Wu: Fire pit removal illustrates lack of conservatism [Corrected]

Who's a conservative?

Let's start with a quote from President Reagan, whom many on the Newport Beach City Council claim they are fans of:

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"


FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version incorrectly spelled Dick Nichols' first name.


Well, the Magnificent Seven on the council are here to help — and I'm terrified.

In my first column for the Daily Pilot, I proudly stated that I'm a conservative and I'm a Republican, to which someone asked me, what's the difference ("Wu: Meet your new conservative columnist," March 11).

Well, my friends, the council has six Republicans (Mayor Nancy Gardner is a decline-to-state voter) and none are conservative.

After an intimidating 20 people came to the March 13 council meeting to speak out against the fire pits in Corona del Mar, the Magnificent Seven stuck their collective fingers up in the air to feel which way the breeze was blowing, and they unanimously banned the fire pits in Newport Beach.

Populists, all seven of them.

And with that quick vote, with no discussion mind you, our freedom to burn our hands — like we all did when we were children — on glowing hot wire hangers was taken away from us by the 20 speakers and the seven cowards on the dais. (The decision still requires Coastal Commission approval.)

Now why did they do this? The "official" reason first, and then my guess as to the real reason.

Officially, the smoke that comes up from whatever is burning in the fire pits is hazardous to our health, and the people who moved to their beachfront homes after the pits were put in during the early 1960s complained about it. These people claim that times are different than in the early '60s, and therefore things that are burnt in the fire pits are more dangerous.

Now, my guess? Elitists don't want people from out of town to go to "their" beaches anymore.

Let me give you an example.

On Lido Isle, Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula, there are many small, private-ish beaches that many of the residents can go to that directly sit on the Newport Harbor.

When I lived on Lido, I remember taking my then-6-month-old triplets to the little beach there. Kids were jumping in and out of the harbor, they were swimming in the harbor, and they were drinking the harbor water. All the while yachts and boats (there's a difference) were cruising by, with their giant twin diesel engines, spewing God-knows-what into the water and into the air.

The harbor is always covered with a very nice slick of oil, gas and trash, all from the "Largest Pleasure Boat Harbor in the Nation." And my kids were eating the oil-soaked sand.

What are the chances, do you think, people will complain about the health hazards these boats have and try to ban them? Are out-of-towners bringing their boats down for the weekend? Nope.

But who goes down to use the fire pits in Corona del Mar? People from Corona del Mar? Nope.

And don't tell me the irony of this fire pits ban isn't lost on someone who realizes that the Persian New Year celebration was going on at the same time Newport Beach's Populist City Council meeting was going on.Try looking for parking in Corona del Mar when that celebration is going on, never mind looking for a quiet place along the beach to sit.

Whoooosshhh! All gone with a quick unanimous vote.

To "combat" my claim that the people who are complaining about these fire pits should have known about them when they moved to Corona del Mar, well, they tell me that the people who use the fire pits were very different in the early '60s than they are today and, from a comment posted by a reader on the Corona del Mar Today website, "The inland gangs now control the once serene CdM beaches."

Inland gangs? Huh? Is that just another word for what Newport Beach Councilman Dick Nichols infamously called "Mexicans" in 2003?

How could anyone forget?

"With grass, we usually get Mexicans coming in there early in the morning, and they claim it as theirs, and it becomes their personal, private ground all day," he said at the time.

We should be moving forward from, not backward toward, those kind of sentiments.

For the first time in my life, and I cannot believe I'm writing this, I'm hoping that the California Coastal Commission agrees with me and denies the permit to remove the fire pits.

We need these bleeding-heart liberals on the commission to protect us from the "republicans" (small r) on the Newport Beach council.

Take a picture folks, the Newport Beach City Council is taking Newport Beach away from us, one fire pit at a time.

JACK WU is an accountant who lives in Newport Beach and practices in Costa Mesa. He is a longtime Republican Party loyalist and a volunteer campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). His column runs Sundays on the Daily Pilot Forum page.

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