In Surf City, it seems, there are no lazy days of summer. The wide-open waterfront and thousands of parking spaces, coupled with the city's dogged marketing efforts, have turned Surf City into one long endless summer of athletic contests and other events.
There's also "Ocean Force," a reality TV smash chronicling Huntington Beach lifeguards' dramatic rescues.
The city's gotten so comfortable with selling its image that officials have agreed to install nine video cameras under the storied Huntington Beach Pier to beam live images to Hollister clothing stores nationwide.
The traffic congestion and logistical work these commercial ventures cause are minimal, city officials say, compared with the tourist dollars and national exposure they bring.
But try telling that to the locals.
All the out-of-towners clogging Pacific Coast Highway and hogging downtown parking spaces begin to wear on the nerves -- and for some, on the bottom line.
"The bigger the event is, the less traffic in my store," said Moe Kanoudi, owner of Main Street Eyewear & Boutique. "I'm used to it. We write those days off."
Locals aren't "going to go down and buy a dress or shoes or surfboards when it's a mob scene," said Steve McCormick, 50, a longtime Surf City resident.
The streets in front of McCormick's downtown-adjacent home get so jammed on some weekends that he puts out traffic cones to preserve a parking place for his own car. Added insult: the beer bottles and taco wrappers that partyers leave in his yard.
Litter aside, the Chamber of Commerce trumpets all the activity as a financial boon for the city, with the hotel bed tax alone pumping $6.5 million each year into the local economy.
"The marketing of Huntington Beach has had a direct, positive impact on [local merchants'] bottom line," said Perry Cain, executive vice president of the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Bars and restaurants are mobbed on big weekends, and outdoor gear shops such as Huntington Surf and Sport see business spike as much as 20% with the crowds.
According to one study commissioned by the Conference and Visitors Bureau, annual visitor spending has ballooned to an estimated $350 million, up from $191 million seven years ago.
But in other ways, Surf City -- a nickname trademarked two years ago after a much-publicized legal battle with Santa Cruz -- is a victim of its own success. People complain about the downtown traffic. During beach events, too little parking hurts service-oriented businesses such as salons and dog groomers that rely on regular customers.
"Our locals don't want to come down," said Susie Smith, owner of Makin Waves Salon.
Residents know to avoid PCH and the pier on busy weekends. Even the police chief wonders whether the city needs to rein it in.
"I don't think more and bigger events are better for the city," said Huntington Beach Police Chief Kenneth W. Small.
The U.S. Open of Surfing, one of the largest events of the year, drew at least 340,000 people to the city last month and required 50 to 55 extra police shifts over a week.