In the classic Eighties TV show “Cheers,” there a line from the theme song that, amazingly, resonates with me during meetings of local city councils. “You wanna go where everyone knows/Troubles are all the same,” goes the lyric, and boy, are they.
As we get ready to spin up the Orange County Tribune’s public debut on Aug. 8, I’ve been attending meetings of councils in Garden Grove, Huntington Beach and Westminster and found one common denominator: people all have the same gripes.
At Monday’s meeting in Huntington Beach, various speakers complained that their city doesn’t have enough parkland and that the city council is too willing to bend to the whims of developers, especially hotel developers. Sound familiar, Grovers?
Garden Grove and Westminster share what are charitably called “structural deficits,” which means they spend more money than they take in. Endless are the pleas one hears to “run the city like a business,” although it’s not clear whether that means visionary Apple or tight-fisted Walmart.
Another interesting spin is how what people outside of town admire might be controversial in a city. I’ve driven by the expansive Huntington Beach Sports Complex (Goldenwest Street between Talbert Avenue and Gothard Street) and felt that, wow, what city wouldn’t want a big athletic facility like that?
But, again, at Monday’s city council meeting in the HB, some folks complained about the complex, saying it was too expensive and saddled the city with too much debt. The just-opened new opulent senior citizen center in Central Park has been delayed for years because of battles related to the “loss” of open space.
And then, let’s look at the other side, where some people are jealous of what’s going on in Garden Grove. In a discussion of the challenges of marketing to tourists, an official of Visit Huntington Beach lamented the rising competition from the Anaheim Resort area (Anaheim and Garden Grove) and particularly shuddered at the arrival of the Great Wolf resort on Harbor Boulevard. There may be more shuddering soon, as at least two and possibly four more hotels land nearby.
We picked these three cities to cover, in part, because of what they had in common. I’m learning that what they have in common is that wherever you live, there’s some folks who think that there is worse off than their neighbors.’ The other man’s grass, you know …
NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN
The most interesting hat in the ring in the first wave of declarations of candidacy for local office came Monday from Margie Rice. Rice, currently a member of the city council, will be challenging incumbent Tri Ta for the top elected post in the All-American city.
There are several noteworthy aspects to this. Rice completed a long stretch on the council as a member and mayor in 2012, saying that it was time for other people to step up and lead. But in 2014 she was back, running and winning a seat on the council.
She’s been a strong supporter of a proposed 1 cent sales tax for Westminster to stave off financial ruin, and her popularity could be a factor in whether or not it passes. Area voters will be asked to approve a lot of money matters in November, what with the sale tax hike in Westminster and bond issues going on in the Westminster School District and Ocean View School District, which serves a small part of Westminster. How generous they feel will be a key part of the political scene for the rest of 2016.