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Are San Diego beach bonfires to be extinguished?

by Max Allen

Beach bonfires outside of city-provided concrete rings could be banned on San Diego beaches such as Ocean Beach, Mission Bay, and La Jolla, after a recent proposal.

The San Diego City Council vote to take place in October would prohibit any portable fire pits/bowls, barbecue grills, and stoves that are fueled by wood or coal, but devices fueled by propane would still be allowed. Injuries from irresponsibly made fires, unclarity in city code, and environmental concerns influenced this push for the ban.

The chair of the San Diego City Council’s Environment Committee, Joe LaCava, initially proposed the change. Currently, the municipal code is vague and doesn’t clarify what “permissible fire devices” are, but LaCava wants to add more specifics. Air quality has been another concern brought into the discussion, because the more wood and coal fires people have on the beach, the more smoke fills the air. Additionally, people have been stepping in still hot embers and wood left from beach fires which are often buried under sand without being fully extinguished, which has become a health and safety issue.

Locals in different areas of San Diego have various opinions. According to a May article from “The Voice of San Diego”, one common concern is that there wouldn’t be enough fire rings to support the number of beachgoers. After a cut of 186 fire rings in 2008 due to high maintenance costs, this would limit beachgoers to the current amount of 150 permanent fire rings, with 32 temporary rings put out during summer. However, an article from notes the support of this proposed ban from residents in La Jolla, writing, “Residents in La Jolla Shores say that their beaches are especially crowded with illegal fires. While La Jolla Shores has 13 fire rings, they say the number of actual fires sometimes exceeds 40.”

Whether a critic of this ban or a supporter, after October of this year, how San Diegans use their beaches could undergo change. All bonfires and barbeques fueled by wood or coal outside of city-provided rings could be extinguished.


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