Bid to save beach bonfires advances in CA legislature

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Bid to save beach bonfires advances in CA legislature

Postby Wilberforce » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:31 pm

Bid to save beach bonfires advances in California legislature

By Jennifer Chaussee

SACRAMENTO Calif. Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:08am IST

(Reuters) - As rising temperatures send thousands to Southern California's storied beaches, lawmakers are rushing to make sure a classic rite of summer, the beach bonfire, doesn't burn out before they get there.

Under a new anti-pollution measure adopted last year by regional air quality regulators, fire rings on beaches near houses or in places with poor air quality would have to be removed.

The order by the South Coast Air Quality Management District prompted outrage from across the political spectrum in the coastal state, with Republicans railing that unelected bureaucrats were destroying the California way of life and Democrats complaining that removing the fire rings would eliminate an inexpensive summer ritual important to California's culture.

Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen, a surfer whose district south of Los Angeles includes several beach communities, contends the move to ban bonfires grew out of efforts by wealthy Orange County residents to make the beach near their homes less attractive to party-goers, rather than a genuine concern for the environment.

"This started out as a very simple issue where there was a small group of wealthy home owners and they were trying to keep inlanders off their beach," Allen said. "People who perhaps can't afford multi-million dollar homes."

His bill, which gives the California Coastal Commission authority over fire pits, unanimously passed a state senate committee on Tuesday.

One of the few Republican-backed measures to make it through either house of the Democratic-controlled legislature this session, the bill passed the Assembly in January and will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"The traditions of the fire rings are very important to Californians," said Doug Swardstrom, a spokesman for Friends of the Fire Rings. "It has become part of our heritage and part of our culture in Southern California."

The Air Quality Management District order said beach bonfires send harmful particulates into the air and should be removed if they are within 700 feet (213 meters) of homes. The agency also said fire pits should be removed from beaches that measure poorly on its air quality index.

"This wood smoke pollution is very toxic and contributes to lung disease, heart disease and premature death," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior policy director for the American Lung Association, which opposes efforts to save the fire pits. "This undermines the air district's authority to protect public health from this dangerous pollution."

(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Sandra Maler)

source ... 0J20140624

Bill to Keep Beach Fire Pits Moves Forward
The bill would require public agencies trying to remove a fire pit to apply for a coastal development grant
By Jeanne Kuang
| Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 | Updated 5:38 PM PDT

California lawmakers on Tuesday pushed forward a bill that would prevent the removal of dozens of beach bonfire rings in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.

Assembly Bill 1102 would require that city officials apply for permits that suggest how they would cut down on the smoke that comes from beach fire pits.

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Fire pits have been the center of debate for more than a year in some Southern California beach communities. Supporters feel strongly about the fire pits, saying it's a big part of the Southern California lifestyle. Opponents say they are big sources of pollution on the coast.

"Beach bonfires are an activity enjoyed by people from all across California, including those who cannot afford multi-million dollar beachfront homes," said Assemblyman Travis Allen, one of the main sponsors of the bill.

The bill has several steps before it could go to the Governor's desk, but Allen says, if passed, it will address both air quality concerns and people's ability to enjoy a Southern California staple.

Read: Bill to Preserve California's Beach Bonfires Advances to Assembly

A rule already put into play this year requires all fire pits Southern California beach communities to be 700 feet away from residences and 100 apart.

Supporters who've created a website called Save the Fire Rings, say that beach bonfire rings have been an important part of the culture for over 60 years.

But opponents, including SCAQMD and the American Lung Association, say the public should not be exposed to wood smoke, which they say contains the same toxic chemicals as cigarette smoke.

Sam Atwood, a spokesman for SCAQMD, said some cities, instead of moving the rings as the air quality board required, have opted to require beach goers to use less-toxic charcoal pits, which has sparked more criticism.

source ... 90101.html ... 65211.html
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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