Mailbag: Even those without clout can dislike fire rings

I read Chris Epting's perspective on the beach fire issue this morning and I wanted to give you another perspective.

I live in Huntington Beach about two blocks from the beach. I am not a "wealthy person" who is trying to keep others from beach traditions.

I have asthma, I really do. Smoke from the beach fires is one of my triggers. Exposure to it can push me over the "asthma fence" and put me in the emergency room. During the summers I cannot drive down Pacific Coast Highway with the car windows open. I cannot ride my bicycle at the beach.

Wearing a face mask does not help. We cannot keep the windows open in the house in the late afternoon or evening, especially on weekends. I am telling you the health issues are very real and if it is bad for me, it is bad for everyone.

Yes there are other things that add to particulate pollution but beach fires add quite a bit and exposure to them is very unhealthful and unsafe for individuals like me. Similar to cigarette smoke, which has many studies showing the health effects of second hand smoke, beach fire smoke falls in to this category.

Huntington Beach says it will cost millions in tax revenue if fires are eliminated. Why is profits more important than individuals' health?

Please know these are real issues and with the increased crowds of people at the beach burning wood, the smoke has increased over the years.

Beth Shafer

Huntington Beach


Fire ring offerings often include toxic materials

Of course the fire rings provide far too much fun to ever be banned from the beach but don't automatically assume that the people who do want them removed are all just a bunch of heartless inhuman monsters.

While every fire starts out using some sort of wood, as the night goes on and spirits rise, the wood usually runs out. That's when the younger folk may begin to utilize other combustibles besides wood. Trash, styrofoam coolers, plastic chairs, plastic trash cans and just about anything else that will fit inside the pit is fed into the flames.

Some of those materials burn well and others don't but they nearly all release a toxic smelling smoke that can't be good to breathe. If you get to the beach early in the morning before the rings are cleaned out, you can see what's left of the smoldering remains for yourself.

It's probably best to stay on the upwind side of those dying fires. 

Chris Borg

Huntington Beach


Joy of fire rings should be protected

Chris Epting hit just about every reason to keep fire rings along the beach.

The only one he missed was when a teenage girl (Me about 30-plus years ago) would cherish wearing home her boyfriend's sweat shirt on a chilly night and smelling the smoke scent over and over to remind her of the great evening shared together.

Keep the fire rings. Those who are allergic to smoke, well move along. The shoreline is vast and the smell doesn't travel that far.

Lisa Antonacci

Huntington Beach


Saving the Earth hardly starts with fire pits

Melville tells us in the opening lines of "Moby Dick," "Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries — stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. There is magic in it."

Add the magic of a bonfire and you understand why fire rings are needed for one's deepest reveries. The beaches are forever public and not the front yards of those priveleged beachfront dwellers. If they really care about air quality, let's start with the big factories that are daily belching tons of coal and petroleum carbon emissions into our atmosphere each day.

On a list of the world's 50 most serious offenders, bonfires would be near the bottom. After all, bonfires have been around since the cave man, but Mother Earth never had air quaility problems until the Industrial Age arrived.

Richard Reinbolt

Huntington Beach


Senior Center's dirty little secret

Many seniors have paid to take classes to learn to play bridge at the Senior Center.

There is a card room for their use to play for free, except when it is rented out.

When that room is full of players, empty rooms are not available to seniors unless they want to rent them.


Marilyn Love

Huntington Beach


Situation has changed, center plans must too

I am truly sick and tired of supporters of the "Palace In The Park", like Bob Dettloff and J.D. Miles, characterizing responsible opponents of an expensive new facility in Central Park as being "anti-senior." 

Most opponents I know support enhanced services and programs for our senior population in Huntington Beach. Most also support providing modern facilities for our seniors. Most, if not all, decry the current Rodgers Senior Center as being inadequate and dilapidated. 

I think there is general agreement on those points. Supporters of the "palace" point to the passage of Measure T in 2006 (razor thin at 51.1% as it was) as somehow justifying proceeding with this project no matter what. That is simply wrong-headed and irresponsible. 

The original plans for the "palace" called for the expenditure of upward of $22 million on the project.

Many supporters wanted to spend more but were constrained by the limits of the Quimby Act funds from Pacific City that were being wholly devoted to the facility. I was at some of the original planning meetings when some of these "ups and extras" were turned down as being too extravagant. 

Now that the take from Pacific City has been chopped down by up to two thirds of the hoped-for funds, both the location (which requires expensive grading and prepping) and the facility (at 45,000 square feet) are no longer feasible. There are no credible ways to close the $15 million chasm between anticipated funding and the original plans. And yet, the gung-ho supporters of a brand spanking new facility refuse to get real.  These supporters are entitled to their own wishful thinking, but should not attempt to foist their unrealistic views on the rest of us. 

It is not being "anti-senior" to demand that we live within our means in providing enhanced facilities for this deserving segment of our population. Times have changed since the heady days of 2006. We all have had to weather the financial hardships of a down economy. This includes plans in a number of areas, not just development projects like the senior center. 

The city has no business pursuing a project it knows it cannot afford either now or in the immediate future.  Social and political pressure has been applied by "palace" supporters to overturn both common sense and fiscal prudence and commit to the original plans. 

Our city leaders must resist this pressure and level with our citizenry about the realities of this project.

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach


Opinion on LeBard Park didn't tell whole story

Celia Jaffe's Lebard commentary, ("Sale of LeBard property is best plan," March 28) failed to state that in order to achieve her plan the existing baseball fields and city park would be demolished. What gall. The city park would then be reconstructed in an undesireable area under Southern California Edison power lines. Millions of dollars wasted needlessly.

The school district can develop such homes on the footprint of the school building site while leaving the public's park and the ball fields in place. The sale of this site should yield close to $3 million, which should be more than adequate to house 38 people in a new site. Or the district can choose to use the vacant and modernized Kettler school site for their new headquarters.

The public has already spoken. Not one person spoke in favor of the school district's proposed plan at the community meeting held last July.

Ed Kerins

Huntington Beach

ED KERINS is an advisor for Save LeBard Park.


Plastic bags are reusable

I reuse the plastic bags I get at the store for my garbage in my  tiny kitchen condo. My garbage bags hang on the inside of the door under the sink.  Paper bags wouldn't work. 

I use cloth bags sometimes but know I need to wash them to keep them clean — what a nuisance.  

My neighbors reuse their plastic bags to pick up after their dogs.

Mary Jane Higby

Huntington Beach


Banning plastic bags is costly in many ways

I love plastic bags I get at the store because I always forget to get the cloth ones my wife keeps in the trunk and take them in with me. 

I understand the cloth ones have to be washed to keep them clean and that's not my department. I am constantly reusing the plastic ones to take objects to other places, so they get recycled a lot at our house.

Please don't vote to ban them. They would be replaced by costly alternatives. People would be put out of work and isn't that what we're trying to prevent? 

Ronald Higby

Huntington Beach


Recycle and enforce, don't ban

I am writing in response to Richard Lara's commentary regarding use of plastic bags in Huntington Beach ("Councilmen, support bag ban," Mailbag, March 28).

I don't understand how banning the use of a safe and sanitary product results in less pollution. When I walk along the beach I find many more types of trash than just plastic bags. Banning a product will not stop people from throwing their trash on the ground. 

Current recycling efforts of plastic bags have doubled in the past nine years and support thousands of green jobs. Recycled bags are used to make new plastic bags, fences, backyard decks, and other building materials.

Reusable bags may sound better in concept but have many drawbacks including high levels of lead and bacteria found in many reusable bags. Without frequent washing, bacteria found in reusable bags will grow 10 times faster in a hot car trunk, which is where most people conveniently store their bags. 

Plastic bags provide a safe and clean alternative for grocery purchases. We should be focused on recycling efforts and enforcement of litter laws, not banning products.

Carol Woodworth

Huntington Beach

CAROL WOODWORTH is a member of Surf City E.A.T. Team.


Ban on plastic bags is waste of time

I am distressed by our Huntington Beach City Council's priorities and direction.

With all the important issues our city faces, they choose to waste time and resources on non-issues, such as, the banning of plastic bags in the city. How is this new regulation going to improve the quality of our lives?

I, my neighbors and everybody else I know who lives in the city are already recycling their plastic bags. This ban will have negligible impact on our environment, both locally and globally. However, we do know that it will have deleterious consequence on the health of our citizens by forcing them to use reusable bags that will breed bacteria, which will contaminate our food.

So what is the real purpose of this ban? Is it for council members to score an achievement in their political resume? Is it to score political points with the environmental special interest groups? Are they testing the limits of their power? Or is it all of the above? Where will it stop? Is the next step, the banning of garbage bags, Zip-lock bags, Styrofoam containers, etc.? And how is this ban going to be enforced? Are the police going to be burdened with this task? Or is the council going to set up a new agency to enforce this ban?

Enough of nanny government by our City Council.

Raymond Raines

Huntington Beach

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