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Task force winding up its work

It plans to meet through February as it prepares to formally present to the council its findings on how to improve downtown.

January 22, 2014|By Anthony Clark Carpio

Time is running out for members of the Huntington Beach Downtown Task Force to finalize recommendations on how to improve the area and send them to the City Council.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman, chairwoman of the task force, said during its Jan. 9 meeting that she hopes to wrap things up by the end of February and start making the task force's proposed solutions a reality.

While some on the committee believe that talks have been productive, others have expressed frustration with the progress made over the past five months.

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The group has discussed improving lighting and security in the parking structure at Walnut Avenue and Third Street, finding ways to address the alcohol problem, downscaling the U.S. Open of Surfing, enticing downtown employees to park in the structure and getting residential permit parking in the area.

Task force member Domenic Iorfino said the committee is on the right track. He added that even though recommendations haven't formally been proposed to the council, efforts already being made by the city and the Huntington Beach Police Department to combat various problems.

The city now has the tools it needs, he said, including stricter entertainment permit rules on bars and restaurants and the addition of surveillance cameras around the area.

"It's a matter of enforcement," said Iorfino, who represents the Chamber of Commerce. "Since the beginning of the task force until now, the police have already stepped up their involvement in downtown. So I think that's a 100% positive."

He added: "The council and the police are so proactive and are doing such a fine job of reacting to certain points, most of the recommendations we might have made are already enacted. It's wonderful synergy between the task force, the City Council and the Police Department. You can't buy that type of interaction."

Councilman Joe Carchio, who is also a task force member, said he believes the group has accomplished what it set out to do.

"We got all the items that we felt were important on the table, and now it's just a matter of sorting out and figuring out which one's we're going to bring to the City Council for discussion," he said.

The councilman added that it's not just a matter of adding more laws downtown. Business owners in the area need to change their ways if they want to continue operating, he said.

Some task force members have expressed impatience with the focus

on bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

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