A. Based on resident complaints regarding commercial video production occurring at residential locations, Staff reviewed the City’s Commercial Photography Ordinance as found in the Huntington Beach Municipal Code Chapter 5.54. Last updated in 1986, the ordinance is not technologically up to date and does not reflect the prevalence of low budget commercial (video) productions. At the July 5, 2016 meeting this item was first introduced and then continued based on City Council request to ensure that certain uses were exempt and to compare the draft ordinance with other ordinances in place in other cities.
Staff conducted surveys of other commercial photography ordinances and discussed best practices with location managers, among others. The new draft for consideration includes updated definitions and clarifies who needs a permit (a film permit has always been required). Commercial photography and production are now defined. A section was added to exempt “photographers or photography related to insurance claims, home sales, persons employed by another governmental agency, or to photographers, motion picture or television cameramen employed by a major news network or bona fide news publication, or to aerial photography, including aero mapping and survey, where the purpose is not to sell the photo or video.” People can take pictures, it is only when there is a clear commercial intent to make a profit from the act (such as photographing the pier to sell prints for a profit). Photographing an article in order to sell it online (such as EBay) is exempt, as is a business taking pictures of customers or products for online display or posting to social media. (However, if you hire a professional photographer that charges you, that person must comply with City business license requirements). Drone video or pictures, if not done for profit, are exempt. This ordinance does not change the current fee, though the City now uses an online film permit application to make this process simpler and quicker.