Huntington Beach Council Changes Tune on Accident Fees

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The Huntington Beach City Council struck down a controversial accident fee schedule that would have levied fees on city visitors at fault in car accidents that require emergency response.

As I previously reported, different fees would have been charged for various emergency responses. For example, a non-resident causing an accident that required a fire truck would have been billed at $505 an hour.

Councilman Don Hansen made the push to revisit the accident fees in a budget study session two weeks ago after he said he was hearing complaints from some of the largest employers in the city. The employers with concerns — which Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce President Perry Cain said included Boeing and Quiksilver — said fees could hit employees who live outside the city.

Hansen, along with every council member except Devin Dwyer, had originally voted for the accident fees. However, the vote Monday to strike the fees passed, 4-1, with council members Hansen, Dwyer, Cathy Green and Joe Carchio voting for, and only Keith Bohr voting against.

“I think the risk reward for the $100,000 [revenue] that we had projected for this — the risk to us, to our reputation to our employees — in my opinion warrants a second look,” Hansen said at the council meeting last night. “In hindsight now, the impact to our employees — the impact to our reputation — I think it goes too far.”

An August city staff presentation put the net revenue projection at $115,000, but City Administrator Fred Wilson said the figure is actually $80,000. He said the projected revenue had been replaced by matching grant funds, savings earned by not purchasing new computer equipment for city departments and slashing budgeted equipment for the city yard.

Bohr, the only council member who voted to keep the fees, said it would be bad “symbolism” for the council to “cave in on something that makes so much rational sense.”

“If we can’t get enough spine to charge out of town visitors who cause an accident that have insurance that don’t pay property taxes … I mean, how bad are Boeing’s drivers? I think it’s silly,” Bohr said.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

 

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