Proposed State Law to Protect Beach Bonfires Draws Attention of Air-Quality Regulators

A bill by two Orange County legislators aimed at protecting beach bonfires has caught the attention of California air-quality regulators, who this summer imposed restrictions that call for the removal of some fire rings.

According to the agenda posted Thursday, the South Coast Air Quality District Board of Directors meeting in Diamond Bar at 9:30 this morning includes consideration of a position by the board on Assembly Bill 1102 by Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton).

There's just one problem: the agenda was posted online around noon Thursday. The state's open meeting law requires that agendas be posted at least 24 hours in advance of a meeting.

Following the overwhelming support in both houses of the California Legislature of Allen's ACR 52, which supported access to California's beaches and the continued enjoyment of beach bonfires, the Assemblyman joined Quirk-Silva in August in announcing they would introduce AB 1102, which would reverse the air-quality board's rulings restricting fire rings.

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"It would be hard to imagine the Orange County coast without fire rings on the beach," Quirk-Silva said at the time. "While I sympathize with the need to reduce pollution in Orange County, there are several more effective solutions available to us without taking away not only fun and tradition, but also needed revenue for our coastal parks."

"The SCAQMD has overstepped its authority to benefit a few wealthy landowners who want to restrict the enjoyment of our beaches," added Allen. "This legislation will simply allow our bonfires to stay as they have been for over 50 years and for the continued enjoyment of all Californians."

The SCAQMD did not pull the new regulations out of the dirty air. The push to ban fire rings began when the Newport Beach City Council voted to do so following complaints from residents who reside near the nightly smoke pits. The California Coastal Commission intervened to prevent the loss of a recreational amenity at the beach, but deferred to the air-quality regulators for science on the pollution emissions.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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