Newport won't meet with AQMD board member

Newport Beach will not hold a public hearing with a South Coast Air Quality Management board member on the fire ring debate similar to one held in Huntington Beach, a city official said Thursday.

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff confirmed in an email that the city isn't interested in having talks with the AQMD about the city's application to remove 60 fire rings at Corona del Mar State Beach and Balboa Pier.

"We didn't ask the South Coast AQMD to weigh in on our [Coastal Development Plan] application," he wrote. "We didn't ask the district to ban fire rings basin-wide."

Huntington Beach residents, an assemblyman and even a few Newport Beach residents filled the Huntington Beach City Council Chambers on Friday to tell AQMD board member and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido why their fire rings should stay on its beaches.

"If an unelected body can take away these fire rings, what's next?" Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) asked at the special meeting. "A barbecue in our back yard? A fire pit or a fireplace?...What's going to be next? Where does it stop? Let an elected board make the decision. That way, there's some accountability to the citizens that we serve."

According to AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood, the June 7 hearing regarding the fire pits has been postponed until later this summer. He said the district is aiming to have a meeting sometime in July.

Fire ring proponents and Kiff said that the issue should be dealt on a local basis.

"We support local control on this and many other matters," Kiff wrote. "This is and has always been a matter between Newport Beach and the Coastal Commission, and it will hold its public hearing, as noted in July."

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