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.
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).
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.
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).
The Coastal Commission transmitted a letter to the City requesting additional information and deeming the application incomplete.
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 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.
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.
November 14, 2012
The City sent a letter to the Coastal Commission to forward correspondence that was submitted during the City Council hearing process.
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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-644-3297.