PBS: Huntington Beach Tries to Tackle Problems Downtown

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Huntington Beach recently formed a task force aimed at making its downtown safer and boosting local businesses, an issue underscored by rioting in the city’s downtown after the U.S. Open of Surfing in July.

Thousands of people flock to Huntington Beach each day to take advantage of the surf, sun and shops.  But with the crowds also come challenges, officials and residents told PBS SoCaL’s David Nazar.

“Sometimes there are issues with some loitering, young people being rowdy. So we’ve installed some surveillance cameras to help reduce those activities,” said Mayor Connie Boardman.

“After 10:30 [p.m.], downtown is mainly a place where you see a lot of folks who are much younger who are coming to party, and they can cause issues,” she said.

“The main complaints that I’m hearing from the downtown residents are disturbing, late at night — loud voices, fighting, partying as people are leaving the bars and going to their cars.  And the impacts of the trash, the impacts of the large crowds that come for some of our very popular events,” Boardman said.

After this summer’s surfing event, a crowd gathered in downtown, with fights breaking out, property vandalized and Main Street left in a mess.

Now city leaders have formed a downtown task force that includes City Council members, downtown residents, restaurant and bar owners and representatives of the downtown business improvement district and chamber of commerce.

“The main goal of the committee is to maintain a vibrant economy downtown, but to reduce the impacts of living in a downtown area on the residents,” said Boardman.  “We want to hear from people in the community, the business owners, the bar owners, the broader community” about how to accomplish those goals.

One local business owner hopes the new task force finds ways to improve business year-round while keeping the area safe.

“We just have so many people coming in and bringing so many problems, such as parking, garbage. There [are] a lot of people not cleaning up after themselves,” said Tina Oh, owner of Beach Island.

The task force also includes staff from the city office of economic development, the Police Department, Planning Department and city attorney’s office.

Its first meeting is set for Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Main Street Library and is open to the public.

The segment aired this week on PBS SoCaL’s “Real Orange.” Click the video above to see the full report.

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