Task force ready to take next step

The Huntington Beach Downtown Task Force is ready to bring its recommendations to the City Council.

The committee has taken six months to brainstorm ways to improve downtown, making it safer for guests and residents in the surrounding neighborhood. The discussion has included addressing alcohol use and the resulting problems.

"I think we do have some good recommendations, solid recommendations, for the council that will help improve the quality of life for the residents downtown," Councilwoman Connie Boardman said.

The task force will present 13 recommendations to council members at a study session yet to be scheduled.

They range from reducing the size of the U.S. Open of Surfing, improving the lighting in the Main Promenade parking structure, increasing the number of surveillance cameras and extending the enforcement time at parking meters.

"I always think it's a little bit better [to have a study session], because sometimes we just give them a report and it doesn't always get read," Boardman said. "This will be a way to make sure that it happens."

Thursday night marked the last meeting of the task force, but members said they will ask the City Council to approve a smaller group that would meet quarterly to continue thinking of ways to improve downtown.

They also rejected the recently proposed idea of blending with the city's Economic Development Committee, saying the agendas of the groups are different.

"Maybe it should just be downtown residents because they're the ones that have so much at stake," Councilman Joe Carchio said. "Their voices need to be heard over and above everyone else because that's why we're here to begin with."

The new committee could consist of three residents, a member of the Business Improvement District, a bar owner and three council members.

"This committee definitely needs to continue," task force member Susie Smith said. "We've just barely scratched the surface, and we have so many more things coming up that are going to impact downtown. We still have a lot of problems we have to deal with."

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