Dozens of beachgoers gathered around bonfires in Huntington Beach Sunday for a rally in support of the waterfront fire rings targeted for removal by shoreline residents and a regional air-quality agency.
Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) invited supporters to Huntington Beach State Park (map) to show their love for the fire rings.
"We're going to see these bonfires continue for years and years," Allen said. "We've had them for 60 years here in Southern California. This is a tradition that everyone associates with our beach lifestyle."
Huntington Beach is among the cities that want to keep the fire pits. The city's visitors bureau says the pits bring in $1 million in revenue from parking fees paid by beachgoers who want to gather near a bonfire.
Orange County supervisors waxed nostalgic – remembering their own coming-of-age experiences around the fire rings – when they voted on April 23 to let cities decide whether to keep fire pits on beaches.
There are more than 700 fire rings along the Orange County shore, and nearly all of them are maintained by coastal cities.
Residents with beachfront homes want the rings removed, saying smoke wafting from the fire pits pollute the air near their homes.
On their side is the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which has proposed banning beach bonfires in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The agency is expected to vote on the matter in June.
The AQMD's plan would affect the following beaches, which are listed with the number of fire pits on site:
- Dockweiler State Beach, Playa del Rey, 90
- Point Fermin Park, San Pedro, 3
- Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro, 6
- Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach, 182
- Huntington City Beach, Huntington Beach, 83
- Huntington State Beach, Huntington Beach, 200
- Balboa Beach, Balboa/Newport Beach, 33
- Corona del Mar State Beach, Newport Beach, 27
- Alisa Beach County Park, South Laguna, 7
- Doheny State Beach, Dana Point, 32
- Capistrano Beach Park, Capistrano, 4
- North Beach, San Clemente, 4
- San Clemente City Beach, San Clemente, 9
- San Clemente State Beach, San Clemente, 160