California State Beach Fire Pits Under Fire - KMSP-TV

California State Beach Fire Pits Under Fire

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Newport Beach, CA -

Victor Taylor El starts every day with a prayer at Dockweiler State Beach. Every day he walks thru the sand by the fire rings to the water's edge. Concrete fire pits that have been in many a sunset picture over the years. State beaches up and down the coast have them. But, their future may be hazy.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has signaled it's plan to talk about the impact of fire rings on the air quality at State Beaches up and down California at their meeting in May. If they decide there should be restrictions or removal of these fire pits that could have statewide implications. To Victor Taylor, El restrictions are okay, but "elimination is not an option." He says the pits are important to so many. To beachgoers who enjoy them during sunsets to the homeless who sometimes use them to keep warm.

But, others I talked with at Dockweiler say maybe it's time. Raleigh Scovel says plenty of beaches don't allow fires and people still have fun. Marisa Cardenas who grew up near Dockweiler says she's spent plenty a night by fire rings at the beach, but "they omit things into the air that can damage the ozone so, it's a catch 22."

Some Newport Beach residents worried about health impacts wanted the California Coastal Commission to replace them with volleyball courts. At Wednesday's meeting commissioners decided to delay any discussions on the fire rings. Some indicated they actually favored keeping them as attractions at the free beach locations.

It's fine to light ‘em up now, but will that be the case in the future? State air quality officials will talk about that this spring

Hal Eisner


(CNS) California Coastal Commission members postponed a decision on Newport Beach's request to remove fire pits from the city's beaches because they wanted to wait for feedback from South Coast Air Quality Management District officials.

City Manager Dave Kiff and a couple of other city officials went to the commission's meeting in San Diego today, where the agency was considering a staff recommendation to deny the city's permit. City leaders want to rid the beaches of the fire rings because of the health risks from smoke.

One commissioner moved to deny the city's request, but the agency decided to postpone a decision until the South Coast AQMD has a chance to weigh in at a May 3 meeting, said Newport Beach Public Information Manager Tara Finnigan said.

Coastal Commission staffers recommended denying the city's request because, "removal of the fire rings would deny the public access to this popular form of lower-cost public recreation," according to a report.

"In addition, removing the fire rings from the beaches at Newport Beach and Corona del Mar would shift the already high demand for fire rings to other coastal locations, creating new access and recreation demands there," the staff said in its recommendation.

City officials have submitted scientific studies about the impact wood smoke and particulate matter has on health.

The commission's staff did not dispute that the smoke could have an effect on some, but they said the city has failed to show that the fire rings in Newport Beach have presented a public health hazard.

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