Downtown task force suggests more cameras

The Huntington Beach Downtown Task Force on Thursday recommended increasing surveillance cameras, improving streets signs and — with an eye toward bars and restaurants — preventing oversaturation of certain types of businesses.

After previous meetings were dominated by alcohol-related issues, members said this gathering was the most productive in weeks.

About 50 residents filled the Main Street Library meeting room, clapping as the committee approved one recommendation after the other.

Members suggested that the City Council discuss adding more security cameras — at the discretion of police Chief Robert Handy.

Handy said that the five newly installed cameras downtown have been helpful tools for police officers in the three or so weeks that they have been in use. And he wants several more of the closed-circuit cameras to get a better scope of the downtown area.

"We do believe they're very beneficial for all types of crime, not just vandalism," he said. "We can monitor from afar and they don't know we're there."

Handy does not, however, want to blanket the downtown in cameras, just the "hotspots" for law enforcement.

"Rest assured, the city can't afford that," Councilman Jim Katapodis, a task force member, said about covering the area with cameras. "There's not going to be a camera everywhere you're at."

Possible limits on bars

In an effort to limit the number of bars and restaurants, the committee also recommended a City Council study session on how other cities regulate types of businesses in a specific area.

Laguna Beach limits what types of businesses — frozen yogurt shops, salons and restaurants, clothing stores — can move into vacant spaces downtown, task force member Susie Smith said.

"You don't get 15 T-shirt shops or 15 yogurt shops," she said. "It opens up doors to have more unique stores, and it's more enjoyable."

Also approved was a recommendation to make the street signs in the area clearer and more visible.

Several committee members complained that some signs are placed too high on fixtures or feature print that is too small to read.

Since litter near the residential area was a problem during the summer, notably at last year's U.S. Open of Surfing, the group suggested placing more trash receptacles on the beach and possibly along Main Street during certain special events.

The next task force meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Main Street Library.

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