and comment period starting May 22, 2017 through July 7, 2017. Comments should be provided in writing to Jennifer Villasenor, City of Huntington Beach Community Development Department, 2000 Main Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Huntington Beach must pay another $23 million to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System pension fund over the next few years, an agency representative said at Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Kerry Worgan, a senior CalPERS actuary, said the city will have to contribute another $23 million over a few years, due to a half-point decrease in the assumed investment returns from 7.5% to 7%.”
Councilmembers Billy O’Connell and Erik Peterson had critical words in response:
“We have huge needs in this city,” O’Connell said. “Do you realize the impact you’re having on our city? The impact you’re having on this state with all these jurisdictions you represent is terrible.”
17TH STREET PARK
The old senior center on 17th and Orange is now being used for community activities… including as overflow for the already booked new Senior Center. See the Community Services Facebook page.
Non-profits can also book space for community events.
HB’s Preserve Our Past wants the park’s original name, 17th Street Park, to be restored. HBT supports this effort.
This old hobby horse is making the rounds again. Shenkman and Hughes, the Malibu legal firm that has the goal of making cities change to District Elections, sent an April letter alleging our council elections disenfranchise local Latino voters. Several years ago our city considered changing, more because areas of the city with recognized identities, ex: Southeast HB, Huntington Harbour, wanted their own council person. We stayed with open elections.
City Attorney Michael Gates responded that Latino residents are not concentrated in certain areas of the city. With 19% of residents Latino, they represent 13% of voters and a change to district elections would, according to Gates, give them 23% influence over a single candidate instead of 13% influence over all council candidates in an open election.
According to May26, 2017 Daily Pilot article, Palmdale and Costa Mesa switched to District Elections. Of 482 CA Cities, 59 have district elections. Shenkman litigated in both cities. We will report if a lawsuit is filed against our city to change our open elections to district based elections.
TRASH-RATE INCREASE ON THE WAY?
Via Rob Pool on the HB Community Forum:
“On Monday our city council will be voting on something that affects all of us- an increase in the refuse rates charged by Rainbow Disposal. In the enclosed document you will see their reasons behind their request. Read it. Digest it. But realize that their reasons are baffling when you realize that the refuse rates for Los Alamitos (a much smaller account for Rainbow) are approximately 40% less than we pay. So, if their costs have increased, why is that? Are you concerned about this issue? Do you want to get involved?”
Generous trash contracts can be a hard habit for cities to break, as Los Alamitos residents learned first-hand a few years ago. They voted in a lowest-responsible-bidder requirement to end a decades-long monopoly. Yet the city still awarded the contract to its favorite, even though there was a lower bid, requiring a court order voiding it.
Huntington Beach Concert Band sponsors its annual Summer Series!
Celebrating their 44th anniversary this year, the Huntington Beach Concert Band will once again sponsor its Summer Series of 11 free Sunday concerts, June 25th to September 3rd in Huntington Beach Central Park. More information on the Concert Band Facebook page.
“The concerts are organized and sponsored by the Huntington Beach Concert Band as a community service,” said Tom Ridley, who has conducted the band for 40 years.
The Huntington Beach Concert Band Summer Series will take place in the natural amphitheater area in the park behind Huntington Beach Central Library, 7111 Talbert Ave. at Goldenwest Street. Concerts start at 5 p.m. All are invited to bring picnic dinners and beach chairs or blankets to enjoy the concerts.