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Newport Beach's push to remove beach fire rings hits snag

September 10, 2012 |  9:44 am

Fire rings

Newport Beach’s effort to remove 60 fire rings from its beaches has suffered another setback as the Coastal Commission — for the second time — returned its application as being incomplete.

"Until we have all the information we feel is necessary to evaluate the impact, we can't take it to the commission. We're not there yet," said Coastal Commission Coastal Programs Analyst Jeffrey Rabin.

The Newport Beach City Council voted in March to remove the beach fire rings, and the city sent its original application to the commission in May, but the commission asked for more information.

Rabin said he received the city's latest application about two weeks ago and that he has initial concerns because the city insists that conducting an air quality study was "not feasible.”

He also questioned the city's reliance on a 2008 air quality rule that banned wood-burning fireplaces in new developments. That rule specifically exempts beach bonfires.

City leaders in Newport Beach have debated removing the fire rings for years, citing safety concerns, air quality and noise.

For some, the fire rings represent a nostalgic summertime tradition. Others, however, say the bonfires are a nuisance and liability because the embers from the fires can continue to smolder long after partygoers have left.

During a public hearing earlier this year, some residents complained about the smoke pouring from the rings and the unruly crowds that gather at night to party around the bonfires.

Rabin said the commission would have 180 days to review the application after it is deemed to be complete.


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Photo: Friends huddle around a fire ring at Corona del Mar State Beach. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.