The City of Newport Beach’s fire ring removal application is complete, and a public hearing will be scheduled, a California Coastal Commission analyst confirmed in a telephone interview today.
“Yesterday we sent a letter to the City of Newport Beach advising them that their application was complete,” said Jeffrey Rabin, a Coastal Commission staff analyst. The letter was part of a package that included three notices of pending permits that must be posted in conspicuous locations at Big Corona and the Balboa Pier, where the city’s 60 beach fire rings are located.
A copy of the letter to the city was posted on the Newport Beach website on Thursday; click here to see.
Newport Beach City Council members voted in March to remove the beach fire rings, including 27 rings at Big Corona State Beach. The city submitted a permit application to the Coastal Commission in May, but the Coastal Commission staff twice deemed it incomplete and requested additional information.
City officials had been hopeful a Coastal Commission hearing would be held in February, when the meeting would be held in Orange County or Los Angeles. However, Rabin said the earliest hearing would be at the Commission’s March meeting in San Diego County.
“It’s mostly a workload issue at this point,” he said.
The hearing must be held within 180 days of the application being deemed complete, he said.
The issue of removing the city’s beach fire rings came up in 2009 but was tabled as budget issues became an increasing concern in the city. In September 2011, then-Councilwoman Nancy Gardner asked that the issue be studied after a lawsuit was filed against Huntington Beach when a child was injured at a fire ring there. In February, the City’s Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission voted 4-3 to recommend that the Council remove the rings, and the Council voted unanimously in March to remove them.
The City’s application to the Coastal Commission focused on the dangers of breathing wood smoke, as well as the benefits of creating more recreational space in the place of the rings, which are used mostly at night. According to city letters sent to the Coastal Commission, Big Corona State Beach’s rings could be replaced with more volleyball nets, a play structure and more open sand space.
Read our earlier stories here, here, here, here, here and here.