Huntington Beach

Expanded outdoor dining on Main Street ends March 1

MAIN STREET in Huntington Beach pre-COVID (OC Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

Expanded outdoor dining and retail on Main Street and other areas of downtown Huntington Beach prompted by the coronavirus pandemic will be ended as of March 1, the city council decided on Tuesday night.

The vote was 4-3 with Mayor Tony Strickland, Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark and Councilmembers Pat Burns and Casey McKeon in favor. Opposed were Councilmembers Rhonda Bolton, Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser.

Under the motion approved by the council, outdoor dining that extended into the public right-of-way – streets and sidewalks – will be ended and all blocks of Main Street would reopen to vehicular traffic. Additionally, the parking meters would be returned to their pre-COVID use. The changes would be in place until the city develops a comprehensive plan for downtown.

  “This was never intended to be permanent,” said Van Der Mark, noting that it was in response to the closure of indoor dining during the pandemic. She said that now the downtown suffers from decreased business activity, homelessness, dirt and other problems.

“I think this is a simplistic solution,” said Kalmick,arguing that some of the problems can be solved without ending the expanded outdoor dining and street closures. “We’re so close to coming up with a plan.”

In other action on Tuesday night, the council:

  • approved on a 7-0 vote a proposal to table a report on homelessness and schedule a public hearing on the issue at the meeting of Feb. 21;
  • approved on a 4-3 vote an ordinance banning the use of anonymous complaints about violations of the municipal code;
  • approved on a 4-3 vote an ordinance that would raise the limits on campaign contributions from its current cap of $250 to the state limit of $4900.

The council’s actions were preceded by nearly three hours of public comments, most of which concerned the issue of outdoor dining on downtown stretches of Main Street.

The next meeting of the city council is set for Feb. 7.

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