Coastal Commission delays the removal of 60 Newport Beach fire rings

Summary of Coastal Commission recommendation. (Photo courtesy of the California Coastal Commission)

Kylie Corbett

A delayed vote on the removal of 60 fire rings in the city Newport Beach was ruled by the California Coastal Commission on Mar. 6 at a public meeting.

The Coastal Commission staff is waiting for further directions from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. All fire rings however, could be gone by summer time, as AQMD is expected to revisit the issue in May.

Reports show that the staff from the city of Newport proposed substituting recreational amenities on Mar. 1 in a letter to the Coastal Commission.  

The report reads, “At Corona del Mar State Beach, the City has indicated they could convert the fire ring area to open sand beach, add five volleyball courts, a basketball court, a playground, fitness stations, and a lighted picnic shelter on the beach near the concession stand.”

Commission staff disagreed with the city, urging that some of the recreational amenities could be added without removing the fire rings.

“Commission staff advised city staff that the alternative recreational facilities are not comparable and do not provide the same levels of service as the fire rings,” the report reads. “Beach fire rings are a unique recreational facility for which there is no substitution.”

City dwellers near the beach however, support the removal of the fire rings, as they pose a threat to people’s health.

In a letter to the Coastal Commision in favor of removal, Newport resident Sherilyn Sarb wrote, “During the summer months, our home is filled with smoke from the fire rings. There is no way to escape this toxic smoke when it is in your own home.”

Other residents however, oppose removal, as the fire rings bring the community together.

“Families and groups use these fire pits continuously during the spring, summer, and fall, and they provide a safe place for people to barbeque, and enjoy the fire on the beach,” wrote Valerie Wickland. “If they were not there, people would still have fires, they would just have them illegally.”

As news of this issue travels, students around Saddleback College wonder if the same could happen to surrounding beaches closer to home.

“If Newport goes through with it, I could see it being a possibility around here,” said Darryl Grant, 22, business. “Relocating the fire pits is a possibility, because there are areas on the beach that aren’t backed by homes.”

Visit savethepits.com to sign a petition to keep all 60 fire rings that lie amongst Newport Beach. 

** To see all info obtained through reports, visit http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2013/3/W18b-3-2013.pdf

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