Addressing congestion was a primary talking point among the candidates running for the Huntington Beach City Council. Automobiles are choking our streets, roads and thoroughfares, and residents have been vocal in calling for answers. Every candidate had a position, and every candidate vowed that something had to be done. When one issue generates this much attention with candidates for local elected office, it is clear the community expects action.
Given this context, one must really wonder how the Huntington Beach City Council approved Ordinance No. 4165 prohibiting the use of shared bikes and scooters within the city. At a time when the city of Huntington Beach has every reason to encourage and support any idea that could reduce the number of cars on our roads, the City Council yet again showed that it is blinded both by a lack of vision and the misguided belief that it is its job to protect an outdated and obsolete status quo.
Rather than working to constructively address issues associated with shared bikes and scooters, as numerous other California beach cities have, Huntington Beach simply banned the use of all shared mobility devices within the city. Instead of seeing these bicycles and scooters for their potential as a “congestion-busting” alternative for residents and visitors alike, our City Council did what it does best: said “no.”
Let me be the first to congratulate our esteemed representatives for yet another opportunity missed. When the issue in our city is congestion, shared bicycles and scooters could have provided a small first baby step to addressing this problem.
A minimal investment aimed at improving and extending the city’s existing bicycle infrastructure would have easily addressed most, if not all, of the perceived dangers of shared bicycles and scooters. Additionally, such an investment may have empowered Huntington Beach residents with the freedom to ride their bikes without the clear and present danger of streets choked by automobiles. Of course, the same automobiles that choke our streets are also responsible for numerous accidents and deaths on city thoroughfares and prevent most children from riding or walking to our schools.
Huntington Beach is known as Surf City, and few things are more associated with our beautiful beaches and coastlines than bicycling, skateboarding and scooting to the beach. And while some hardy souls still dare to walk and ride in our automobile-choked streets, our city’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is woefully inadequate and little more than left-over space in our public right-of-way.
Sadly, today’s Huntington Beach residents will continue to be bound by the limitations of our current City Council to think beyond their 1980s version of suburbia, and clearly we deserve elected officials that have vision beyond an unworkable status quo.
Blue wave comes to Huntington Beach
Homelessness is a major issue in cities throughout our region, and Huntington Beach is no exception. It’s admirable that the city has a Homeless Task Force, which includes an outreach coordinator, two full-time police officers and four case managers. But with people still living hand-to-mouth on the streets of Huntington Beach, it seems necessary to increase the size and services of the city’s Homeless Task Force.
Thankfully, newly elected Huntington Beach Council Member Kim Carr has a progressive vision and a sincere heart. Along with Councilwoman Jill Hardy, and with the election Harley Rouda to represent our 48th congressional district in Washington, D.C., the blue wave is, hopefully, washing away the reactionary political sentiment that has for too long defined Surf City.