Newport Beach has concrete fire rings on the beach in two areas: there are 27 fire rings located on Corona del Mar State Beach and 33 fire rings located near the Balboa Pier. Some of the fire rings are located on state property (Corona del Mar), and all of the fire rings are located in the coastal zone. The fire rings are appreciated by many who visit, but also result in extensive and often daily wood smoke released in adjacent residential areas. While many beachgoers come to the beach to enjoy a beach bonfire, others come to the beach for volleyball and other activities, expecting the beach to be smoke-free.
July 12, 1013
On this date, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) approved an amendment to Rule 444 – Open Burning on July 12th. Under the measure, beach bonfires will continue to be allowed in Los Angeles and Orange Counties as long as a city has not made a determination based on state law that smoke from fire pits poses a nuisance.
In addition, effective March 1, 2014, fire pits can remain if:
- They are located at least 700 feet from the nearest residence; OR
- They are at least 100 feet apart (If a city has 15 or fewer fire pits, they must be separated by at least 50 feet) and
- Air quality for fine particulates (PM2.5) in coastal areas is not forecast to exceed 100 on the Air Quality Index. (This is expected to occur infrequently under special meteorological conditions.)
The SACAQMD’s website and information related to the fire rings is available here: http://aqmd.gov/news1/2013/Fire_Pit_Board_Decision.htm
The City of Newport Beach continues to evaluate its options to ensure compliance with the regulations.
July 2, 2013
The City withdrew its application to the California Coastal Commission requesting a Coastal Development Permit to remove the fire rings. The Coastal Commission was scheduled to consider the item at its July 11th meeting and could not delay its decision due to provisions of the Permit Streamlining Act. Because the action of the SCAQMD was not yet known, the City found no choice but to withdraw. The City Manager’s request to withdraw the application can be downloaded here
May 15, 2013
The Air Quality Management District (AQMD) conducted air quality monitoring studies to determine the air quality impacts of recreational beach fires. The monitoring that has occurred to date took place in March and April in mulitiple cities that have beach fire rings. On May 15, AQMD representatives presented a preliminary assessment of the findings during a meeting of Orange County Mayors. AQMD presentation
February 15, 2013
The City received correspondence from the Coastal Commission confirming the Coastal Development Permit application is scheduled for a public hearing on March 6, 2013 at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego. The notice prepared by the Coastal Commission may be found here. The related staff report prepared by the Coastal Commission's office can be found here.
November 27, 2012
The City received a letter from the Coastal Commission confirming the Coastal Development Permit application has been filed and is tentatively scheduled for a public hearing on or between March 6-8, 2013 in San Diego County.
November 14, 2012
The City sent a letter to the Coastal Commission to forward correspondence that was submitted during the City Council hearing process.
October 19, 2012
The City responded to the Coastal Commission's second incomplete letter with additional information. View the letter and attachments here. If the Coastal Commission determines the application is complete with the additional information submitted, it is anticipated that a public hearing will take place in February 2013. During the Coastal Commission review, the fire rings will remain in place.
The Coastal Commission submitted a second “Notice of Incomplete Application” to the City on September 13, 2012. The letter requests additional documentation to support the claim that there are air quality impacts associated with wood smoke from fire rings, estimated use of the fire rings, demonstration that the City has the authority to remove the fire rings at Corona del Mar State Beach, and detailed history of the location and quantity of fire rings since they were established in the 1940s.
City staff is compiling additional information to respond to the Coastal Commission’s September 2012 letter. Once the application is deemed complete, a public hearing can be scheduled. With the desire to conduct the hearing locally, potential public hearing dates would be in either November 2012 or February 2013.
On August 10, 2012, the City responded to the Coastal Commission's incomplete letter with additional information:
It is anticipated that processing of the Coastal Development Permit will take 6 to 12 months. During the Coastal Commission process, which could take several months, the fire rings will remain in place.
The Coastal Commission transmitted a letter to the City requesting additional information and deeming the application incomplete.
The City is moving forward with its efforts to remove the fire rings and submitted a permit application to the California Coastal Commission (click here to view the justification submitted with the application).
March 13, 2012
The PB&R commission’s recommendation for removal of all fire rings was brought before the Newport Beach City Council for consideration. Approximately 30 citizens individually addressed the Council. Approximately two-thirds of those speakers were in favor of seeing the fire rings removed. They also referenced health and safety concerns, particularly the air quality hazards related to the smoke produced by fires burned in the rings. Approximately one third of the citizens present spoke in favor of retaining the fire rings, primarily citing the importance of having places for families and community groups to gather, barbecue and enjoy a campfire. The City Council voted 7-0 in favor of upholding the PB&R Commission’s recommendation and directing City staff to take the necessary steps to remove the sixty (60) fire rings at Big Corona and the Balboa Pier areas. To view the City Council staff report, please click here. Scroll to item #16, "Balboa and Corona del Mar Fire Rings" and select Staff Report.
February 7, 2012
The Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation (PB&R) Commission reviewed issues related to the City’s beach fire rings and examined options for remedying these concerns. After hearing public comment from residents and others concerned about the health impacts related to the burning of wood and other materials in the fire rings, the commission voted 4-3 to recommend that the City Council act to remove all beach fire rings located in Newport Beach (click here to view the agenda and meeting minutes).
For More Information
The City Council staff report (scroll to item #16) and the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission agenda and meeting minutes will provide background information on this issue and includes supporting materials. If you wish to share your opinion on this matter with the City Council, please e-mail CityCouncil@newportbeachca.gov or call 949-644-3005.
For information on the status of the Coastal Commission application, please email Brenda Wisneski, Deputy Community Director, at email@example.com or call 949-644-3297.