By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune
After hours of public comment and some emotional words on the dais, the Huntington Beach City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to approve a new flag policy that will remove the rainbow LGBTQ “pride” flag from display on city property.
Voting in favor of the measure, which will direct the city manager and city attorney to specify the display of flags, were Mayor Tony Strickland, Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark and Councilmembers Pat Burns and Casey McKeon. Opposed were Councilmembers Rhonda Bolton, Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser.
As proposed by Burns, the new policy would limit flag displays at city facilities to the national American flag, POW/MIA, state, city, county and the six U.S. military branch flags.
“It’s not about getting rid of the ‘pride’ flag,” said Burns, insisting that under the Stars and Stripes, “we are all equal” and the city “shouldn’t fly flags that divide” people.
But the council minority and most of the people who spoke under public comments on the subject felt that the flag policy change was intended to remove that flag.
“What message does it send?” asked Moser. “A petty and unsavory message.”
Speakers during public comments argued that the flag demonstrated Huntington Beach’s acceptance of sexual minorities and would help refute the image of intolerance that some see in Surf City.
Some spoke in favor of the change, arguing that the “pride” flag was showing favor to a special group and without a specific list of approved banners it might be possible to display flags of a wide variety of objectionable causes.
Also on Tuesday night, the council:
- approved on a 7-0 vote a plan to reduce business-related crime by hiring two more police officers, approve overtime for more patrols and buy five “public safety cameras”;
- rejected on a 4-3 vote a proposal by Moser to reinstate remote citizen participation at public meetings;
- adopted on a 4-3 vote an ordinance prohibiting the use of anonymous complaints in code enforcement.
Categories: Huntington Beach