Attempt to Stop Pacific Airshow Settlement Denied by Judge

Attempt to Stop Pacific Airshow Settlement Denied by Judge

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the Huntington Beach Pier during the Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Oct. 1, 2021. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

7/27/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

An attempt to stop the $5 million Pacific Airshow settlement between the city of Huntington Beach and air show operator Code Four was dismissed by a judge July 26.
Former Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman and former Planning Commissioner Mark Bixby filed a lawsuit against the city June 29, arguing that the settlement is an “unlawful gift of public funds,” and that the city’s first payment—due July 31—should be stopped immediately.
An emergency request in the suit to stop the city’s first settlement payment was initially rejected by an Orange County Superior Court Judge last month who was filling in for presiding Judge Martha Gooding.
Judge Gooding made the latest ruling to dismiss.
The settlement, announced by city officials in May, was the result of a lawsuit filed against the city by the operator of the air show in 2021 after the final day of its three-day event was canceled due to an oil spill, where 25,000 gallons of crude oil leaked through a cracked pipeline into the ocean off the city’s coast.
Efforts are underway in to clean an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Oct. 5, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Efforts are underway in to clean an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Oct. 5, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Up to an additional $2 million could also be dished out in related funds if the city files its own lawsuit—and prevails—against Amplify Energy, the pipeline operator involved in the oil spill, which mostly affected Huntington Beach.
Judge Gooding ruled that Ms. Boardman and Mr. Bixby as residents have no right to intervene in a settlement between the city and a private company.
“Intervenors have not cited any authority for the broad proposition that they must be allowed to intervene in litigation between the government and a private party because of their status as residents and taxpayers,” she wrote in the Wednesday ruling.
Attorney for the former public officials, Lee Fink, told The Epoch Times via email that the ruling was just procedural, and the decision wasn’t based on the lawsuit’s merits.
“We are confident that when the Court looks at the case on the merits it will come to the same conclusion that most people who have seen this case—it is totally improper for the City of Huntington Beach to give $7 Million of taxpayer money to settle a wholly meritless lawsuit when the City had no liability for the oil spill,” he wrote.
According to Mr. Fink, a separate “action,” or claim would need to be filed to push forward with the lawsuit.
Workers clean an oil spill along the coastline in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Oct. 5, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Workers clean an oil spill along the coastline in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Oct. 5, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Ms. Boardman told The Epoch Times she and the former planning commissioner are considering their options.
“We’re disappointed of course that we weren’t allowed to intervene, but we’re going to take a look at if there’s other pathways to move forward or not,” she said.
In a social media post following the ruling, Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates announced a Mayor’s Town Hall will take place Aug. 30 to provide an update on the air show and lawsuits involved.
“The last Town Hall like this was attended by over 300 people. Huge events like this shouldn’t be missed,” he wrote.
Gina Clayton-Tarvin—vice president of Ocean View School District—also filed a lawsuit against Huntington Beach seeking full disclosure of the settlement agreement, after her request for such to the city was denied. Currently, no hearing date has been set in her case.
Kevin Elliot, the owner of Code Four, which operates the air show, told The Epoch Times he was relieved after the recent ruling and focused on the upcoming air show—which will run from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.
“I think the judge made the right decision. I’m excited to put this nonsense behind me, or behind us and the city, frankly, and get on to the business of producing a great event for the city and the residents,” he said.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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