TimesOC: With Ortiz out, Huntington Beach City Council seats Rhonda Bolton on 4-2 vote

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, July 28. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you today’s TimesOC newsletter with the latest roundup of news and events.

The Huntington Beach City Council can get back to business with a full dais now that members have appointed attorney Rhonda Bolton to complete the unfinished term of Tito Ortiz, the former mixed martial arts star who resigned from his elected position only months into a four-year term.

“To put it simply,” Ortiz told his council colleagues June 1, the night of his resignation, “this job isn’t working for me.”

Although the choice of Bolton was not unanimous during Monday night’s special meeting, Bolton did win the endorsements (and votes) of four of the six council members Ortiz left to sort things out. That’s all she needed, and she was sworn in shortly after the vote was recorded.

This is a milestone in Huntington Beach, as Bolton, who has served on the city’s human relations task force and resides there with her husband and two children, is now its first Black council member.

It’s especially notable because fewer than 1% of the Huntington Beach population is Black, and it’s a city where white supremacists have publicly reared their heads, most recently by planning a rally there in April.

These factors are not lost on Bolton, who stood out among the 105 candidates who were considered for the job. In an interview with our colleague Matt Szabo Monday night, she acknowledged the city’s troubled history when she said her appointment to the job was personally gratifying.

“It demonstrates the community being accepting of people, regardless of what they look like, regardless of skin color,” Bolton said. “So, it means a lot to me.”

Let’s hope this job will work out far better for Councilwoman Rhonda Bolton than it did for Tito Ortiz.

Rhonda Bolton is sworn in as a member of the Huntington Beach City Council on July 26, 2021.
(Spencer Grant)


— The owner of a Huntington Beach restaurant posted signs in the eatery’s window last week indicating he would serve only those guests who have not been vaccinated. Publicity stunt? You be the judge.

— Anyone entering the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana beginning this week must be wearing a mask, a judge ruled Sunday after two individuals with ties to the facility tested positive for the coronavirus.

— The Seal Beach Police Department, at the request of an officer, who is a lesbian, ordered 200 rainbow-themed patches that personnel could wear during LGBTQ Pride Month, according to reporter Priscella Vega. The Irvine Police Department ordered 300 of the same patches and the Laguna Beach PD is considering designing its own. But some activists suggest it’s not much more than posturing or “performative activism.”

Seal Beach Police Officer Erin Enos holding rainbow patches.
Seal Beach Police Officer Erin Enos holds rainbow patches. Enos, who is lesbian, pitched the rainbow patch idea to Police Chief Philip Gonshak a few months ago. It was immediately approved to be worn for Pride Month, which was in June.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

— Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials on Monday released the name of a man whose body was discovered in a lake at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley last week and indicated foul play did not likely play a role in the man’s death.

— Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian Monday announced a $3-million gift from the Iacocca Family Foundation to expand a program for type 1 diabetes at the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center.


— Kanoa Igarashi of Huntington Beach, surfing for Japan, won a silver medal at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach outside of Tokyo in the Summer Olympics. He fell to Italo Ferreira of Brazil, 15.14 to 6.60, in the 35-minute gold-medal matchup.

— Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach) announced Tuesday she has introduced a congressional resolution to designate Aug. 24, 2021, as “Kobe Bryant Day” to honor the late Lakers star who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.

— The Costa Mesa Aquatics Club has won gold medals at the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics before — but never in the top division. On Sunday, thought, the tide turned and the team claimed a 10-6 victory over Bay Area-based Sharks for the Junior Olympics 12-and-under mixed platinum division title match at Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

— The L.A. Chargers hold their first 2021 practice at training camp in Costa Mesa today. If you’re interested in watching a practice you can find tickets here. But first read our colleague Jeff Miller’s story on quarterback Justin Herbert, a star who last year produced more passing touchdowns, more total touchdowns and 300-yard games than any rookie in NFL history.

L.A. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws a pass during an NFL football camp practice  in August 2020, in Costa Mesa
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws a pass during an NFL football camp practice on Aug. 17, 2020, in Costa Mesa.
(Associated Press)


— Since it first opened over Mother’s Day weekend, an estimated 12,000 visitors have walked through 30-acre Hana Field in Costa Mesa, some cutting their own flowers and others taking advantage of its Instagram-worthy scenery. The Tanaka family expanded their operations from their site in Irvine because “we thought it might be a good opportunity to try something new,” Ken Tanaka told my colleague Lilly Nguyen. “We have never grown flowers on this large of a scale, so we thought it would be a great ‘u-pick’ flower opportunity plus a great picture opportunity as well.”

Sunflowers in the "gold rush" variety are picked by guest on the Sakioka family fields in Costa Mesa.
Sunflowers in the “gold rush” variety are picked by guest on the Sakioka family fields in Costa Mesa. The fields are being leased by Tanaka Farms to grow flowers for the public to view and pick on the weekends.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

— A lavish Irvine estate owned by Joni Rogers-Kante, the founder and chief executive of the multilevel marketing cosmetics firm SeneGence International, is on the market for $49.95 million. She bought it for $12.5 million in 2017 and has been putting her own touches on it since then.

— Have you been to the Orange County Fair yet this year? Tried any of its food offerings? Reporter Matt Szabo took one for the team by devouring as much as he could last Thursday (the designated weekday when you can buy for a mere $3 a fun-sized portion of fair food from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and taking notes. What is he still talking about in the office today? The bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers with cream cheese.

The bacon wrapped jalapeño pepper with cream cheese from the Bacon-A-Fair booth at OC Fair.
The bacon-wrapped jalapeño pepper with cream cheese from the Bacon-A-Fair booth at OC Fair’s $3 “Taste of the Fair” on Thursday, July 22.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)