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In the Pipeline: Something fishy going on with fire ring ban

April 04, 2013|By Chris Epting

The Air Quality Management District's (AQMD) heavy-handed approach of ceremoniously banning fire rings in Huntington Beach (and across Southern California) without providing any specific evidence certainly seems suspicious and even underhanded. But until I attended the "public consultation hearing" Thursday, I had no idea just how bad this all is.

Held at the AQMD offices in Diamond Bar (no, it doesn't seem like they will be coming to Huntington Beach to hear your concerns about the ban), several dozen people representing our city, from residents to Chamber of Commerce personnel to Marketing and Visitor's Bureau members, were in attendance to voice their views. On the HB side it was 100% against this draconian ban.

A handful of Newport Beach residents showed up, the majority of which wanted the bans. Don't forget, it's Newport that started all of this when several beachfront residents decided that they couldn't be bothered any longer by fire rings. But as much as Newport bares that blame, they needed a partner in crime and the AQMD seems to have become the perfect parasitic host.

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As Gail Holland just wrote in the Los Angeles Times, ("Fire ring opponents are blowing smoke") "The district staff cites the health of coastal residents and visitors exposed to fine-particulate pollutants. But those pollutants can come from many sources. What's really going on, it seems to me and others, is that a small contingent of wealthy residents don't want other people running around what they think of as their front yards."

I agree, Ms. Holland. This is about wealth, not health.

When I went to the microphone to address the nine-person AQMD panel, most of the salient points in this argument had already been made by previous speakers. HB city spokeswoman Laurie Frymire and Brian Ketterer, a park ranger and Orange Coast district superintendent along with many others were eloquent and firm as they sliced and diced the AQMD's power grab and clearly laid out how this would hurt the city. Ketterer in particular was majestic. Had this been a boxing match, the refs probably would've stepped in after he spoke.

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