H.B. council approves new assistant police chief position and salary range

Despite concerns about the proposal’s timing from some city leaders, the Huntington Beach Police Department will have a new assistant chief in 2019.

The City Council on Monday unanimously gave final approval to amending its municipal code and creating the new police role after attempts from council members Barbara Delgleize, Patrick Brenden and Mike Posey to delay financial considerations about the item until June.

The three dissented in a 4-3 vote approving a separate resolution to establish the position’s salary range, which will come from the 2018-19 budget. The job will pay about $163,000 to $202,000 annually.

In 2017, an independent consulting firm recommended creating a second-in-command position to “improve departmental operational efficiency” and establish a “ladder of succession planning.”

Chief Robert Handy had told the council he needed help from a “solid management team” to overcome divisions in the department. His goal, he said, is to use the new role to prepare the next chief.

On Monday, Handy told the council the department has struggled with “decimated management” the past 12 years after it began cutting positions, many of which haven’t been replaced.

“We’ve put Band-Aids on problems,” Handy said.

Delgleize and Brenden said they supported Handy’s request but believed the council could wait to address the issue in June during the city’s budget review.

“Nobody disagrees this position is needed,” Brenden said. “The question is really about the timing.”

Delgleize and Brenden voted for the new role during the Nov. 6 council meeting, when the item was introduced. Posey dissented at the time.

Councilwoman Lyn Semeta said Monday that it “doesn’t make sense” to override the opinion of Police Department management that the post is “best for their department.”

Councilman Billy O’Connell agreed and said it’s clear to him the position would be important.

Posey voted this time to create the position, though his motion to delay the salary resolution failed.

Harbor Commission approved

In other business Monday, the council unanimously approved creating a seven-member Harbor Commission to offer input to city leaders about local waterways and infrastructure.

The commission also will have two council member liaisons.

Huntington Harbour, in the northwest corner of the city bordering Seal Beach, includes five islands and a network of channels and connects to Anaheim Bay.

Semeta and Councilman Erik Peterson introduced the commission idea this year following the introduction of Senate Bill 1299 by state Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) in February. The bill would require that Huntington Beach craft a plan for how it will maintain the harbor.

Helicopter service for Costa Mesa

The council also voted unanimously to renew a three-year agreement to provide use of Huntington Beach’s police helicopter to Costa Mesa.

The contract outlines up to 1,000 hours per year of exclusive helicopter service at an hourly rate starting at $735 for the first year and increasingly annually, according to a city staff report.

The agreement could generate up to $900,000 a year for Huntington Beach, according to the report.

The Huntington Beach Police Department also provides air support to Newport Beach and Irvine.

Twitter: @vegapriscella