Clem Dominguez, a beloved Huntington Beach activist who was appointed to the Planning Commission in December, has died.
He is believed to have been 72.
The cause and time of death were not clear as of Thursday afternoon.
“He was a very committed and dedicated member of the community and worked generously to make Huntington Beach better,” Mayor Barbara Delgleize said Thursday.
Dominguez was appointed to the Planning Commission by Councilman Erik Peterson in December after the resignation of Michael Hoskinson. Hoskinson resigned after facing public backlash for comments he made online denigrating Islam.
“[Dominguez] was a great guy even if people disagreed with him,” said Peterson, who considered Dominguez a friend. “We are going to miss him.”
According to Dominguez’s website, he lived in Huntington Beach for more than 40 years and ran for City Council in 1988. He also served in the U.S. Navy, his website says.
More recently, he was a candidate for a seat on the Orange County Water District board.
“My main focus in life is my family, surfing, community and business in that order,” according to his website.
A friend posted the news to Facebook on Wednesday night, resulting in an outpouring of grief and praise for Dominguez.
“Clem didn’t just care about our city, he cared about each and every one of us — the residents,” one comment said.
“His passing leaves a great void,” another comment said. “He had so much knowledge and passion for this town. Fair winds and a following sea.”
Dominguez wrote and published a few books, according to an Amazon biography page. He mentioned in the bio that he worked as an accountant, programmer, tax advisor and property manager.
On his LinkedIn page, Dominguez said he authored six eBooks, “one on property management and one on QuickBooks commission solutions. The other four were on U.S. policy or alcohol addiction.”
Dominguez was born in New York City in 1944 and drove to Huntington Beach in 1972 with his wife in their green Volkswagen, the Amazon bio says. Dominguez wrote that he’d dreamed of going to Huntington Beach since the 1960s to surf the famed waves of Surf City.
Connie Mandic, the Planning Commission's chairwoman, said Thursday that what stood out about Dominguez was his attentiveness whenever residents spoke at meetings.
“He was very tuned in to people and very dedicated,” Mandic said.
Mandic said the commission position would remain vacant until Peterson chooses another commissioner.
The Planning Commission is made up of seven people, each appointed by a City Council member. Peterson selected Hoskinson and then Dominguez.
Peterson said he was taken aback after learning of Dominguez’s death Wednesday night and didn’t have anyone in mind as of Thursday to fill the vacant seat.
Dominguez was known as an activist around town, but no issue was as important to him as the controversial Poseidon desalination plant, which would, if approved, be built next to the AES power plant at Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway.
Dominguez was opposed to the proposed plant, said Merle Moshiri, the president of Residents for Responsible Desalination. Dominguez was a member of the group.
Moshiri said that as a surfer, Dominguez had a great reverence for the ocean and feared the plant would harm marine life.
Dominguez regularly attended City Council and Orange County Water District meetings to work against the Poseidon plant, Moshiri said.
Moshiri said Dominguez always stuck to his ideals but was never combative.
“He couldn’t be shaken from his point,” she said.
Moshiri said she was “stunned” by the news of Dominguez’s death because he seemed so much younger than he was, in health and spirit. She said he still regularly surfed.
"He will be sorely, sorely missed," Moshiri said.