In the Jan. 16 Huntington Beach Independent, Assembly candidate Emanuel Patrascu writes that it was Keith Curry and his fellow members on the Newport Beach City Council who brought the fire rings issue to the Air Quality Management District.
This is false. Councilman Curry, the Newport Beach council and the city never initiated any request for regulation or rule making by the AQMD.
Our position is, and always has been, that individual cities should decide for themselves how to manage fire rings.
Fire rings harm public health
Assembly candidate Emanuel Patrascu wrote recently about the fire ring controversy, "How did the AQMD become involved in the first place?" Then he proceeds to misrepresent the facts while politicizing a serious matter of public health.
Newport Beach brought the issue of the fire rings to the California Coastal Commission when the city applied for a coastal development permit.
When commission staff recommended denying the permit, the South Coast Air Quality Management District jumped in. The AQMD didn't want the outdated exemption of beach bonfires to be used to justify denial. Its members know that wood smoke is harmful to health.
At the Coastal Commission hearing on March 6, the state agency voted to refer the matter to the AQMD, so as not to pit public access against public health.
The Coastal Commission made a wise choice.
During a long, contentious public hearing process, the AQMD released studies showing the harm of particulate emissions from a single beach fire ring.
This isn't a matter of an out-of-control regional agency, as some in Huntington Beach keep ranting. The World Health Organization's cancer agency recently added particulate matter to the Group 1 list of known carcinogens. Add similar findings of the surgeon general and the American Cancer Society and we can see that the evidence is mounting — wood smoke is bad for public health.
Petrascu should investigate this more thoroughly. Public health is at stake. We cannot afford ill-informed elected officials.