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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

A Variety of Woes in Huntington Beach

August 17, 2003

Re "Surf City Accepts Costly Ruling," Aug. 5:

It seems every day we read about the city of Huntington Beach and its financial problems. Recently it had to lay off 37 employees, HBTV Channel 3 is off the air, various city services have been reduced or eliminated, and now they lose a $27-million lawsuit and are considering bankruptcy. What will be next? It's time for City Hall to reevaluate its priorities. Maybe Huntington Beach can no longer afford luxuries like a $18-million sports complex, oversized public library and its own police and fire departments. Many other O.C. cities rely on regional parks and libraries, the county sheriff and the county Fire Authority to operate more economically. Why does H.B. insist on maintaining these luxuries?

Anita Wyatt

Huntington Beach

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It seems that every week brings another article about the money (or legal) woes of Huntington Beach. The city has no shortage of excuses. This is a prime example of what happens when a government entity has no leadership. When a city is run by cronyism and a good-ol'-boy system, it is fertile ground for malfeasance and cover-ups.

This is the city that poured sewage in its groundwater for a decade and lied about it. A council member pleaded guilty to criminal charges. The city itself pleaded guilty. The city is a criminal.

The council will not hold the city manager and department heads answerable. No one accepts responsibility. It is time the residents held them all accountable and condemned the system that is squandering their money.

Tim Chambers

Rancho Santa Margarita

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Re "Huntington to End Fight on Initiative," July 27:

Kudos to Huntington Beach for not further challenging the voter initiative to end at-large elections. At-large elections are the subtle system that old-guard politicians in cities and school districts undergoing ethnic change use to retain power over "newcomers."

John Rossmann

Tustin

*

Re "Huntington Beach Faulted in Tax Ruling," Aug. 1:

Many property owners and concerned citizens are torn as to how we are to respond to the recent court rejection of Huntington Beach's appeal of the property tax suit. While we may resent the illegal property tax collection, which is linked directly to the failure of previous councils to stand up to excessive retirement benefit demands and salary spiking by former city employees, we deserve the incremental tax money back. We are also equally concerned about the ability of the city to fund vital services.

The Times article suggests the idea of the city issuing a bond to cover refund checks.

Councilman Dave Sullivan was quoted as being opposed, but where is the money going to come from? With California recently having its credit rating lowered, now is a bad time for local governments to borrow. By the time the city strategy is finalized, it could be worse.

I suggest that the City Council consider offering a full refund to all property owners who will voluntarily accept the amount due as a credit on their local property tax bills. In effect, the city would be asking the very people who benefit from services to provide the city with a no-interest loan. As the services support property value, this solution would be a win-win. It is time for out-of-the-box solutions.

Jeff Lebow

Huntington Beach

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In light of your article regarding Huntington Beach's failed appeal on the tax hike, it's noteworthy that six homeowners in northern Huntington Beach are funding a solution to a serious city street, tree and water runoff problem. On La Mesa Lane, six trees are being removed, sidewalks repaired and curbs redone to solve damage that has occurred over the past decades. This is being done with the permission of the city but totally at the homeowners' expense, which is significant. This repair of city property is an example of citizens lending a helping hand where there is a real need.

Dave Riel

Huntington Beach

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