HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Changes implemented at this weekend’s U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach are designed to deter the rioting and vandalism that marred last year’s event.
Organizers say the competition will be more about sports and will drum down some of the free entertainment.
“We’ve had concerts in the past. We’ve had a lot of booths and activations and a kind of a carnival feel. We’re dialing that down this year, again, to bring the focus back to sport. Some of that stuff you don’t need,” James Leitz of IMG Action Sports.
Police say they also plan to change the way they patrol the event. Officers will be on horseback and on bicycles. Main Street will be open to vehicle traffic.
One of the suggestions to come out of task force meetings in response to last year’s chaos was the addition of 16 security cameras installed in downtown Huntington Beach.
“Our cameras cover all the areas on the beach where the crowds are going to be: up on the pier, under the pier and all the way up Main Street and into our neighborhoods,” police Chief Robert Handy said.
Officers are watching them live from police headquarters and can deploy the necessary resources as soon as trouble starts. Handy said the footage will be stored permanently in case a crime occurs and the video is needed as evidence.
That video could have proved useful when one of the rioters last year threw a street sign through the window of the Main Street shop Easy Rider and someone ran off with a bicycle.
Rocky Sheehan, who manages Ra Sushi Bar downtown, hopes the negative publicity doesn’t linger long.
“Just hoping that people will come back and have a better memory and experience than what they experienced last year,” Sheehan said.