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HB Independent

Exotic animals still barred from city

Harper's effort to remove outdated laws fails to convince fellow council members in this instance.

By Anthony Clark Carpio

1:37 PM PDT, June 4, 2014

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The circus is not coming to town.

Not that there's anywhere to host it.

Huntington Beach's municipal code, which prohibits wild or exotic animals from performing within city limits, will remain in place. An effort to repeal the ban failed on a 4-3 vote by the City Council on Monday.

Council members Matthew Harper, Dave Sullivan and Joe Carchio supported repealing the law, which is among the "obsolete" ordinances that Harper said he is trying to remove from the books.

Last year, he was successful in repealing the ban on hypnotism and pinball machine regulations.

The mayor said the prohibition on performances by wild or exotic animals is outdated because Surf City has no space.

"When this ordinance was passed, there was a lot of room in Huntington Center," Harper said. "It was before [it was] transformed to the Bella Terra [shopping mall] of today, and so the wide-open parking lots that may have been available to, like, a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus just aren't there anymore."

Additionally, the ordinance has the "unintended consequence" of preventing the use of such animals during cultural celebrations such as weddings, he said.

The prohibition was passed in 2002 as a way to protect wild and exotic animals from "cruel and inhumane treatment," according to the municipal code.

Some of the animals barred from performing in Huntington Beach are elephants, monkeys, bears, tigers, alligators, camels and emus.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman, who was on the council during the original vote for the ordinance, said members acted appropriately at the time.

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KABC to broadcast the Fourth of July Parade

In other business, council members unanimously approved allowing local ABC affiliate KABC to broadcast live from Huntington Beach's annual Fourth of July parade.

KABC spokeswoman Diane Medina said the station had been looking for another community event to telecast across Southern California and found the city's event to be of great significance to the region.

The station currently broadcasts the Martin Luther King Jr. Kingdom Day Parade in South Los Angeles as well as the East Los Angeles Mexican Independence Day Parade.

Medina said bringing attention to such events "has been a really good service for the community, highlighting the wonderful things that are happening but also spreading the enjoyment of that event beyond that specific community."

She added that she will look into the possibility of live-streaming the event and rebroadcasting it on the city's local cable channel.

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'In God We Trust' seal to be repositioned

The City Council unanimously voted Monday to reposition its "In God We Trust" seal in the council chamber, centering it behind the dais.

Councilman Dave Sullivan said the plaque should be centered, as it is in the House of Representatives.

"This simple, yet eloquent statement of America's founding principles is placed front and center above that podium," he said.

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Future council members to receive compensation

Council members voted 5 to 2 to bring back compensation for future council members, beginning with those newly elected in November. Harper and Boardman dissented.

The change would not apply to current council members who are reelected this fall.

For several months, some members of the council have asked that compensation be reinstated, explaining that paying for various expenses incurred while performing their council duties is difficult on a $125 monthly stipend.

In May, the City Council tweaked the ordinance to limit health insurance benefits to council members only and not their dependents.

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Repeal of sex offender prohibition in city parks receives final vote

Huntington Beach council members voted Monday to repeal the ordinance that bans sex offenders from entering city parks.

The item passed its second reading on a 4-2 vote, with Sullivan and Carchio dissenting. Mayor Pro Tem Joe Shaw was not present during the vote.

The city's ban was in essence rendered ineffective once the California Supreme Court in April found Orange County's law, on which the city's ordinance is based, to be unconstitutional.