U.S. Open of Surfing wants to stay in Huntington Beach despite unrest

Despite a violent end to the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, the event's executive producer said organizers want the competition to remain in Surf City.

James Leitz, executive producer of the surfing competition, blamed an otherwise successful event on a small group of unruly beachgoers.


"It comes down to a few people," he said. "They play a game of cat and mouse. They'll start something here then go there. And that's exactly what happened."

Leitz said a downtown task force of residents and business owners would look for ways to make the event safer in the future.

Locals have complained that for years the tournament has attracted people who drink in their cars, urinate in public and leave trash behind. Michael Heh, who has lived off the main drag since 2009, said the event this year seemed like more of a nuisance than in years past.

"It seemed bigger, more people and more rowdy," said Heh, 48. "I've never seen this many people packed into Main Street."

Kimberly Krosner, a kindergarten teacher, said she avoids Main Street during the competition. Krosner said she was frustrated with the rowdy crowds, particularly those from out of town.

"It's way too crowded, and there's no parking," she said. "We who live here love our city. What I would say to the outsiders is: Why don't you treat this as if it were your own home? You wouldn't destroy your home."

At a news conference Monday, city leaders praised police for their work in trying to control the crowd. Authorities said officers on the ground fired pepper balls and nonlethal projectiles at rioters.

Several officers sustained minor injuries, and one person was treated and released from a hospital after being hit by a rubber projectile.

"It could've been much worse than it was," Mayor Connie Boardman said. "There was a plan in place to call on mutual aid in case it was needed. I think our police acted with great restraint given the crowd. They contained it very well."

Of those arrested in connection with the riot, only one was from Huntington Beach: 24-year-old Andres Gomez, who was booked on suspicion of refusing to disperse and resisting arrest.

Huntington Beach police said the others booked on suspicion of charges related to disorderly conduct and resisting arrest include Michael John Lytle, 30, of Anaheim; Michael Anthony Avila, 28, of Santa Ana; Joseph Monterrosa, 28, of Ontario; Adam A. Cecot, 18, of Irvine; Chase Scott Christman, 19, of Simi Valley; and Kyle Roger Crott, 18, of Riverside.



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