Coastal residents want the fire pits banned, saying they are a safety and environmental issue, but others -- including county officials -- believe they are a family tradition that should remain where they are. Vikki Vargas reports from Aliso Beach for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 23, 2013.
Orange County supervisors voted Tuesday to let cities decide whether to keep fire pits on beaches, as a debate rages over whether the pits are a cheap way to have fun or dangerous, air-polluting menaces.
Some cities and a regional air-quality agency have taken aim at the fire pits, saying the wood smoke poses a public health threat.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District has proposed banning the beach fire pits throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. The agency will vote on the matter in June.
On Tuesday, Orange County officials sided with supporters of the fire pits.
"Beach fire rings provide a unique, affordable recreational activity for Orange County residents and visitors," according to a report by the county's parks department and CEO of Legislative Affairs.
There are more than 700 fire rings on Orange County beaches, with nearly all maintained by coastal cities. And those cities are split on the issue.
Officials in Newport Beach are in favor of removing their fire pits to do away with smoke problems.
Huntington Beach, however, wants to keep them. The city said if it removed the pits, it could lose $1 million in revenue from parking fees paid by beachgoers who want to sit by crackling fires.
The AQMD's plan would affect the following beaches, which are listed with the number of fire pits on site: