HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) — Those popular fire pits on the sand on many Southern California beaches may soon be a thing of the past.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District is considering a ban on the fire rings, as two Orange County cities square off over the issue.
Huntington Beach officials say that nearly 12 million people visit state parks in the county, and it generates about $19 million in revenue.
They argue that banning bonfires would cut that revenue in half.
Huntington Beach officials also say the city would lose $1 million in parking revenue alone.
But on the other side of the issue, the Newport Beach City Council says they want to ban the fire pits.
They say that residents along the strand are complaining about the pollution, the smell and some of the rowdy visitors that the bonfires bring.
But other residents are sounding off against the ban.
Thousands of residents of both Huntington and Newport have signed a petition online saying they want to keep the bonfires.
They say the fire rings are a California tradition, and they’re a big part of why people come to visit the beaches.
Air quality regulators seem to be backing Newport Beach. One board member says all bonfires should be banned from L.A. to Orange County beaches.
However, no numbers have been given as to the exact impact of the pollution, and that’s what the California Coastal Commission wants to hear.
Both sides will present their arguments at a hearing Thursday morning at the AQMD headquarters in Diamond Bar. A decision could come as early as May 3.