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Huntington Beach Removes Democratic Process by Passing a Flag Ordinance

Author: Red Cassidy - March 12, 2023

The City of Huntington Beach in California has passed an ordinance amending Title 13 of the Huntington Beach Municipal Code to add Chapter 13.07, which relates to government flags on city property. This new chapter specifies which flags may be flown or displayed on city property and outlines restrictions on the city's display of flags.

According to the ordinance, the City of Huntington Beach may only fly or display a limited number of flags on its properties. These flags include the American flag, the POW/MIA flag, the State of California flag, the Huntington Beach City flag, and at times, the County of Orange flag and the flags of the six branches of service: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Space Force.

Passing the ordinance removes the current democratic process regarding decisions about which flags can be flown on city property. The criticism of the ordinance stems from the city council's decision to replace a policy requiring a vote before flying any commemorative flag. This change has been seen by some as an attempt to avoid voting on flying the Pride flag in June, which has caused disappointment and frustration among members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.

Former Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman tweeted, "I am embarrassed by our new council majority that replaced a policy requiring a vote before flying any commemorative flag with an ordinance that limits what flags the city can display, all to avoid having to vote (and then defend their vote) on flying the Pride flag in June."

Despite this criticism, the City of Huntington Beach maintains that this ordinance is in the best interest of promoting unity and respect among its citizens. It is important to note that this ordinance restricts the city's own speech by limiting the types of flags it can display. However, it does not restrict the exercise of free speech by businesses or individuals protected by the First Amendment, so long as the flying of such flags is consistent with other laws. This means that individuals and businesses are still free to fly any flag they choose on private property or public property, as long as it is not in violation of any other laws.

The purpose of this ordinance is to ensure that the display of flags on city property remains consistent and respectful. By limiting the flags that can be flown, the city is promoting a sense of unity and respect for the symbols that represent our nation, state, and city.

The ordinance will become effective 30 days after its adoption. The City of Huntington Beach hopes that this new chapter will promote a sense of unity and pride among its citizens, while also ensuring that the display of flags on city property is consistent and respectful.