The South Coast Air Quality Management District has approved new regulations for beach bonfire pits that will preserve the activity on Los Angeles and Orange county beaches while addressing public health concerns.
The air quality board voted July 12 to restrict the popular beach fire pits to at least 700 feet from the nearest residences and at least 100 feet apart from the nearest pit – or 50 feet apart if there are 15 or fewer pits. The regulations are scheduled to take effect March 1, 2014.
Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey, which is not within close proximity to residences, will not be impacted by the distance regulations.
Air quality board staff had initially recommended that the fire rings be prohibited on all Los Angeles and Orange county beaches but dropped the proposal for a revised plan that would preserve the recreational activity that has been a tradition for many beachgoers.
The proposal came after the city of Newport Beach sought to remove a total of 60 of its fire rings from the beach near the Balboa Pier and on Corona del Mar State Beach due to concerns from residents living near the beaches about potential health impacts from having wood smoke in the air throughout the evening.
Barry Wallerstein, Air Quality Management District executive officer, said the issue evoked strong feelings from residents on all sides.
“We believe this plan will reduce exposure to harmful particulates at beaches and nearby communities while allowing beach fires to continue as a popular Southern California pastime,” Wallerstein said of the amended plan that was approved July 12.
With the new restrictions, all 60 of the fire rings in Newport Beach will have to be better dispersed and/or moved to another beach in the city. In addition, a few dozen fire rings at Huntington State Beach and other beaches will have to be dispersed at greater distances.
The board additionally approved a provision specifying that any future air quality district actions affecting beach fire pits would be voluntary and not regulatory in nature. It also approved an exemption for fire pits in areas specifically constructed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.