Before a packed auditorium Friday afternoon, air quality regulators adopted divisive regulations on beach fire rings.
In what could be the end of an extensive debate that pitted concerns about wood smoke's health impacts against a beloved Southern California tradition, members of the South Coast Air Quality Management District voted 7 to 6 to approve a rule that will place new restrictions on the use of beach fire rings.
The rule is a softened version of an initial proposal that would have banned beach bonfires outright within the South Coast Air Quality Management District's jurisdiction, which includes all of Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Instead, the rule establishes a 700-foot buffer zone between bonfires and homes and "no-burn days" when air quality is poorer than usual, and gives cities more explicit authority to decide on a local level whether they allow fire rings within their limits. In an amendment added after the proposal was first released last month, the rule also included a paragraph that directs staff to avoid further restricting fire rings in the future.