Huntington Beach Mayor Tony Strickland (C) speaks at a city council meeting at the Civic Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Huntington Beach, California, is doing away with its two-decades-long Mobile Home Review Board and Human Relations Committee, as well as a commission on jet noise and three additional ad-hoc committees most of the council said they found to be unnecessary.
The decision comes after three meetings in June and July from an ad hoc committee consisting of Mayor Tony Strickland, Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark, and Councilman Pat Burns formed to discuss which city boards, commissions, and committees could be reduced, combined, or reformed.
Some residents at the Aug. 1 city council meeting spoke against some of the proposed changes, including a group of mobile home residents.
“I don’t know if any member of the city council has ever lived in a mobile home. That gives the city council a very limited frame of reference for matters that impact the 3,000 people that live in mobile homes in Huntington Beach,” one mobile home resident said.
Another resident spoke against dissolving the mobile home advisory board as well as the Human Relations Committee, which was formed in 1997 after the then-city council adopted a Declaration of Policy about Human Dignity in response to an uptick in hate crimes in the community.
“These groups provide much-needed services to our city including assessing and addressing the needs of our residents in mobile homes as well as monitoring hate crimes and working with our police department,” the resident told the council.
The Huntington Beach city council conducts a meeting at the Civic Center chambers in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
But Councilman Casey McKeon argued that the latter was redundant and therefore, unnecessary.
“The Human Relations Commission is duplicative of the efforts by the Orange County Human Relations Commission, which Huntington Beach is a member of and pays nearly $9,000 a year for this membership,” he said.
He also said the purposes of boards and commissions are to encourage engagement by residents in municipal affairs, not private sector matters, like the Mobile Home Review Board which has existed since 1993.
The board works as an advisory body to the city council, through offering a forum for mobile residents in the city to communicate and address quality-of-life issues.
“Time is the most valuable commodity that you have. And these boards and commissions require valuable time and resources from city staff, which should be better focused on the core functions of the city,” Mr. McKeon said.
The council voted 4 to 3 to dissolve the mobile home board, with Councilwoman Natalie Moser, Councilman Dan Kalmick, and Councilwoman Rhonda Bolton voting no.
A separate vote to dissolve the Human Relations Committee, which works with city police to classify hate crimes and report such to the county’s district attorney’s office, yielded the same outcome.
Ms. Moser had argued that the volunteer-based committee wasn’t duplicative of the county’s own commission and had significant value.
“The work that’s done by the Human Relations Committee is really custom tailored to our community. They have a wonderful partnership with the Huntington Beach Police Department, and this has also been going on for over 25 years,” she said.
Mobile homes in Huntington Beach Calif., on June 10, 2022. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)
She said the committee helps portray Huntington Beach as a community where people feel respected and free from violence and discrimination.
“I don’t really see how having a group of committed volunteers who were working to do that would be something that this council would want to remove or take away,” she said.
Ms. Bolton joined Ms. Moser in arguing against the dissolution.
“These are our citizen committees. These are our residents, our constituents. And they don’t want to get rid of these things. And this is not what we’re spending a whole ton of money on,” she said.
The city’s Jet Noise Commission was also dissolved by the same 4 to 3 vote.
Mr. Strickland, who sits on that commission, said he recommended its dissolution because the city isn’t experiencing many issues on jet noise from nearby John Wayne Airport.
“When you look at some of the neighboring cities, you know, we don’t have as much of a problem on this issue,” he said.
But Ms. Bolton said she was disappointed the commission would be dissolved. She recounted that the commission had worked with Southwest Airlines to fly at a higher altitude to Long Beach Airport, which helped reduce airplane noise for Huntington Beach residents living nearby.
“I think that was amazing that they were able to do that,” she said.
An ad hoc committee on short-term rentals, cannabis regulations, and another on housing regulations were also dissolved because “their tasks have been completed and/or are no longer necessary,” according to a presentation by city officials.