State and city representatives from around California will congregate at one of Huntington Beach’s fire rings Sunday afternoon to send a “clear message” to air-quality regulators that they’re here to stay.
From 3 to 6 p.m. at the fire rings off Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) has invited California dignitaries and the Huntington Beach community to join him in a round of s’mores and hot dogs in an effort to raise awareness about the South Coast Air Quality District’s proposal to ban fire pits in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Some of the invited legislators include Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) and state Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine).
Allen wants to show AQMD that Surf City’s fire pits are a part of the city’s beach culture, he said.
“Everybody comes to our beaches. They are known the world over,” he said. “A beach bonfire while watching the sunset is a classic California tradition.”
Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman and Councilmen Joe Carchio, Joe Shaw and Jim Katapodis will be in attendance to oppose.
“We have to absolutely let [AQMD] know that we’re not going to stand idly by while they make a decision to remove those fire pits from our beach,” Carchio said. “Let us make the decisions for our own city. AQMD needs to take a step aside and let the cities have local control.”
The debate over the issue was sparked after Newport Beach made a request to remove its fire rings near Balboa Pier and at Corona del Mar State Beach because of negative health impacts.
“I don’t have much to say about anybody else’s city. They control their own destiny,” Carchio said. “Let them do whatever they want to do. Let us do what we want to do.”
AQMD’s discussion about the ban had been postponed until June 7 after Huntington Beach was able to provide the air regulators with a correspondence from the California Coastal Commission earlier in April.
Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Wheeler will also be down at the state beach and said the city would take an economic hit should AQMD consider the ban.
“This is not only a community issue and a part of our culture, it’s also an economic issue,” Allen said. “This brings people together and it brings revenue to the city, the county and the state. This is something that we should have access to.”
Wheeler estimates the city would lose more than $1 million in revenue and that local business can lose up to thousands of dollars, he said.
“People come to the beach and stop at our grocery stores and restaurants,” Wheeler said. “They bring food and fire wood to the beach … Revenue will all go away and that’s a huge impact on our business.”