Huntington Beach reconsidering law charging
out-of-towners for emergency services
Huntington Beach may reconsider a controversial ordinance that would charge out-of-town drivers for emergency services if they cause an accident.
Councilman Don Hansen said he wants the council to reconsider the emergency-response fees portion of the ordinance after he received "significant commentary and heartburn." Councilman Joe Carchio said he seconded reconsidering the ordinance.
The ordinance sticks nonresidents with the bill for emergency services for car accidents, fires or vehicle extractions and is estimated to generate $100,000 in annual revenue, according to the staff report. The ordinance also gives the city the power to be reimbursed for emergency costs by companies for any pipeline and power line incidents, but Hansen said he is not asking to reconsider that portion.
The fees don't apply to residents, but to the more than 16 million people who descend on Huntington Beach annually, according to the report. Residents are exempt because they pay property taxes.
Councilman Keith Bohr said he thought the fee was a "fairly creative" solution and cautioned the council against being so reactionary and repealing it because of some e-mails.
"I think it's a lot to-do about nothing," he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy agreed that council members shouldn't change their votes just because they received e-mails.
"...Sometimes you have to stand up and say this is what we have to do," she said. "We're just trying to recover our expenses from people that don't pay taxes in Huntington Beach."
-- Britney Barnes, Times Community News