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No End In Sight In SoCal Fire Ring Debate

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HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBS/AP) — Orange County residents gathered Friday to participate in an ongoing debate about a Southern California tradition—beach bonfires.

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

The city’s request prompted air quality regulators to propose a ban of nearly 850 bonfires along miles of coastline in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The city of Huntington Beach fears that if the South Coast Air Quality Management District approves the ban, they will lose nearly $1 million in parking revenue each year.

On Friday, the mayors of Huntington Beach and Santa Ana listened while supporters and opponents of the fire pits had their say at a meeting at Huntington Beach City Hall.

“Especially when we talk about revenue, I think it’s sad if we put revenue above the health of the children who are breathing the smoke on an ongoing basis,” said Julie Sandercock.

“Think about the people who are complaining about the fire pits in Newport. There are a small number of them. Then think about the people who use the fire pits all over California and the amount of tourists who come and use them. That’s a whole lot more, thousands more, possibly millions,” said fifth-grader Emily Fitzpatrick.

The AQMD was set to vote on the ban June 7, but the hearing was pushed back to a later date for more air quality tests.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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