Should fire pits be banned along certain Southern California beaches? The South Coast Air Quality Management district is scheduled to weigh in on the issue Friday. (Share your thoughts by taking the poll and in our comments below.)
It all started with Newport Beach asking to remove its 60 fire rings, then the issue went regional, with the AQMD threatening this spring to ban the more than 800 fire pits that line the region’s beaches.
It did studies showing smoke from the fires are harmful to beach goers and nearby residents.
But local governments and residents cried foul, calling beach fires a cherished Southern California tradition.
The AQMD’s compromise proposal would prevent fire rings from being within 700 feet of homes, which mainly applies to Newport Beach. But the compromise doesn’t seem to have extinguished the debate.
This week a pro-fire pits group released a survey of 500 Orange County Residents; 89-percent of them strongly favored keeping Newport Beach’s fire rings.
The Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau, which lobbied against any new rules, is offering residents free rides to the AQMD’s meeting in Diamond Bar.
If the AQMD orders the removal of some fire pits, it could set-up a potentially confusing regulatory conflict with the California Coastal Commission, which has repeatedly opposed any attempts to remove fire pits.
Both the AQMD and Coastal Commission are autonomous state agencies.
KPCC's Ben Bergman will live tweet from the meeting beginning about 9 a.m. Friday.