Commentary: Curry’s position on fire rings differs from record

I am writing in response to Newport Beach Councilman Keith Curry’s letter regarding local control of beach fire rings [“Commentary: Each city should make its own fire ring decision,” Jan. 11].

I too want to discuss the important issues facing California, such as attempts to weaken Proposition 13 by the Legislature. Just as important, we must also protect Proposition 13 from local elected officials who use different mechanisms to circumvent it, such as a dock fee to increase taxes on homeowners.

I wish we didn’t have to discuss fire rings, but it is Curry’s actions that forced the community to organize in support of our beach bonfires.

As a seasoned politician, Curry knows to use the right words and phrases. He vocally espouses local control and speaks about “state bureaucrats” and “whatever agency” that wants to tell us “how to manage the beach.” While at the same time, his actions attack local control and support unnecessary regulations on local cities by the Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

I agree that local control is important, and no one wants his or her city to be managed by unelected bureaucrats who do not have local knowledge or a stake in the outcome.

However, I cannot agree with Curry’s actions. His behavior is the complete opposite of local control and the values he preaches.

The important question to ask is: How did the AQMD become involved in the first place? In fact, it was Curry and his fellow members on the Newport Beach City Council who brought this issue to the AQMD. If Curry values local control, how does bringing in a state regulatory agency to ban beach bonfires meet his goal of local control?

His actions resulted in Orange County almost losing all of its beach bonfires to unnecessary AQMD regulations. Now that only about 100 beach bonfire rings are at stake, he opposes legislation that would take AQMD out of the process and save the rest of our beach bonfires.

No one can serve two masters. Curry cannot support local control and, at the same time, ask an unelected agency to add a layer of regulations that affect local cities.

EMANUEL PATRASCU is a candidate for the 74th Assembly District and a Laguna Beach resident.

[For the record, 2:43 p.m. Jan. 17: The AQMD got involved with the issue without a specific request from the Newport Beach City Council.]