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Corona del Mar Today: Fire ring application is 'incomplete'

September 08, 2012|By Amy Senk, Corona del Mar Today
  • Kianoush Hamadani, center right, of Irvine, helps his son Cameron, over a bonfire in celebration of the Persian New Year in March.
Kianoush Hamadani, center right, of Irvine, helps his… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Newport Beach may have to take a third stab at its application to remove 60 beach fire rings, a California Coastal Commission staff member said.

"Their application remains incomplete," Coastal Commission Coastal Programs Analyst Jeffrey Rabin said in a telephone interview. "Until we have all the information, we feel is necessary to evaluate the impact, we can't take it to the commission. We're not there yet."

The Newport Beach City Council voted in March to remove the beach fire rings, and the city sent its original application to the commission in May. The commission in June asked for more information.

Rabin said he received the city's resubmission about two weeks ago, but he's been busy with other projects so he's given the new information only a cursory look.

But even that quick look, he said, showed information lacking on air quality studies.

A major initial concern, he said, was that the city's resubmission letter stated that conducting an air quality study was "not feasible."

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"We're going to have to pursue that," he said.

He also questioned the city's reliance on the South Coast Air Quality Management District's Rule 445, which was adopted in 2008 and banned wood-burning fireplaces in new developments. That rule specifically exempts beach bonfires.

Discussions of Newport Beach bonfires dates back to the 1940s, according to a review of archived council meeting minutes.

In 1942, the United States was at war, and the council passed ordinances that banned all open fires "between the hours of one hour before sunset and one hour after sunrise on any given day," according to Ordinance 513, which passed in April 1942. Violators would be fined up to $300 and could face three months' jail time, the ordinance said.

The war ended in 1945, and apparently beach fires had reappeared. By August 1946, a city councilman "brought the matter of controlling bonfires on the Corona del Mar beach and suggested that locations for such be restricted to within 30 feet of the East Jetty wall and nearer inshore."

By 1949, the council had adopted an ordinance outlining six campfire areas, and some residents signed a petition asking for a seventh location to be added, archived records indicate.

None of the campfire areas was in Corona del Mar until 1950, when an ordinance created an eighth area between the East Jetty and Iris Avenue, city records show.

The addition of the Corona del Mar campfire area was described as urgent.

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