Huntington Beach seeks to sidestep city attorney, hire its own lawyer

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Huntington Beach City Council is set to discuss hiring an outside legal firm, but City Attorney Michael Gates says it would directly defy the city charter. Photo by Shutterstock.

Members of Huntington Beach City Council have a new year's resolution: Hire a new lawyer.

Huntington Beach is the only city in Orange County where the city attorney is elected by voters rather than appointed by council. City Attorney Michael Gates was elected by voters in 2014 and ran for reelection unopposed in 2018.

Some city council members are angry that they don’t have control over who represents the city legally. At the December 21 council meeting — the last meeting of 2021— members are set to discuss an agenda item that would allow its members to select and procure the services of “an outside legal firm that would directly report to and support the City Council.”