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New Huntington Beach committee to investigate mysterious odor

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One city councilmember says the smell has gotten worse

Aerial view of Huntington Beach
City Councilmember Jill Hardy said she recently confused the unknown smell with a stink bomb.

City officials in Huntington Beach are trying to identify the source of a mysterious odor that they say has long plagued residents. On Tuesday, the city council voted unanimously to form a committee to study the smell, which the Daily Pilot describes as “sulfur-like.”

Fire Chief David Segura described the smell as a “long, ongoing issue,” saying that the department often receives complaints of foul odors both close to the coast and in the northern part of the city, near Garden Grove.

He told the council that the South Coast Air Quality Management District was working with the department to uncover the source of the smell and had provided canisters for collecting air samples. Five of those samples are now being processed, he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey called the odor “old news” and suggested that it was time the city got to the bottom of what might be causing it.

According to the Daily Pilot, residents of nearby Seal Beach and Long Beach have also complained of foul smells. Posey speculated that oil rigs or ships off the coast of Huntington Beach might be contributors to the aroma.

“We have to accept that from oil production ... there are some negative results,” said Councilmember Jill Hardy.

But she also said the smell has recently gotten worse. By way of example, Hardy, a teacher, pointed to a recent experience in which she thought a stink bomb had gone off in her classroom.

“It was really bad,” she said.

The new council committee formed to investigate the source of the smell is scheduled to report back by June 1, 2018, with a plan to address the issue.