Settlement: $5 million from public coffers to keep Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach
Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 10. We are Carol Cormaci and Vince Nguyen, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter. Together we’ve aggregated the latest local news and events.
In a blustering news conference staged yesterday morning by the city of Huntington Beach, its current mayor, veteran politico Tony Strickland, announced that he and other members of the City Council had “saved the Airshow.”
The price tag to keep the annual Pacific Airshow over the skies of Surf City soared to some spectacular heights of its own, according to our Daily Pilot colleague Matt Szabo, who was there to document yesterday’s announcement for the paper. In his story, Szabo reports the city has agreed to spend about $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed last fall by the show’s operator, Kevin Elliott, against the previous City Council, after the city was forced to cancel part of the three-day October 2021 show while it was in progress due to a massive oil spill off the coast.
“Per settlement details provided by City Atty. Michael Gates, Huntington Beach will pay the Pacific Airshow a total of $4,999,000 over the next six years,” Szabo reports. “Nearly half of that total, $1,999,000, is due on or before July 31 of this year. An additional $500,000 is due by Jan. 30 of 2024, and each of the following five years as well.”
But wait! There’s more to help smooth any possible lingering bad feelings between Elliott and Huntington Beach officials: “The city will also dismiss nearly $200,000 that the Pacific Airshow owes related to the 2021 show and refund $149,200 in fees paid by the airshow toward the 2022 Specific Events Invoice in the form of a credit,” the story continues.
“The city will also waive parking space fees for the Pacific Airshow, as it has done in the past. Further, the city will pay to the Pacific Airshow up to $2 million, after attorney fees and costs, of Huntington Beach’s recovery in its own oil spill lawsuit.”
According to a 2019 economic impact study commissioned by Visit Huntington Beach, the Pacific Airshow generated $68.1 million in direct spending and $105.8 million in total economic impact, so there are sound financial reasons to want to keep it alive.
Szabo notes the event’s operator, Elliott, has been supportive of the City Council’s new conservative majority, including Strickland, Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark, Casey McKeon and Pat Burns, all of whom were elected last fall and who apparently opted out of inviting at least one of their council colleagues, Dan Kalmick, to attend their triumphant announcement Tuesday.
“This is a bad deal,” Kalmick told Szabo of the settlement. “There was no investigation into the lawsuit. This is taxpayer money going to a private entity to put on an airshow that used to be free.”
— Shifting gears here from the pros to hobbyists: Members of Costa Mesa’s Harbor Soaring Society have waited three years to resume flying model aircraft at Fairview Park, and they might have to wait just a little longer, writes Daily Pilot reporter Sara Cardine. Although the City Council two years ago gave directions to create policies and a permitting method to allow the activity to return to the park, city staff returned to the council this spring with a recommendation for a permanent closure of the flying field. Council members rejected staff’s plan May 2 and asked them to revisit the 2021 request.
— One million dollars in federal funding will be used to help expand access of mental health services to youth organizations in Anaheim, as reported by our colleague Eric Licas. The money will help cover the cost of targeted counseling and support by organizations like Be Well OC for around 500 kids, according to Anaheim Community Foundation executive director Janis Heckel.
— Four more Democratic candidates have entered the race for California’s 45th Congressional District, vying for Republican Michelle Steel’s seat in next year’s election. Cheyenne Hunt and Aditya Pai announced their candidacy last month, while Brian Forde and Jimmy D. Pham quietly threw their hats in the ring. They join Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Bernice Nguyen challenging Steel, who won reelection in last year’s race.
— In other political news, state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and released from Sacramento County jail May 3, according to Sacramento Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol records. Min is running in the hotly contested 47th Congressional District currently represented by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), who is seeking to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
— Kelli Elliot, who teaches biology and environmental science at Orange Coast College, is a recipient of the Orange County Department of Education’s 2024 Teacher of the Year award. She was chosen among 62 district-level honorees. Among those, six were chosen for the county-level distinction following an intense review process and multiple interviews. The six finalists will be honored at a Nov. 6 gala dinner at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.
— Hundreds of OC Access paratransit drivers went on strike last week, citing stalled contract negotiations with the third-party company that employs them. Some 250 employees responsible for shuttling disabled and elderly riders walked off the job May 3. Other than cost-of-living pay increases for drivers, negotiations stalled after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a number of issues, including a mandatory 50-hour work week and 2½-hour paid lunch break. Updated information from Orange County Transportation Authority can be found here.
— Last week there was some drama over management of two hotels in Laguna Beach that seems to have calmed down, but it’s unclear whether the issue is resolved permanently. City officials briefly closed Hotel Laguna and 14 West after an ongoing dispute over who operated the businesses escalated to a physical confrontation involving armed security teams and the destruction of hotel property. Officials announced on May 5 the two properties had been allowed to reopen.
— According to a report from the California State Auditor, CalOptima, the only health insurer covering the county’s nearly 1 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries, has a $1.2 billion surplus. State officials say “primary care and specialty providers did not meet CalOptima’s standard for timely access to routine or urgent appointments” and add the money could have been used to improve care for the agency’s mostly low income and elderly beneficiaries along with the uninsured.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND COURTS
— Jurors began deliberating yesterday to decide whether Lee Q. Walker, facing charges of murder and attempted murder acted in self-defense when he opened fire on the occupants of a truck after a minor traffic collision in Costa Mesa last Thanksgiving or if he was the aggressor and sought out confrontation with the victims, as prosecutors allege. Lucas Rivera-Velasco, 30, died after being shot in the head by Walker.
— An Anaheim dance instructor was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting six young girls who were students at the studio he operated, according to the Anaheim Police Department. Mark Chavarria, 40, who runs the Chavarria Institute of Arts, was taken into custody Tuesday on 18 counts of sexual misconduct, City News Service reports. Authorities say the alleged assaults surfaced when multiple girls between the ages of 12 and 14 reported them to the police.
— A 63-year-old man from Buena Park was found dead in Coyote Creek in Los Alamitos after firefighters spotted a body drifting down the river Thursday morning, authorities said. Los Alamitos Police Department officials said the man’s death appears to be accidental, but an investigation has been launched. Officials discovered the body as a storm system moved through Southern California, increasing water levels in local creeks and channels.
— The wheels have come off for food truck favorite Hammer Burger. The smash burger concept has officially opened its first brick-and-mortar location in downtown Santa Ana and offers a wider menu with beer, wine and seating for about 60.
— Sammy Hagar’s recent venture, Cabo Wabo Beach Club, is now open inside the Waterfront Beach Resort along Pacific Coast Highway. The restaurant is designed to evoke the ambiance of Cabo San Lucas, where he founded the Cabo Wabo Cantina in 1990.
— Newport Beach-based Bitech Technologies Corp. [OTCQB: BTTC], a global technology solution provider, announced via a news release Monday it had received a letter of intent from Nam Viet Green Energy JSC, a Vietnamese partner, to provide up to $300 million in financing for solar and battery energy storage system projects.
LIFE & LEISURE
— Fullerton’s Muckenthaler Cultural Center celebrates Asian Pacific American heritage month with an exhibit featuring the work of Korean ceramic experts Dohun Kim and his father, Master Kim Se-Yong. As TimesOC reporter Sarah Mosqueda writes, “Story of a Thousand Years: Master of Goryeo Celadon” showcases their expertise in the tradition of Korean Goryeo celadon. The exhibit is open until May 26.
— Disneyland’s “Fantasmic!” nighttime attraction will be scrapped until May 28 after a 45-foot-tall animatronic dragon caught on fire last month, according to this report in the Los Angeles Times. Park officials previously said the performance would be on hiatus until at least May 14. The show has been put on hold since April 22.
— A new public art piece in Huntington Beach is the latest of more than 40 site-specific works on display throughout the city. Surf City officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new piece called “To See Yourself in Nature” on Thursday. The installation is located in Huntington Central Park and features two curved pillars, each 13 feet tall, that are crafted of etched bronze and hand-finished stainless steel.
— For one day only, a rare copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio was on display Thursday at UC Irvine as part of UCI Libraries’ latest exhibit, “400 Years of Shakespeare’s First Folio,” reports our colleague Lilly Nguyen. According to the British Museum, about 750 copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio — the first collection of the Bard’s works published posthumously in 1623 — were ever printed. Only 233 of those are currently known to have survived worldwide. Although Thursday was the only opportunity to physically view the antiquity, university officials said there will be detailed reproductions of the First Folio and its features on display through December.
— Nutmeg, a feral cat that was part of the permanent group of felines allowed to live at Disneyland, has died, according to this story by the L.A. Times. The orange cat inspired a secret cocktail at Magic Key Terrace and was often seen at Disney California Adventure. The group of felines have attracted a cult following, with more than 110,000 followers on Instagram.
— Steven Martinez of San Diego won the 19th OC Marathon on Sunday in a record time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 6 seconds. Northern California resident Jenny Grimshaw won the women’s race in 2:53:06. The event featured a capacity field of 2,600 entrants from 47 states. Photos and complete race results can be found at OCmarathon.com.
— The Anaheim Ducks have the No. 2 pick in the NHL Draft following Monday’s lottery drawing, as reported by L.A. Times sportswriter Helene Elliott. The Ducks, which finished 23-47-23 last season, were favorites to land the top overall pick, which instead went to the Chicago Blackhawks. The draft will be held June 28 and 29 in Nashville, Tenn.
— The Huntington Beach Pier will play host to this weekend’s 2023 USA Ultimate Beach Championships. This year’s Beach Nationals are being held on the West Coast for the first time. The previous six competitions were held in Virginia Beach, Va. The Beach Nationals tournament, which runs Saturday and Sunday, is comprised of athletes in eight divisions that are divided by age. There are men’s, women’s and co-ed divisions, and the co-ed divisions are split evenly.
— Kygo, Ellie Goulding, Tove Lo, the Midnight, the Knocks, Two Feet and Forester will take to the stage this Saturday during the Palm Tree Music Festival at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.; the festival runs from 1 to 10 p.m. Single-day general admission tickets are $169. For more details or to purchase tickets, visit palmtreemusicfestival.com.
— The Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival will return to the Balboa Bay Resort Memorial Day weekend. The event will begin Friday, May 26 with a wine dinner and reception with Duckhorn Winery. As of Monday, more than 60 different vendors were expected to participate in the festival. Tickets for the three-day festival can be purchased until the day of the event.
— Artists, crafters and designers are welcome to the Patchwork Show Makers Market coming to Old Town Tustin on May 21. Started in Santa Ana in 2008, the free, family-friendly semiannual event features handmade goods, DIY crafts, music and much more. The event runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit dearhandmadelife.com/patchwork-show.
KEEP IN TOUCH
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