1) U.S. Open of Surfing disturbance
Huntington Beach police called it a disturbance while many in the community called it a riot. However it's labeled, the kerfuffle that erupted at the end of the U.S. Open of Surfing finals in July shook up the downtown area, both physically and emotionally.
The unruly crowd wreaked havoc along Main Street that evening, as they vandalized store fronts, newspaper stands and city vehicles, tipped over portable lavatories and threw objects at police.
It took about 250 officers from Huntington Beach and other agencies in Orange County to quell the people in the downtown area. It cost the city around $31,000 to address the disturbance, with a large portion of it slated to police overtime costs.
Twenty suspects have been arrested to date, including a man from Simi Valley who pleaded guilty to vandalism and inciting a riot and was sentenced to three years of probation and to pay about $4,300 in restitution.
On Friday, Illario Niko Johnson, 18, of Chino, was sentenced to 12 days in jail, three years of probation, 150 hours of community service and to pay restitution for setting a box of catalogs on fire.
Downtown Huntington Beach residents were outraged by the incident and aired their grievances to council members during a special meeting. Those in the community were mad at the event itself, believing that it had turned into more of a large beach party than a surfing competition.
IMG Action Sports, the group that put on the event, proposed in October that the U.S. Open planned for July will be much more scaled down and will have a bigger emphasis on the competition.
2) 'Keep your mitts off our pits!'
It started with the city of Newport Beach asking the California Coastal Commission to remove its 60 fire rings from that city's beaches.
Little did the city know that such a request would spark the South Coast Air Quality Management District to consider banning all the beach pits within its jurisdiction, about 800 open air wood-burning devices found in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Those against the fire rings saw them as a health hazard while hundreds of others, including state legislators, city leaders and many of their constituents, argued that the pits were a long-honored beach tradition.
In July, the AQMD, after hearing hours of public testimony from fire ring supporters, adopted a rule to regulate the devices including adding buffer zones and no-burn days. It also gave individual cities more deciding power if they want to keep or remove their pits.
3) Poseidon desalination plant in limbo
The Stamford, Conn.-based water company Poseidon Resources has waited nearly 10 years for the California Coastal Commission to review its application to build a desalination plant on the coast of Huntington Beach.
After hours of public comments for and against the project, commissioners voted to hold off on making any definitive decision on the highly controversial plant, which opponents say will harm to the ocean environment.
Poseidon agreed to withdraw its development permit application to allow for further research on project alternatives. The business plans to submit a new application when the research is done, but there isn't a clear timetable as to when that will happen.
The group pushed to have open-water intakes for the plant while those concerned about the environment and Coastal Commission staff recommended it have subsurface pipes, using the sand as a natural filter.
4) Plastic bag ban
Huntington Beach became one of a handful of cities in Southern California and the third in Orange County to ban the distribution of plastic bags.
The ban took effect Nov. 1 and has garnered mixed reactions from the community. Councilwoman Connie Boardman and environmental groups see the prohibition as a way to reduce pollution in the city and at the beach. Mayor Matthew Harper and many residents see it as the government overreaching its control on businesses.
One resident has started a petition to get the plastic bag ban on next November's ballot to get the ordinance repealed.
5) Historic Wintersburg, Rainbow Environmental and the Ocean View School District
The City Council's decision to allow local waste management company Rainbow Environmental Services to demolish the historic Wintersburg site in Huntington Beach snowballed into a school district suing both the city and the business.
The Ocean View School District filed a complaint against Rainbow for being a public and private nuisance to the Oak View community. Additionally, the district filed a petition to stop the city from rezoning the 4.4-acre Wintersburg location partially for industrial use.
The district believes Rainbow will expand its operations to the site, which the company owns.
Meanwhile, Japanese American preservations have 18 months to figure out how to secure funding and purchase the five Wintersburg buildings if they don't want the structures to be demolished. The city has officially recognized four of the buildings as having historical value.
Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force chairwoman Mary Urashima is working on getting the buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
6) Kelly Morehouse
Huntington Beach residents were shocked when they heard that Surf City native Kelly Morehouse died after the motorcycle she and her boyfriend were riding collided with a vehicle in June.
The driver of the other vehicle, Tadashi Mizutani, 69, of Huntington Beach, pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence causing injury and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Kelly Blue, as locals called her, was the daughter of longtime Huntington Beach High School teachers Bill and Karen Morehouse. She was working toward becoming a teacher like them.
Dozens of friends and folks from the community held a paddle in her memory days after her death.
7) Bartlett Park murder-suicide
It started off as Huntington Beach police responding to a call of two dead bodies found in Bartlett Park in July. It turned out that one of the victims was possibly linked to a double homicide in Sacramento the day before.
Authorities found the body of 32-year-old Abraham Felmley in the heavily-wooded park off Beach Boulevard and Adams Avenue. Police believe he shot and killed Robert Andres Duran, the other victim, and then killed himself.
Felmley was suspected of killing his grandfather and uncle in an arson blaze in Sacramento. The suspect allegedly stole a truck from his relative's home and drove to Merced, where he carjacked a man's Toyota Camry and drove it down to Huntington Beach to Bartlett Park.
8) H.B. doctor shot in his Newport office
A Huntington Harbour resident was allegedly shot to death by a suspect who claimed the victim botched his prostate surgery years ago.
Stanwood Elkus, 75, of Lake Elsinore, was accused of shooting Dr. Ronald Gilbert, 52, multiple times in his torso at his medical office in Newport Beach in January.
Elkus told the Daily Pilot that he was upset with Gilbert about a medical procedure he had done about 21 years ago. But sources familiar with the case said the suspect may have mistaken the victim for another doctor with a similar name.
9) No toll roads on the 405, for now
The Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted in December to approve the construction of an additional general-purpose lane on the 405 Freeway.
Known as Alternative 1, the additional lane will widen the 12-mile stretch of road from the 605 Freeway interchange to Euclid Street in Fountain Valley.
The county's transportation agency debated on going with another option, Alternative 3, which would have added a general purpose lane, but would have converted the existing carpool lane into a toll lane.
The toll idea was met with opposition by officials and residents of the cities that border the 405. They suggested OCTA board members go with Alternative 2, which would have added two new general-purpose lanes.
Alternative 1 would be built in a way that would allow OCTA to build another lane in the future. But some have a sneaking suspicion that the toll lane debate has just been tabled for the time being.
10) Johnny's Saloon veteran sign
Stuff hit the fan when a popular bar in Huntington Beach was told by a code enforcement intern that the sign atop its roof needed to be taken down.
Johnny's Saloon owner Johnny Kresimir took to social media and by the next day, a small code infraction blew up into national news.
Hundreds of veterans and active members of the armed forces messaged Kresimir their support of the well known "Thank a veteran for your freedom" sign on the corner off Beach Boulevard and Slater Avenue. Some even permanently showed their support by getting the sign tattooed on their body. City officials are in talks with Kresimir in an effort to find a solution.Copyright © 2015, CT Now