Familiar Face Leads Local GOP

Howard Hills
Howard Hills

About 50 members of the Laguna Beach Republicans elected longtime resident Howard Hills as its incoming president at a meeting on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Wasting no time, Hills and the local GOP group jumped into a political battle at the county Board of Supervisors this past week, contributing to the defeat of a proposal for a social host ordinance, which would allow hosts to be held responsible for underage drinking on their premises.

County Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s proposal died Tuesday, Dec. 17, for lack of a second. Earlier, Laguna’s GOP put out a call to Republicans countywide to press other supervisors to reject the proposal, which they described in a resolution as “setting the stage for botched arrests and an unnecessary as well as unjustified intrusion on the privacy, family rights and due process rights of citizens in their homes …”

A similar ordinance stirred controversy when enacted in Laguna Beach last December and was vociferously opposed by Hills as well as others, who included then high school student Adam Kaufman. Spitzer, a former prosecutor, personally testified before Laguna’s City Council in support of the measure last November.

Kaufman presented to supervisors signatures of 900 opponents to the measure, collected in an online petition in recent weeks. He was among three who spoke in opposition to the measure during the session on Tuesday; 11 others testified in support.  “I don’t know if I made that much of an impact,” said Kaufman, who outlined the ordinance’s unintended consequences in his testimony.

“This was a victory for people power and personal liberty,” Hills said in an email from Washington, D.C., where he was attending a meeting. “The Board did its homework and got educated about the privacy, due process and family rights issues as well as the politically opportunistic aspects of an alcohol-only SHO. This confirms that city councils that approved the SHO Spitzer was pushing did so without getting educated about its true implications.”

Hills, a lawyer that works as a district representative for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, says he’s been active in Laguna’s public policy debates since 1967. “I am looking forward to a year of open honest discussion, discourse and debate on the issues that impact our quality of life. What we do here in our hometown is in many ways more important than what happens in Santa Ana, Sacramento or Washington.”

In a statement, Michele Hall, the outgoing president of the GOP group, said members are dedicated to building on the success the organization experienced during local elections in 2012 and in the town’s civic life in the last year, referring to the defeat of a proposed parking garage and entryway near City Hall.

Establishing a GOP headquarters during the 2012 election, absent for 30 years, contributing to the successful City Council election of Steve Dicterow and defeating the parcel tax on the November 2012 ballot are some of the accomplishments Hall says were achieved under her tenure.

“LBR has stayed and will continue to stay engaged on important issues before the City Council and the school board, finding common ground amongst our neighbors and fellow citizens on issues that define us as a unique community. We are truly committed to working on what is right for our town based on sound public policy values,” she said.

Other officers include Lori Wolfe and Michelle Monda and a board that includes Christopher Kling, Ray Brooks, Martha Lydick, Emil Monda and Michele Hall.

Anyone interested in joining should email [email protected] 

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  1. Wow, I pray that a Social Host Ordinance isn’t seen as a “Republican” issue. A SHO is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it is a civil rights and public safety issue. I feel that one is degrading the issue by labeling it as “left” or “right” when the SHO is so much more than that; a SHO concerns everybody. By labeling a rejected SHO as a “Republican Victory” I feel like the significance is diminished as it forces readers to take biases and draw sides before legitimately considering implications of a Social Host Ordinance.

  2. Adam is right on the mark. Back during the Laguna Beach SHO controversy, half of the anti-SHO youth leaders were liberal (myself and Kauffman). The other half were conservative. A Social Host Ordinance is more of an issue of pragmatism than politics. Public safety issues shouldn’t be politicized.

  3. I’m also upset that you’ve decided to label the defeated SHO a GOP victory. It’s an ordinance that has received support and faced opposition from people affiliated with both parties, the GOP just happened to throw its support behind it this time. I’m sure that Democrats, like Republicans contain a diverse group of people who have different ideas about how to make sure minors make good decisions around controlled substances, but for the sake of argument I’m going to compare this law to marijuana prohibition. A large number of liberal voters believe that our war on drugs and laws prohibiting marijuana have harmed the United States more than they have helped it because they are impractical and caused many unforeseen consequences like revitalizing the illicit drug trade that we passed those laws to destroy. Many liberals view the SHO in a similar light: a draconian piece of social legislation that will not mitigate the effects of teen drinking, but rather push it into secret where teens will be exposed to more risk and become afraid to call for necessary help when one if their friends has too much to drink. The law also allows for potential breaches of our civil rights because it is so vaguely worded. Both parties believe in blocking redundant and overbearing legislation, please don’t attempt to divide it along party lines, and consider either clarifying your point of view in this article or refracting your writing entirely.


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