Huntington Beach City Council Puts 3 Charter Measures on November Ballot

By Julianne Foster
Julianne Foster
Julianne Foster
July 7, 2022 Updated: July 7, 2022

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.—Surf City voters will decide on three measures this November to update the city charter. The measures, which soon will be given letters by the Orange County Registrar, include a total of 17 charter amendments.

The measures were given final approval by the city council at its July 5 meeting. The 6–1 vote was taken for all three measures at once, with only Councilman Erik Peterson dissenting.

The first ballot measure consists of 12 charter amendments. These changes include the following areas:

  • Improving charter language, small clarifications, and changes to current city processes.
  • Upgrading park structures and installing restrooms.
  • Replacing the title “Mayor Pro Tempore” with “Vice Mayor.” 

The second measure includes five amendments clarifying the roles and responsibilities of elected officials:

  • Clarifying the role of city treasurer and requiring minimum qualifications for the post.
  • Removing the requirement city attorneys must be graduates of American Bar Association-accredited law schools.

The third measure to be on the ballot concerns the city attorney:

  • Defines the city attorney-client relationship and the roles and responsibilities of the city attorney.
  • Gives the city council complete control over legal business for the city.
  • Lets the council contract outside attorneys if there is a conflict of interest with the city attorney.

The council has received a lot of heated feedback on the third measure from residents in the past few months. “This must not be about personality, but about government,” Councilwoman Natalie Moser said at the meeting.

With the ballot measures finally approved, City Attorney Michael Gates will prepare impartial analyses of the first and second measures. The measure concerning the City Attorney will be prepared by the City Clerk.

Councilman Peterson volunteered to provide written arguments for the ballot pamphlet against the measures, while Mayor Pro Tem Posey will write those in support. Those arguments will be submitted by 5 p.m. July 15. Rebuttals to these arguments from residents will need to be submitted by 5 p.m. July 25.

The Registrar’s deadline to turn in all ballot measure material is August 12.

One ballot measure not taken up by the council would have changed the city clerk and treasurer positions from elected to non-elected, beginning with the November 2024 election.

“There is some credence to having a treasurer [and clerk] be elected and not be beholding to staff or other elected officials to try to direct investment strategies,” Posey said. However, he acknowledged the current appointed clerk has shown impartiality and is doing a great job.