I have been a citizen of Orange County for 37 years and have frequently enjoyed the beach and the fire rings.
Never have I heard of a problem until this year. It appears that the rich of Newport Beach have convinced themselves that they are being inconvenienced again (special airport regulations) and have discovered that they can use the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to their advantage.
I urge you to reject any attempts to ban the use of the wood-burning fire rings on Orange County beaches. Let the city of Newport Beach do as they see fit within Newport Beach.
The author gave the Independent permission to publish this letter written to AQMD board members William Burke, Judith Mitchell and Shawn Nelson.
Air agencies make decisions without research
Chris Epting's recent articles on the fire ring issue and the AQMD reminded me of two recent surprises regarding rules from the AQMD or California Air Resources Board (CARB).
I recently refinished a natural wood exterior door threshold and went to purchase some exterior polyurethane to protect it. Surprisingly, one can no longer purchase exterior polyurethane in this area due to the fumes given off when using it.
A few months ago I went to purchase some windshield washer fluid that would withstand freezing weather because we were leaving on a ski trip to Utah. Again, no longer available in this area due to the fumes given off when using it.
I have great difficultly imagining the impact on air quality the removal of these products have on the environment, especially the windshield washer fluid. It's not like people are spraying their windshields all the time and most people use it during rainy weather when air quality is not an issue.
Balance this against the safety issue when driving in freezing conditions and one cannot clear the windshield because the system is frozen.
As pointed out by Epting and Thomas Eastwood in his April 11 letter it appears these agencies make decisions without attempting any actual measurement research.
Fire ring issue is exercise of power
The fire ring issue is the perfect example of how politics often trumps arguments regarding science, technology, public health, community needs and civic interests.
In the past, power politics has been used to support developers, industry and corporations in thwarting the will of the community when it comes to our coastal environment and the negative impacts associated with new development. It has usually been a case of officials putting profits over people.
Now, with the fire ring issue, we have another special interest twist. We have South Coast Air Quality Management District officials purportedly catering to wealthy and influential residents in Newport Beach who are seeking to lord it over the rest of us in managing our coastal environment. Science, technology, public health and civic resources are taking a back seat in the effort to eliminate fire rings despite compelling reasons to move more slowly and carefully in serving the common good.
This arrogant exercise of power emanating from the SCAQMD board and its concomitant efforts to either ignore or squelch criticism or opposition is abuse of the regulatory process pure and simple.
Regardless of which side of the fire ring issue citizens take, we should all agree that prejudicial politics should have no place in the decision-making process.
Staying put could mean money for changes
While the present Senior Center is ideally situated near the Pacific Ocean so that it never needs air conditioning and requires heat only one month of the year, it does need a new coat of paint and a thorough cleaning.
In a real community, the local paint stores would contribute paint and brushes at cost. As for labor, I'll be happy to paint as long as I don't need to climb a ladder. And there are plenty of grandchildren who could be volunteered to do both.
True, the developers and politicians won't get the profits and kickbacks they would from a brand new center or from redeveloping the land on which the present building sits, but surely we can find residents willing to contribute to a fund for destitute developers and politicians.
Why not use some of the money saved by not moving to open all the rooms at the center, bring back the computer room closed now for several years, hire more staff so the center can be open more hours and lower the cost to seniors of the activities?
Seniors now will never see 'palace'
Tim Geddes presents a reasonable argument against the so-called "Palace in the Park" senior center ("Mailbag: Situation has changed, center plans must too," April 4).
It is interesting to observe, however, most of those of us who now use the center will never see this "palace." By the time it is built (if ever) Geddes will be the beneficiary of said "palace."
Center location holds no dangers
As a senior who lives near the proposed senior center, I have never seen any of the "dangers" to us older folks mentioned in the commentary.
Since letter writer Shelly Stone is looking for a place without traffic, children playing, teenagers, dogs and other distractions, the only place I can think of in our city would be the Good Shepherd Cemetery.
I prefer Central Park — with or without kids.
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