Coastal Commissioner, Fire Ring Opponent, Resigns

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By Amy Senk | Corona del Mar Today

California Coastal Commissioner William Burke has resigned via a letter dated April 12.

Burke, who also serves as chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, sent the letter to John A. Perez, the speaker of the state assembly.

“I would like to thank you so very much for the opportunity to serve in the California Coastal Commission for over the past decade,” Burke wrote. “It is a resource beyond description in value to this state and to the world. Unfortunately I can no longer serve and therefore tender my resignation immediately.”

The Coastal Commission could decide in July whether to allow the city of Newport Beach to remove 60 beach fire rings. The SCAQMD is scheduled to vote in June on a possible ban on all beach bonfires in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

This week, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, and Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, sent a letter to the state attorney general, claiming that the offices of commissioner of the California Coastal Commission and board member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District are incompatible.

Asked for comment after a Corona del Mar Town Hall meeting earlier this week, City Council member Nancy Gardner and City Manager Dave Kiff both expressed surprise but made no other comments.

At a March 6 Coastal Commission meeting, Burke spoke passionately about the dangers of wood smoke and vowed that the SCAQMD would be examining beach fire rings.

At that meeting, the commissioners held a hearing on the Newport Beach application to remove 60 beach fire rings but delayed a vote until after the AQMD group voted.

At the meeting, Burke said he’d been studying air quality issues for a third of his life, and at this point it was not for himself but for young people.

“Don’t come tell me, ‘I have to have fire rings’ because you need a good time,” he said. “I’m very passionate about this issue.”

At the time, Kiff said Burke’s words were “very powerful.”

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