I didn’t think I would ever say this, but…I agreed with Coastal Commission staff.
I Need a 12 Step Program
There I said it; I guess admission is the first step to recovery. Commission staff recommended keeping the fire rings, but this last Wednesday the California Coastal Commission continued the city of Newport Beach’s request to remove the 60 fire rings from Newport’s beaches. The Coastal Commission (of which I am decidedly NOT a fan) decided to send the city to the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) for a “left-handed smoke bender.”
In case you are a city councilman, a “smoke bender” would be a Boy Scout reference where older scouts send the tenderfeet out on a wild goose chase.
City Manager, Dave Kiff, is quoted as declaring the Commission’s delay a victory, or at least better than a denial. Probably because what the city will be doing is asking the AQMD to remove the exemption on campfires and beach bonfires, and when has the AQMD ever not taken an opportunity to ban something?
I am From the Government and I am Here to Help
In fact, one of the Coastal Commission members, William Burke, is a former 20 year member of the AQMD. I am not sure which agency has done more to kill business, infringe on property rights, or individual liberties in the Golden State: the California Coastal Commission or the AQMD. Good to know that we have both agencies working together on this one.
It has been a year since the City Council voted to remove the fire rings to protect us from smelling like smoke and keep those in the Persian community from jumping over the fires in their celebration of Nowruz (Persian New Year), not to mention those pyro Boy Scout traditions.
One councilman confided that he couldn’t justify banning smoking on the beach but allowing smoke from camp fires. Of course banning smoking is a nanny action too. But unlike smoking where it is difficult to regulate a location, the fire rings regulate where fires are allowed. If you don’t like wood smoke don’t go to that part of the beach.
As I said before, good thing the city council is watching out for my health. Otherwise I might already be dead.
As for the residents near the beach, 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. And hey, if you don’t like the smoke, I will be glad to live in your beachfront home and “suffer” from the wood smoke.
Let’s hope that the Commission goes with Commission staff recommendations, in spite of what the AQMD may decide. In the Coastal staff report they say that “the beach fire rings have been a part of the recreational experience in Newport Beach since the late 1940s or early 1950s and are a lower cost visitor and recreational facility…Lower cost visitor and recreational facilities shall be protected, encouraged, and where feasible, provided. Developments providing public recreational opportunities are preferred.”
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 (10 p m. – 6 a.m.), require permits, or remove the fire pits on a seasonal basis?
What is Up is Down and What is Down is Up!
Again, I know it is a long shot, and the Coastal Commission doesn’t exactly have a reputation of preserving individual liberties, but I find myself hoping for the very heavy regulatory hand of the Coastal Commission to preserve our liberties over the objection of a very Republican Majority Newport Beach City Council.