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Letters to the Editor: Public forums on Huntington Beach landfill were ‘train wrecks’

Huntington Beach resident Ryan Messick voices his concerns during a community meeting June 6 at Edison High School during which state and regional air quality officials discussed how they are handling the 18-month cleanup currently underway at the former Ascon landfill site.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

It’s not often you see two spectacular train wrecks on the same track in less than month, but that was exactly what happened with the second public meeting on the Ascon Landfill put on by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. Once again, Huntington Beach Mayor Erik Peterson opened the meeting with many of the same presenters from DTSC in tow. Once again, the oft-quoted definition of insanity (“doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”) came into play as agency representatives from decidedly technical backgrounds (not gifted public speakers) tried to handle the same torches-and-pitchforks audience that dominated in the first meeting.

Once again, the same audience loudmouths who tried to hijack the first meeting were there to eat up time and patience and spiral the meeting downward. They succeeded. As Peterson floundered in controlling the meeting, I expected to see Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta warming up in the bullpen.

There were a couple of unscripted surprises in public comments. One was the laughably gratuitous appearance by former Councilman Billy O’Connell, never known as any kind of community activist, who actually advocated picketing. This was a consummate act of grandstanding. I was sitting with actual activists and we were just shaking our heads.

However, as duly reported by the Daily Pilot (“Huntington Beach landfill cleanup will cease until Edison High School lets out for summer,” June 7), some progress was achieved. I am pleased that a temporary halt on the clean-up work was initiated. Regrettably, it will take a complete overhaul of the project team to interact with the public in the future. This is no way to run a railroad. We do not need any more civic train wrecks in the future.


Tim Geddes

Huntingon Beach

Offer housing, not longterm camping in cars

I urge state lawmakers to please vote no on Assembly Bill 516, which goes too far in relaxing the rules to maintain a vehicle in California at the expense of our neighborhoods, property values, cleanliness and security of our streets. What is meant to ease the burden on those who find it financially difficult to maintain a vehicle, which may be essential to their livelihood, is extremely likely to burden all of us as citizens of California. This bill will aid those who have no intention of complying with the current rules and will encourage squatting on public lands and on neighborhood streets.

If there is no real consequence for parking and living in a motorhome in a neighborhood, those inclined to do so will be camping out in our neighborhoods. Would you want that in front of your house? Car hoarders will now be able to keep their cars on the streets, no need to store or maintain them. I know of two in my small neighborhood, whose collections are only kept in check because they must keep the cars running well enough to jockey them around every three days.


This is not a solution for all cities and situations because it is too broad in scope; while it may be aimed at the authors’ hometowns (San Francisco and Los Angeles) to ease their homelessness problems, it is not the right answer. We need to have low-income housing and assistance, not a free-for-all with cars. This bill will cause more problems than it solves, and will invite more homeless to our state since we will tolerate it and even encourage it.

Valaree Wahler

Corona del Mar

O.C. delegation should advocate censure

The Los Angeles Times recently reported how every Democratic member of California’s congressional delegation feels about impeachment. Not surprising, Orange County’s members are taking a measured, wait-and-see approach. As a former congressional staff assistant, I know how Congress works. That said, I urge the House to table talk of impeachment and replace it with a vote of censure. It only takes a simple majority to pass.

Not that censure would prohibit President Trump from tweeting or holding press conferences, but it would send a strong message to the White House. Ditto for the Senate which, as we know, would never vote to convict the president if articles of impeachment ever reached its front door. I believe a vote of censure is a responsible way to proceed in these strange, and serious, times.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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