It’s the Pits

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The Newport Beach City Council voted to remove the 60 fire rings from Newport’s beaches.  This goes along with the village elders’ previous actions banning smoking on the beach and banning gas powered leaf blowers in our neighborhoods.  I am so glad that the city council is watching out for my health.  Otherwise I might already be dead.

Had the council not voted unanimously to save me from myself, I would never have known that I should not breathe smoke from my campfire as I roasted my marshmallows for my s’mores.  So I took the family down to the beach last week to build a large fire for my s’mores.   A last fling before it is outlawed.

Now, we have “new” information on the deleterious effects of smoke and the nanny sisters have acted.  Plus as an additional bonus the “riff raff” will have to harass the neighbors without a fire, or go back where they came from a little earlier than planned.

Now what will the Boy Scouts do to teach fire safety?  What will the local Persians do to celebrate Nowruz (Persian New Year) where jumping over a fire is a tradition?  Again the elders are saying, “Not Welcome in Newport.”

Back in my Boy Scout days we used send the tenderfeet out on wild goose chases. One of our favorites was a “left-handed smoke bender”, which experienced Boy Scouts knew didn’t exist.  Our invention was great fun.  I was tempted to stand up before the Seven Wise (council)Men and Women and testify to the effectiveness of the Boy Scout invention, but I thought they might take me seriously.

As another columnist here pointed out, most people didn’t live here when the fire pits were installed.  Most people purchased their homes knowing that the fire pits were on the beach, and that they produced smoke when used.

The city didn’t have to remove the fire pits, they could have voted for alternatives, such as enforcing its own rules?  Why not enforce the curfew (10pm-6am), require permits, or remove the fire pits on a seasonal basis?  But rather than actually enforce the city’s rules, our village elders decided that was too difficult and they are simply removing the rings of fire.

Now the city must ask the Coastal Commission for a permit to remove the fire pits.  The question is whether the California Coastal Commission will allow “visitor oriented services” (i.e. keeping the fire pits) to prevail over this NIMBYism and environmentalism.  I never thought that I would be rooting for the Coastal Commission over our City Council.

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  1. Great points! Getting rid of a southern CA tradition of spending time with your family on the beach and watching the joy of your kids making smores… Enforce the rules. Its the minority that ruin it for the majority. And a small number of city council members who ruin it for all OC residents.

  2. Dear Scott, you are not alone when you express your concerns about the nanny-state, boy scout memories (my son is an Eagle Scout), and all the joys of s’mores. Still, you might find some of that “new” research is surprising. Just yesterday the LA Times reported on researchers from Caltech and Berkeley, who won the coveted 2012 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, for showing that pollutants from wood (biomass) burning represent “one of the world’s greatest health threats”, causing a risk of pneumonia, cataracts, heart disease, and chronic lung disease. It is well known and agreed by the American Lung Association, the AQMD, and the EPA, that even limited exposure to wood smoke can trigger asthma, acute bronchitis, and heart attacks. As of 2010, about 8% of adults and 10% of children are reported by the CDC to have asthma, and these numbers are growing. Maybe the village elders were wise to realize that wood smoke creates a barrier as real as a wall, making the public beach inaccessible for about 10% of the public. What do you think… could we find another way to make memories with s’mores… one that doesn’t hurt people?

  3. I agree, Scott. One more instance of NIMBY.

    The smoke usually dissipates rapidly into the atmosphere regardless, but those darn inlanders don’t. “They’re loud and often don’t speak our language and don’t belong here.”

    That is the underlying rationale and we might as well be honest about it.

    The burning biomass that may be causing pneumonia, lung disease, cataracts, asthma, and cooties is probably the Amazon basin and not a few firepits in Newport Beach.

  4. I thought the responsibility of a city council member was also to look out for the greater good of the city. What happened to asking the Newport Beach residents how to proceed? It looks to me that the city council is not doing what is best for the public, but what is best for a few people. Get feedback before you act. I hope they hear from 1,000’s of people. How do I voice my opinion to them? Geez, car accidents kill people, maybe we should ban cars, so nobody gets hurt.

  5. Global warming! Global Warming! Next, all fireworks will be banned. For the polar bears, dontcha know. Then, hot showers, home furnaces, space heaters, stoves and microwaves. Going full-on extremist, electricity will no longer be produced. After all, it makes things hot, and as everyone knows, hot is bad.

    All this silliness makes me hot just thinking about it.

  6. How in the world did the human race ever survive all those millenia of wood-burning campfires/cookfires?

    Speaking of millenia of wood-burning campfires/cookfires… How interesting that this fun activity recently started causing radical changes in our global climate! If only the cavemen would tell us their lost secret of how to build campfires that do not harm our Planet Goddess.

  7. Scott – They should just shut down the beaches and save money. Make all nature areas off limits. Then we should all leave the state so California can return to its pristine glory of plants, animals, and dirt. No more pollution, smog, etc. Oh what a great place it would be.