SACRAMENTO – Calling beach bonfires synonymous with Orange County, area lawmakers introduced legislation this week to block a controversial ban on fire rings.
Assembly Bill 1102 by Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, would specifically forbid the South Coast Air Quality Management District from prohibiting beach bonfires. On July 12, the district’s board narrowly voted to move or remove fire pits located within 700 feet of homes.
The district’s ban does not go into effect until March 1. AB 1102, if approved by the Legislature, is intended to take effect before March, pre-empting the district’s ban.
“This bipartisan legislation will stop the SCAQMD’s attempts to ban beach bonfires on certain California beaches,” Allen said in a prepared statement. “It’s important that we work together to protect this historic, safe and inexpensive family recreational activity on our beaches,” he said, adding, “Beach bonfires are an activity enjoyed by people from all across California, including those who cannot afford multimillion-dollar beachfront homes.”
The district approved the ban after months of debate regarding the impact of fire pits on air quality.
“It would be hard to imagine the Orange County Coast without fire rings on the beach,” Quirk-Silva said in a prepared statement. “While I sympathize with the need to reduce pollution in Orange County, there are several more effective solutions available to us without taking away not only fun and tradition, but also needed revenue for our coastal parks.”
Seven other Republican lawmakers have signed on as co-authors of AB 1102, including four who represent parts of Orange County: Assemblymen Allan Mansoor of Costa Mesa and Curt Hagman of Chino Hills, and Sens. Mimi Walters of Irvine and Mark Wyland of Oceanside.
A representative of the South Coast Air Quality Management District was not immediately available for comment.