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Huntington Beach is playing the victim in its spat with the state

Huntington Beach is playing the victim in its spat with the state
California officials are suing Huntington Beach over laws meant to address the state's housing shortage. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

In the city of Huntington Beach there is an excuse for everything. From attempting to sidestep participation in a countywide effort on homelessness to suing the state of California earlier this month over state laws meant to address California’s housing shortage, the city of Huntington Beach has made one thing very clear: It’s not our problem.

Sadly, this is a self-serving delusion the citizens of Huntington Beach may well come to regret as now, perhaps inevitably, the state is suing the city.

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While many in H.B. would have you believe they’re being unfairly targeted by the unhinged and overreaching overlords of Sacramento, this reactive attempt to play the victim card is itself little more than just another tired excuse seeking to rationalize the city’s lack of action and stubborn unwillingness to act or collaborate on pressing civic issues facing our state and county.

I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising. Rather than focusing on the modern issues of our time — homelessness, housing shortages, impacts of climate change — many residents and elected-officials in H.B. bask in a warm, friendly fantasy of nostalgia. They reminisce about a “sleepy little beach town,” where views of the iconic pier, the golden sands and the gentle sounds of the coastal surf go on and on uninterrupted.

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Nostalgia is fine and certainly has its place, but when we mistakenly embrace nostalgia to replace proactive leadership, cooperative collaboration and thoughtful action, we are in trouble.

As a city of over 200,000 residents, the citizen of Huntington Beach cannot and should not support a policy of avoidance by our local government. Huntington Beach has a responsibility to both its citizens, as well as the surrounding communities, to stop passing the buck.

Demonizing the state with repeated claims of “overreach” is yet another excuse in a virtual avalanche of excuses that takes away from addressing real issues in our community, our county and our state.

After all, what good is “local control” if those in control aren’t working to solve problems locally?

Steve Shepherd is an architect who lives and works in Huntington Beach.

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