Fire Ring Protection Bill Passes Assembly

The bipartisan effort seeks to make sure all Californians have access to a time-honored tradition of the beach bonfire.

A proposed state law would protect your ability to have a beach bonfire. Patch photo credit: Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime
A proposed state law would protect your ability to have a beach bonfire. Patch photo credit: Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime
California Assembly lawmakers Monday approved a bill to give protection to beach bonfires -- which has been a hot button issue along the Orange County coastline ever since Newport Beach moved to get rid of its 60 beach-side fire rings. 

Assembly Bill 1102, which would protect beach bonfires for all Californians, passed 64-0. The bill was proposed by state Assemblyman Travis Allen(R-Huntington Beach) and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton). It  would require the South Coast Air Quality Management District to work together with cities and the California Coastal Commission on proposals prior to the removal of any fire rings.

“Beach bonfires are an activity enjoyed by people from all across California, including those who cannot afford multi-million-dollar beachfront homes.  This legislation will ensure that every Californian has access to our beautiful beaches through the affordable attraction of a beach bonfire,” Allen said in a released statement.

AB1102 now moves onto the Senate.

The SCAQMD’s recently enacted amendments to Rule 444, to require that fire rings be at least 700 feet away from residences and 100 feet apart, would affect more than 700 bonfire rings in Orange and Los Angeles counties and is set to go into effect on March 1. 

AB 1102 would protect the Southern California tradition of beach bonfires by requiring the SCAQMD to work with local cities and other coastal oversight agencies to prove that there will be no loss of beach access, no harm to local economies, and that any environmental concerns are addressed before a city can remove the fire rings from the beaches in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The Newport Beach City Council voted in March 2012 to remove the city's concrete fire rings, including the 27 rings at Big Corona Beach and the 33 near the Balboa Pier, citing potential health and safety risks. 

Supporters maintain the fire rings are a long-standing Southern California tradition that signify the beach lifestyle and provide the community with low-cost recreation.

Brenda January 29, 2014 at 11:10 PM
ROSE, I totally agree with you!! At 54 now, I have so many memories at a kid, teen and even into my 20's and having my babies and going to the beaches. Then as I got older, went to a few "people up on the hills parties" and like all of them up and down the coast it was nothing but complain about all the riff raff filling up their town on weekends, in the summer, etc. They talked about everyone like, hate to even say this cause its so stereotyped, but white, hillbilly, rednecks coming out of their trailer parks.!! Those people need to seriously realize those cities would not even be there if it wasnt for the young beach culture that started WAYY back. That is what brought business's and City development to the beach areas, not Mr. JONES in a mansion on a Hill.
Douglas Martin January 30, 2014 at 08:08 AM
I am a Capistrano Beach homeowner. My family has utilized the local fire rings for 25 years. The ONLY problems with the fire rings at Doheny State Beach and the County lot in Capo Beach, is that people burn everything from oil-soaked pallets to mattresses to used diapers to garbage. Residents of Capo Beach have had to call the fire department on several occasions because of thick, black, and surely-toxic smoke that gets into homes. The solution: 1. Only clean firewood, purchased from the State and County, should be allowed to be burned. 2. Charge a premium for the firewood, with the proceeds paying for enforcement of the rules, and maintenance of the fire rings. So simple.
Brenda January 30, 2014 at 08:43 AM
Douglas, you do have a major point there. I have not seen the trash myself but I have heard about it from other friends. Unless I actually went every weekend or more in the summer I would not know how often people would be doing this. I hate to use the word "People" in even describing them if they are burning anything other then dried wood. The beaches are for everyone to enjoy and if someone is down there burning trash or any items that make toxic smoke or even any burning lasting smoke at all, like green wood does, then they should be cited. There will always be a few in a group to ruin everything unfortunately and whats the worse is they are completely oblivious to their actions and do not care about anyone having to smell it.
Smokey Bear January 30, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Douglass, I totally agree with your comment about people burning trash!! I think that every fire ring in CA at all campgrounds & day use areas, should have to purchase a permit to have a fire & only be allowed to burn clean dry wood purchased from the state park. They should increase fire & forest rangers in all CA campgrounds & parks & write alot of tickets for not obeying all the rules & completely drowning your campfire when you are done! I do not ever build fires unless we are camping & it gets below 30, which only happened 1x in the last 20 yrs. But I umderstand people who have kids or a beach party etc, who want the fire, Just do it clean & put it out & OH, Do Not Cut Trees or Brush from Campgrounds or Burn Trash wood clippings or palates!! Please Be Responsible!!! Thank You!! & Clean Up All Your Trash!! Reduce, Reuse Recycle!!
Sinjin January 30, 2014 at 02:26 PM
I for one am disappointed in the CA legislature for passing AB 1102. This just makes it more difficult and costly for coastal municipalities to remove or restrict fire rings. I like many others have enjoyed bonfires around a fire ring growing up, but we know now that the smoke generated by these fire rings is extremely harmful to human health as well as the environment. Ironic that Laguna Beach bans cigarette smoking on its beaches, when the smoke generated by these wood-burning (or trash-burning) fires is HUNDREDS of times more harmful and toxic to humans. There are a lot of fun things we did "back in the day" that we no longer do now that we better understand the consequences. Back in the day (1960s) people used to just leave their trash on the beach when they left. We smoked cigarettes like they were good for us. We fished wherever we wanted without a license and in the process drove species like abalone and white seabass to the brink of extinction. At some point we need to grow up and stop living in denial and give up these romantic notions about how much fun it was "back in the day." Being an adult means sometimes having to make difficult decisions like this. The CA legislature shows that they are not up to the task of doing there jobs and all they care about is getting re-elected. I applaud the City of Newport beach for showing intestinal fortitude and doing the right thing. I hope Governor Brown does the right thing and vetoes AB 1102.


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