HomeNewsLocalThree HB Council Members Cry Foul on Pacific Airshow Deal

Three HB Council Members Cry Foul on Pacific Airshow Deal

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CNS) – A minority bloc of Huntington Beach City Council¬†¬†members are calling on Attorney General Rob Bonta Thursday to investigate the city’s settlement of a lawsuit with the annual Pacific Airshow stemming from a one-day cancellation due to the 2021 oil spill.

City officials issued a statement regarding the settlement agreement with the Pacific Airshow on Wednesday, claiming it generates “tens of millions of dollars” annually. That triggered a statement from City Council members Dan Kalmick, Rhonda Bolton and Natalie Moser, criticizing the deal and “inviting” Bonta’s office to investigate.

In September of last year, U.S. District Judge David Carter signed off on a $95 million settlement of all claims in class-action litigation involving the pipeline oil leak that gushed thousands of gallons of crude into the ocean off Huntington Beach in 2021.

Carter ruled that the air show was a member of the class and would have a claim of about $1.9 million, but the attorney for the show at the time indicated it might opt out of the class to pursue a potentially more lucrative lawsuit against Amplify Energy.

The city had not released terms of a May 2023 settlement with the air show, but decided to publish it Wednesday.

“As the community knows, the Pacific Airshow is a world-class event here in Huntington Beach that brings in visitors from all over the world,” Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark said. “The city’s settlement with Pacific Airshow LLC ensures the potential for future airshow events, which bring in over a hundred million dollars in economic benefit to the region and tens of millions of dollars directly to the city of Huntington Beach each year.”

City Attorney Michael Gates held back the terms of the agreement “due to the city’s imminent lawsuit with Amplify Energy and other oil spill defendants who have taken responsibility for causing the oil spill in Huntington Beach in 2021,” according to the city’s statement.

City Councilman Dan Kalmick called the deal a “massive gift of public funds and I don’t think it’s legal.”

Kalmick told City News Service the deal is a contractual agreement ensuring the air show stays in Huntington Beach for 40 years.

“We give all the parking away,” he said. “We waive all fees, including security fees.”

Kalmick said, “I believe criminal malfeasance has happened” with the deal, adding, “I’m not an attorney, but if it’s not illegal it should be.”

Kalmick said “no investigation was done to see what our (legal) exposure was” with the lawsuit. He said the city gave away $7 million for “unproven losses,” and noted that it was the “unified command” that canceled the last day of the air show in 2021, not the city.

Kalmick said the agreement is a 10-year-exclusive contract with three 10-year extensions that only the air show can terminate.

If the air show sells the contract to another buyer, the city can only object with a super majority of a City Council vote.

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