You've seen Change.org mentioned on this site for various petition drives, from those calling for the firing or reprimanding of all six Fullerton Police officers involved in the Kelly Thomas murder to a Seal Beach massacre victim's husband seeking tighter gun control law--to even a plea for gender-neutral Easy-Bake Ovens. The latest Change.org petition gaining some traction--more than 2,000 signatures in with 23,000 to go--comes from the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau, which is asking the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to allow fire rings to stay on local beaches.
This is only a issue at all in Surf City because of those snotheads down coast in Newport Beach. Some city officials and some residents want to get rid of fire pits there, citing liability issues and the at times toxic smoke blowing into homes along the strand. Others suspect it's a ploy to keep inlanders off the beach, especially at night.
Anyway, Newps is officially all for removing the fire rings that have been around since the 1940s or '50s, but the effort was thwarted by the California Coastal Commission, which enforces the state Coastal Act that protects the historic nature of the coastline, including recreational amenities.
The Coastal Commission staff recommended keeping the rings because they are cheap beach attractions that folks have been enjoying for years. But commission directors recently tabled discussion on the proposal when they caught wind of the AQMD wanting to weigh in as well. That Diamond Bar-based panel is holding a public hearing Thursday and is expected to formally take up the fire-rings matter in May.
After the AQMD has its say, the Coastal Commission is supposed to bring the issue back to one of its meetings that rotate to different sites up and down the coast.
But in the meantime, the Surf City visitors bureau is asking those in favor of keeping the rings to sign its petition aimed at William A. Burke, the AQMD board's chairman, his fellow board members and other officials with the state air-quality agency.
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The loss of the fire rings would result in a loss of $1 million annually in direct parking income for the City of Huntington Beach. It would also have a painful economic impact on other cities that offer beach bonfire rings, including Newport Beach, Dana Point and Los Angeles. The California State Parks of Orange County receive more than 11.9 million visitors annually, resulting in $19 million dollars in revenue. Can the State and local cities afford to lose revenue in these economic times? No, they can't.
You can read the full pitch here: http://www.change.org/petitions/south-coast-air-quality-management-district-governing-board-keep-the-fire-rings-on-our-beaches
The visitors bureau invites you to track the issue by liking this Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheBonfireRings.