State and city agree to discuss future beach events

In the wake of a rave the city tried to stop at the 11th hour, Huntington Beach and the state have signed a letter of agreement to communicate with one another when either agency is hosting large-scale events on their respective beaches.

The City Council voted 6 to 1 Monday to strengthen communication with the state Parks Department after Huntington Beach City Hall unsuccessfully tried to stop the Wet Electric dance party event from occurring in September on Huntington State Beach with short notice. Councilman Joe Carchio dissented.

"We had a situation on the state beach last year that really angered a lot of our residents in Huntington Beach ... " Carchio said about the daytime rave.

If it were not a friend who warned him and a subsequent conversation with then-Mayor Connie Boardman, "we would have never know about this," he added.

According to the agreement, the city will notify the state monthly about events planned on the city beach and provide mutual aid when there are public safety incidents at Huntington and Bolsa Chica state beaches.

Additionally, the city will inform the state about city beach events that get close to or on state property and are expected to attract 5,000 or more people.

The same goes for the state, which will notify the city monthly of events on the state beaches. The state will also inform the city if alcohol will be sold at events so police and other city departments can prepare.

In September, the state hosted the Wet Electric event at Huntington State Beach near Brookhurst Street and Pacific Coast Highway. Because of the nature of the event, city officials were worried that a riot like the one after last year's U.S. Open of Surfing could occur.

The city tried stopping the event through a court order, however, the judge ruled for the beachside party to carry on, as its scheduling did not violate any laws.

Despite not being able to pull the plug on the event, the city was successful in getting its alcohol license denied, which reportedly hurt attendance. There were no serious incidents reported during or after the dance party.

Carchio said the letter lists the responsibilities of the two groups, however, he wanted a statement in the document to require the state to compensate the city for any damages or police overtime.

City Manager Fred Wilson said it took months for the city to get to a point with the state to sign the letter of agreement and recognizes that the city has a limited ability to tell the state what to do.

"What this is is just a first step toward better collaboration with the state, and I think that the goal is that as the events come up, the state will meet with us and talk with us on a case-by-case basis," he said. "Our police chief has talked with his counterpart [in the state] and I think they understand what the demands are on our department and they're willing to work with us ... "

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