Huntington Beach and Newport Beach officials debated over the fate of their local beachfront fire pits last Thursday in a meeting with the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The neighboring beach cities differ in their opinion of the six-decade-old fire pits with concerns ranging from wealth to health.
Huntington Beach supports the motion to keep the fire pits as the cities chamber of commerce reports collecting nearly 1 million dollars in parking revenue annually.
Newport Beach officials want to remove 33 fire pits near the Balboa Pier and another 27 fire pits in Corona del Mar. The motion to remove the fire pits came after complaints from Newport beachfront residents mentioning smoke and health concerns.
The Air Quality Management District (AQMD) supports this motion, as representative Sam Atwood states, “We’re concerned with the public health effects of the smoke from these fires.”
Huntington Beach residents disagree saying, “Keep your mitts off our pits”.
Colleen Kearfott, a Newport Beach resident disagrees with the cities plan to remove the pits. “I am an owner here and enjoy the fire pits that are literally right outside my home. I will be very upset when they remove them and hope that they don’t. I have lived here for over three years and do not have one complaint to make.”
Anastasia Oddo, a senior at nearby Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, uses the fire pits regularly. “I think the fire pits are half the fun of going to the beach. Where else in Orange County can you sit around a roaring fire, roast marshmallows and bond with family and friends?”
When questioned about her concern for air quality and related health concerns Oddo adds, “The impact of not having them [fire pits] outweighs the potential air quality benefits.”
The homes in Newport Beach are closer in proximity to the fire pits than the homes in Huntington Beach. Residents say that removal of the pits in Newport alone may be the best choice in the debate between Huntington’s wealth and Newport’s health.
The AQMD board will settle this heated debate May 3, which means the summer of 2013 could possibly be the last for local beach fire pits.