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2 OC Cities Square Off In Heated Debate Over Potential Fire Pit Ban

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DIAMOND BAR (CBSLA.com) — The beach bonfire debates heated up Thursday morning!

Huntington Beach and Newport Beach officials expressed their opposing arguments to the South Coast Air Quality Management District officials in a 9 a.m. meeting.

The meeting was held so the agency could hear public feedback on a recommendation from the agency’s staff to prohibit fire rings on Southern California beaches.

The city of Newport Beach wants to remove 33 fire rings near Balboa Pier and another 27 rings on a stretch of Corona del Mar State Beach after beach front residents complained of smoke and related health issues.

The city of Huntington Beach fears that if Newport’s ban is approved, it could affect the fire pits across their beaches, which officials say bring in more than $1 million in parking revenue annually.

Huntington Beach, which has had fire rings for six decades, has more than any other beach city in Orange and Los Angeles counties, authorities said.

Newport Beach officials requested to remove the fire rings from the city’s beaches, but the California Coastal Commission postponed a decision earlier this month because it wanted to wait for feedback from the AQMD.

A Facebook page and petition were created by the local chamber of commerce to save what many residents call a cherished tradition. As of Thursday morning, the petition had more than 3,300 supporters.

The rings “provide an affordable means of gathering family and friends on Southern California shores to celebrate our outdoor beach lifestyle while enjoying the glow of a warm fire,” a press release from “Save Southern CA’s Beach Bonfire Rings” said.

The AQMD will hear both sides and is expected to make a decision soon.

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