DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (KTLA) — A controversial decision on whether to regulate fire rings in Southern California was announced Friday after a months-long battle over the issue.
Board members for the South Coast Air Quality Management District decided in a 7-6 vote to approve the proposed regulations of fire rings.
“It does not jeopardize the existence or the use of the fire pits, and it is imperative that protecting the public health be a priority beyond being popular,” Josie Gonzales of the AQMD said.
Under those regulations, fire rings would have to be at least 700 feet from homes, so that pollutants steer clear of beachfront properties.
The regulations, which could take affect as early as March, would also give cities the power to ban beach fires altogether.
There are 765 fire rings along Los Angeles and Orange County beaches.
But some residents who live nearby or downwind have said the smoke and pollution are both a nuisance and a health hazard.
Those who favor keeping the fire rings have argued that they are a traditional part of the beach-going experience.
Tests have been done to determine how much pollution the fire rings create, compared to other major air pollutants.
The bonfires give off both smoke and fine particulate pollution, the tests showed.
However, whether that pollution was enough to restrict or ban the fire rings has remained a point of contention.