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Mailbag: Gustavo Arellano doesn’t get Huntington Beach

California State Parks officers help local police patrol the area in Huntington Beach in June.
California State Parks officers help local police patrol the area during a Black Lives Matter protest in Huntington Beach in June. . The city’s mayor writes that diverse views are welcome, making the city stronger.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

From his opening line, Gustavo Arellano’s recent Los Angeles Times column published in the Daily Pilot paints an unfairly one-sided characterization of our city.

Recently named one of the Top 10 Happiest Cities in America by WalletHub, Huntington Beach is home to 200,000 residents. More than 4 million visitors come here annually from around the world, all of whom have their own beliefs and opinions that, as a welcoming community, we value. We are far from “Angrytown, USA.”

Undoubtedly, Huntington Beach Pier’s iconic nature naturally lends itself to be a visible backdrop for gatherings and protests. It has become a prime choice for rally organizers throughout the region.

Just two months ago, organizers chose the same place to hold a peaceful candlelight vigil to honor the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There have been two large-scale Black Lives Matters demonstrations coordinated to occur at Pier Plaza as well. Unfortunately, the Pier also has drawn individuals who have expressed opinions that do not represent Huntington Beach’s values as a welcoming and inclusive community. These opinions are not unique to Huntington Beach and are occurring throughout Southern California.

Huntington Beach celebrates freedom. We take great pride in our annual Fourth of July Parade and what it represents. We take no issue when Americans of any stripe choose to peacefully exercise their 1st Amendment rights. Activism has long been a part of HB’s culture.

We are a city of strong and diverse opinions. We are a place that turns down calls for tax increases but also fiercely protects the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. We are a town of locals that welcomes millions of visitors of all creeds and nationalities every year. We are a place that can elect progressive Democrats and a conservative former UFC champion in the same election. Our congresswoman-elect is a Republican, while our two state Senators are Democrats.

After four years on the City Council I know that this spectrum of ideas, beliefs and experiences only makes Huntington Beach stronger.

Maybe, next time, Gustavo could show me his favorite HB spots and I’ll show him the Huntington Beach that I know and love; a community that is far from being driven by anger, but instead by passion, pride and a commitment to our city — what we like to call #OneHB.

Mayor Lyn Semeta
Huntington Beach

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Once again, my hometown of Huntington Beach has made the media and the newspapers, not as “Surf City” but as “Rage City” with protests from right-wingers and other assorted rabble-rousers.

Still smarting over the defeat of the president, and still adhering to the Trump protocols of not wearing masks, not socially distancing and not following health guidelines, these perpetually angered individuals are now targeting common-sense moves by the government to lower the incidence of coronavirus cases and their impacts through curfews and restrictions on dining and public gatherings. They oppose any curbing of civil liberties that were largely made necessary by their own reckless actions in the first place. They continue to be part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.

Yes, we are all weary of the pandemic and what we have to put up with, but many in Huntington Beach are weary of the protests and irresponsible behavior the citizenry has to endure as well.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

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Los Angeles Times columnist Gustavo Arellano wonders, why the citizens of Surf City are drowning in anger (“How Huntington Beach became AngryTown, USA”)? Good question. I too, a resident of Huntington Beach since 1962, am angry. But I am angry at the irrational behavior of those who feel their freedom is restricted if masks are required to enter a place of business. If scientific, evidence-based guidance is considered an attempt to abridge our freedoms then we are entitled to rebel and carry on with such careless behavior, it’s our choice, right?

The problem with such pretzel-like logic is that the careless behavior of others endangers my health and the health of my family and friends. Anger begets anger, but an antidote to anger and ignorance is factual information and open mindedness. It’s past time for the denying-the-dying residents of Huntington Beach to wise up by learning and conforming (yes, conforming) to the guidelines of science.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

Newport Beach isn’t far behind

As I read the Daily Pilot and StuNews this morning, I couldn’t suppress the thought that the angry crowd in Huntington Beach has been the peoples’ way of expressing their feelings about attempts by the governors to stop the raging pandemic, or in their vernacular, “take away their freedom.”

And what followed was the equally undesirable thought that by reputation, Newport Beach might not be too far behind in terms of resisting the advice of healthcare workers and state and national leaders who feel the weight of COVID-19 deaths on their shoulders.

Some Newport Beach leaders just try to be a little more subtle in their resistance — trying to reopen the city way too early during the first “stay at home” order, refusing to close their beaches, trying to sue the governor, and making every small issue relating in any way to the coronavirus into a big issue.

I watch pretty carefully what is going on in Newport Beach politically, and I can’t really say that I have heard any of the local leaders or candidates, with the exception of a few, stand up for enforcing and modeling the COVID-19 protocols for counties and cities.

You have to ask yourself, do our leaders really care about saving peoples’ lives or do they care more about their own political futures? Do these council members have a real positive platform other than just saying “no”? For the most part, I think they garner bad grades for their modeling and enforcement of best health practices in restaurants and shops. Don’t they share in the blame for the economic chaos and deaths or are they allowed to be just observers and naysayers?

And now we have one more attempt to resist authority in a councilman’s desire to undo the cancelation of the Christmas Boat Parade. And in the end, while some of these locals try to gain higher office and leave us behind, will they have enhanced our property values for giving our beloved city a negative view by others? Morality aside, locals care about practicality too.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

Don’t like old signs? Take them down

This is in response to Mark Scott’s letter complaining that some campaign signs were not yet removed weeks after the election. It’s likely not the candidate’s fault but his or her supporters who put the signs up in the first place.

I have a suggestion for Mr. Scott. Instead of complaining, why not do something about the situation? The last few elections, I too, have been annoyed at signs that stay up too long. So, two weeks after an election, if I happen to see a sign still posted, I try to remove it myself, whether or not I supported the person.

I don’t go out and comb the entire city for this, but if I pass by an intersection daily and the sign hasn’t come down, I’ll stop to get it.

If everyone did this, just cleaning up the signs they happen to pass by regularly, then the signs would be gone a lot sooner. Think of it as a shared civic duty, a community service, or neighborhood beautification effort. I do.

Julie Bixby
Huntington Beach

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