Fine Balance Between Locals, Special Events and Beach Access
There are over 1,000 special events that take place in Huntington Beach each year, and actually a whole lot more. Some require a permit (when using public beaches and land) while others are hosted on private property such as churches and meeting halls. The biggest, top 2 special events in Surf City are the Huntington Beach 4th of July Parade, Run, Pancake Breakfast, Street Fair and Fireworks Show; and U.S. Open of Surfing in July-August. The entire city and beaches are impacted by these events that attract up to a million attendees.
Huntington Beach fills its roster with special events and has a person within the city assigned to coordinate the details. His name is Chris Cole. He assembles meetings to work out the details of proposed or repeat, annual events such as BB Jazz, Senior Saturday, HB Concours d’Elegance, Paintball Tournament, Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights, Easter Egg Hunt in Central Park, Duck-a-Thon, Taste of HB, etc. And he also works with the Downtown BID (Huntington Beach Downtown Business Improvement District) to assist in making the popular weekly Surf City Nights Tuesday night street fair run smoothly.
Not everyone cheers each concept or proposal (some dislike the US Open of Surfing, for example, because of its impacts to City beach access and services.) Some proposals for events have been rejected and not permitted because they didn’t meet the guidelines and adhere to existing laws about free access to beaches, serving liquor on beaches, etc.
One new proposal in 2012 comes from Russo and Steele Auto Auction. Their proposal was approved Aug. 15, 2012 by the city zoning administrator as a privately-held event that displaces up to 588 parking spots used by beach-goers at Huntington City Beach near the resort hotels–the Hyatt and Hilton. The applicant must provide shuttle services from remote parking at the Michael E. Rodgers Senior Center, Huntington Beach City Hall, Edison Park, Edison High School and the Newland Barn according to the report that will permit this event for 11 days in June annually through 2018.
Planning Commissioner Mark Bixby appealed the application because it takes prime beach parking spots and sells them to a private entity during the peak summer season. He has appealed the granted license to operate for additional reasons, as well. It is just one example of the fine balance between public interest and private enterprise that goes through a process in City Hall to either culminate as an event, or become just another concept that didn’t work out.