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Is Huntington Beach the 'Jersey Shore' of Southern California?

Huntington Beach

Welcome to Huntington Beach, the "Jersey Shore" of Orange County.

When the sun sets here, a three-block stretch of innocuous-looking stucco buildings morphs from a place where shopkeepers hawk beach towels and surfboards to one where bartenders sling bottles of vodka illuminated by black light and neon.

Bartenders tell tales of throwing naked men out of clubs and breaking up bloody fights. And drunks wander so often into the wrong house looking for a place to sleep that police gave it a term — a "Downtown 459" — named after the state's penal code number for a burglary, since a resident's initial panicked call is because they think someone is trying to rob them.

But the debauchery comes with a price.

Huntington Beach is ranked No. 1 in victims killed and injured in alcohol-involved traffic accidents among cities its size in California. DUI arrests are more than twice the number in Irvine, a college town roughly the same size.

Read the full story: Bar scene gives Huntington Beach both headaches and a hearty revenue boost


Huntington Beach tops California DUI collisions list, new report says

One bar linked to 72 drunk-driving arrests, Huntington Beach police say

Huntington Beach nixes plan to post photos of suspected drunk drivers on Facebook 

-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Huntington Beach

Photo: Huntington Beach Police Officers T. Jackson and R. Gonzales arrest a man on Main Street in February. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (22)

Just FYI Jersey has 127 miles of very nice beaches, 1 mile of which includes the location for "Jersey Shore." Most are quiet, quaint (i.e., Cape May) and very family friendly (i.e., Wildwood). Let's not lump them all into one noisy place where Staten Islanders go for r+r. Pretty good surfing from time to time too!

Ha..its not even close. Its the racist skin head shore of OC....place is waay overrated.

Huntington Beach is full of full of white trash, Neo-Nazi/white pride types...it's the lower milieu of Orange County

Can the level of ignorance in HB be as high as "Jersey Shore?"

Huntington beach has always been a garbage can..... just like jersey.....

@charliesheensaloser - really? "the lower milieu of Orange County" hmmmm, i don't think my neighborhood of million dollar houses makes it the lower milieu of OC. I think your referring to santa ana. It's funny to see these comments from non-locals.

Huntington Beach is actually a fairly safe neighborhood. While downtown at night can get pretty raunchy, other than the DUIs we have a very low crime rate and a rather rich neighborhood. While there are a few small pockets of more impoverished places, a majority of the city is occupied by very wealthy households. Also most of us are not Neo-Nazis. That is a very small population.

If the police joke about burglary/trespassing then it is officially out of control. I love to drive down PCH from Long Beach/Seal Beach to Laguna Beach Ruby's on PCH. After dark it changes alot. We had the fine folks on 2nd Street that were banned in HB. Comes from being next door. If you don't have enough security at your bar and let the cops handle it then you help create a public disturbance. Oh, and don't get me started on the over serving of the booze. The bars are mostly to blame in this. We always had enough coverage to watch our patrons and cut them off before we made our area famous for douches. Just a thought from someone who has 25 years in the biz.

I find it funny that people believe their opinions are facts. Come live in HB for 27 years as I have, born in HB hospital, lived here my whole life. The claims in these comments hold no value, no merit. They are exactly that, claims. Claims by people who may or may not have experienced the city of HB a few times. Perhaps lived here a couple years. To be honest with you, I have not seen a skin head lurking around these parts in some time now. Im sure they are here, but not on the wide scale people perceive them to be.

The only problems with HB are the idiot out of towner's who come into our city and give it a bad rap. The locals, the community, the children, the parks, the atmosphere downtown during the day, is all great, and should be acknowledge.

@marc oh please, your million dollar neighborhood is far overshadowed by the number of dingy liquor stores, motels, industrial complexes, warehouses, and apartment complexes that litter HB. I lived in HB for 15 years and the only nice area would be Huntington Harbour, which is polluted and totally overrated.

Irvine is in no way a college town. Its constantly one of the safest cities in California. Is it a town with a college? Yes, but there is no downtown or bar scene other than a few corporate chain bars at the district shopping center. The closest thing to compare HB to would be down town Fullerton. If irvine has a high DUI rate at all it's because people are caught coming home from drinking in HB.

Sorry HB locals, yes your city deserves the neo-nazi rep. I lived there for four and a half years. No the MAJORITY might not be skinheads, but there are certainly enough there to warrant the city's reputation for having a higher percentage PER CAPITA. Let's put it this way: never before or since in my life have I ever received a "Sieg Heil" salute while walking downtown for having a shaved head and being white. Never before or since have I ever seen a Confederate flag regularly flying proudly from a neighbor's porch. Never before or since have I regularly frequented a convenience store whose owner and employees were sporting swastika and Iron Cross tattoos on the backs of their arms & necks. Never before or since have I been approached in a bar and asked if I shave my head just to have a shaved head or if I'm "down with my race." I have lived up & down the OC coast: Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Balboa, HB, and Seal Beach. I only encountered skinheads during my 4.5 years in HB.

HB used to have tons of white-supremest type people, skin heads including, living all over the downtown area and used to be a really bad area, but dont bash it if you dont actually know about it, its a great place now including the downtown area which has been renovated into a very active stretch of beautiful shops and restaurants, let alone the amazing suburbs it also houses which is a great and friendly place to live. So make sure you get your facts straight before you start bashing random cities you have actually no current information on.

Actually I take that back, huntington beach sucks, stay in riverside.

No it's not like the Jersey Shore. It is very quiet there for the most part and not overrun by gangs and over populated. Plus the food is soo much better..

Reading some of these comments, one would think that the only valuable aspect of Huntington Beach (and life) is its relative wealth. "Neighborhood of million dollar homes," "while there are a few small pockets of more impoverished places, a majority of the city is occupied by very wealthy households," etc.--as if such a category was the only thing that mattered. Has anyone else noticed how out of touch these comments sound? How self-interested and self-congratulatory? **Slams head on table**

There has been what you could call a neo-nazi element in the City for years. It really is just a bunch of ignorant white guys who surf poorly and do not have a real concept of neo-nazi "ideals". Just wanna-bees. However, they are becoming a smaller and smaller impact in the City, especially the summer when the are far outnumbered by families and others. Its changed and no where near what it used to be. But HB will always be a bit wilder than Newport, Laguna and Seal Beach's. Great tow, we go down often to the great restaurants and events near the pier. But still, you see some of these boneheads around. They can't just make them go, but they can keep 'em moving.

wow @ all the comments. OK I'm Asian American and I live in HB and go to Main st for a few drinks from time to time. Main st. has some really great restaurants and awesome bars. If you don't want to spend money you can also just go there to people watch and walk the pier and enjoy the festivities along the beach. I live about 3 minutes away from the pier and I seriously laugh at some of the comments made. Huntington Beach is an overall wealthy city. Most of the people getting into trouble and DUI's are locals from near by cities. It's a pretty popular area and with that of course its going to attract attention from people looking for some nightlife fun.

Don't even get me started comparing HB to Irvine. Irvine is seriously one of the most locked down cities I've ever come to experience. There's no freedom there and certainly nothing worth checking out past 8pm. Irvine's a machine pushing out mindless drones. This doesn't apply to most Irvine residents but you can certainly agree that the surrounding shops and areas in Irvine don't breed much for culture and tradition.

PS I used to worry about skin heads and what nots in HB as I've heard the myths before as well but I have never run into any problems the past 8 years living here. If it were true it was the past.... HB Main st. is probably the funnest area to be in all of OC on the average. The homes in HB are unique different, well kept, and super nice. People invest in HB homes for their future because the neighborhoods have a sense of local pride and culture. Try finding that in your neighborhoods... haha You just got to live here to understand.

This was obviously written by someone who doesn't know the town very well. Huntington Beach is a beautiful place to live. You'll find drunks and barfights downtown in any beach town, and the numbers of people who are "Neo-Nazis" are also very low. Schools of Huntington Beach work to advocate against teens drinking and driving, so work is being done to lower any fatality rates.

None of this woman's opinions are backed up by legitimate facts/statistics or any interviews. Fishy? I would say so.

Downtown Huntington Beach is so awful I won't take my childern to any restuarants on Main Street. I have lived in Huntington Beach for over 20 years and we have to go outside our city to find a nice place to eat and walk around afterwards.

Huntington Beach is one of the safest, while most fun cities. Ever since i was 6 i've walked wherever i wanted, and nothing ever happened. In fact, the people here, are nicer than in other areas of OC. But at night, its party time. But atleast it is controlled and no innocent/sober people are harmed.

I have lived in HB and surrounding cities for close to 12 and 1/2 years so i think that I've lived hear long enough to have a say I have only once had an encounter with someone that might be a "neo-nazi" and it was on Adams Boulevard some skinhead kid was riding his bike and gave me the nazi salute besides that downtown is actually a pretty good area depending on when you go


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