Huntington Beach City Council pumps brakes on street name change

Laird Coatings, formerly called Coatings Research Corporations, was founded by Ed Laird.
Laird Coatings, formerly called Coatings Research Corporations, was founded by Huntington Beach businessman Ed Laird in the 1970s.
(Matt Szabo)

Commerce Lane in northern Huntington Beach will not be changing its name.

An agenda item at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, submitted by Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark, Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns and Tony Strickland, had proposed changing the name of Commerce Lane to Ed Laird Lane in honor of the longtime Surf City businessman.

But Burns said that due to concerns by Laird himself and the businesses on the street, he made a different motion to place a sign celebrating Laird in front of his two businesses on the street.

“We’ll post those instead of changing the street name,” Burns said. “We’ll put ceremonial signs out there.”


The proposed sign features the Huntington Beach logo, a picture of the pier and the words “Honorary Laird Lane, for his service to Huntington Beach.”

The signs will appear on light poles in front of Laird’s business, hanging over the sidewalk.

Van Der Mark seconded Burns’ motion. It passed 4-0-3, with Strickland and Casey McKeon also voting in favor. Minority council members Natalie Moser, Rhonda Bolton and Dan Kalmick all abstained.

“Ed Laird has done so much work to change so many lives for our youth for decades and decades,” Van Der Mark said. “Most of the time we wait until people pass away to memorialize them, remember them and celebrate them. That’s actually just to benefit us ... [but] I think it would be great if we actually do this so he could get the joy to get to see this as well.”

Commerce Lane, in northern Huntington Beach.
Commerce Lane, in northern Huntington Beach.
(Matt Szabo)

Laird is a wealthy Republican donor and in fact has donated thousands of dollars to the political campaign committees of the conservative City Council majority in the last couple of years.

But Strickland said there were no Levine Act conflicts of interest related to the street sign because there was no monetary value involved with the sign.

Laird has been heavily involved with the Boy Scouts of America for about 60 years and was also a former chairman of the board of directors of the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, currently serving as chair of the advisory board. He was also a city planning commissioner for two years.

His business on Commerce Lane is Laird Coatings, formerly known as Coatings Resource, established in El Monte in 1976 and moved to Huntington Beach in 1990.

Twelve affected property and business owners on Commerce Lane had sent an email to the City Council opposing the proposed name change, saying that it would create substantial administrative, logistical and business costs.

“I want to apologize on behalf of this council for the fire drill that the folks on Commerce Lane had to go through, and start contemplating how much money they were going to spend on calling their website person and updating all of their letterhead,” Kalmick said.

Kalmick added the City Council should build a policy for commemorative signs, allowing someone to submit nominations to the Community Services Commission before bringing it to the council for a vote.

He made a substitute motion to table the item and have staff come back with a process, but that failed 4-3.

“This is the proper body to deal with it,” Strickland said. “As we introduced the resolution, we heard from our constituents and our community ... and that’s why we amended it to where it is today. This is exactly the process of government, you hear from your constituents and you adjust based on those concerns.”