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TimesOC: Tito Ortiz has stepped down after a controversial and short run on the Huntington Beach City Council

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TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, June 4. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

Tito Ortiz, former mixed-martial artist and actor in Zombie Strippers, has resigned after one of the most controversial and shortest reigns on the Huntington Beach City Council.

In announcing his reasons for stepping down on Tuesday night, Ortiz said he hoped to help his community but has been met with “hostility and judgment” since he came onto the council. Reporter Matt Szabo wrote that Ortiz’s sons were sent home from school in mid-May for refusing to wear masks.

“As of recently, the attacks against me have started to involve my family, and now I feel that their safety is in danger,” he said. “To put it simply, this job isn’t working for me.”

Ortiz became known as the Donald Trump of Huntington Beach. His slogan — “Make Huntington Beach Safe Again” — nearly mirrored that of the former president.

It worked for Ortiz as he claimed more than 42,000 votes, the most in the city’s history. But from the moment he took his seat on the dais in December until this week, Ortiz was controversy incarnate.

Ortiz has repeatedly taken an anti-mask stance during the pandemic, which has put him at odds with much of the public and science.

Reporter Hannah Fry said he regularly mocked the health crisis as a “plandemic” or a “political scam.” He apologized to a local burger joint for criticizing the restaurant’s mask policies.

The council almost removed Ortiz from his role as mayor pro tem in February but ended up tabling the item.

Last month, Ortiz was criticized when it was reported that he filed for unemployment against the city, though his hours were not reduced during the pandemic.

Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize was named the new mayor pro tem with the unanimous approval of the council on Wednesday.

Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz resigned from the City Council on Tuesday, June 1.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

NEWS

— Costa Mesa repealed a rule this week requiring people who enter the city to wear masks. The controversial mandate had been in place for about a year. Residents will now be asked to follow California guidelines ahead of the statewide reopening on June 15.

— Huntington Beach City Atty. Michael Gates in a rare move lashed out at council members this week after the city settled an age bias lawsuit against Gates. He claimed that two city council members were playing political games when they attempted to have Gates address the lawsuit in a public meeting. Gates also criticized other council members for trying to eliminate a position in his department in order to fund a deputy director of homelessness and behavioral services.

— Discovery Cube has agreed to sell the historic Balboa Fun Zone to a Costa Mesa real estate firm. The property has changed hands over the years, but the new owners claim they will be good stewards of the Fun Zone. The deal is expected to be finalized in the next few months.

— Costa Mesa provided initial approval this week of an ordinance that regulates cannabis dispensaries, including setting price points for conditional use and marijuana business permits. It’s unclear how much revenue will be generated by cannabis sales in the city, but the fee schedule estimates that the permits could bring in $668,000 annually.

SPORTS

— The Angels have suffered through a mediocre season, but improvements in the bullpen may help propel them to the playoffs as the team’s schedule gets easier. Signs are positive, as the team has claimed victory in six of its last nine games.

— The Sage Hill girls’ basketball team is moving on to the CIF semifinals.

— A roundup of high school basketball CIF games from Orange County’s coastal cities.

LIFE & LEISURE

— Viet Film Fest is hosting a virtual film series from June 1 to 15 that is centering on a “family” theme. The event, titled “Under the Same Roof,” is meant to celebrate the return of the festival because it had been cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

OPINION

— Supporters of the Balboa Island Museum took a ferry cruise around Newport Harbor to see historic spots.