The City Council listened to flaring opinions from residents Tuesday night on both sides of the controversial fire ring issue, but in the end voted unanimously to remove the 60 fire rings. Today an online petition surfaced on change.org asking fire ring supporters to send appeal requests to the California Coastal Commission.
The City Council decided the fate of the concrete fire rings -- which include 27 at Big Corona Beach and 33 near the Balboa Pier -- f. According to staff reports, the 60 fire rings present health impacts to residents who live nearby, pose fire threats and safety threats to beachgoers and residents who are subjected to hot ash from the fire rings when they are not doused.
While there was no discussion among the council prior to the vote several residents, including Nancy French, addressed the council to make sure their concerns were voiced before the decision was made.
"There's a lot to do at the beach but it doesn't have to be fire related," French said. "There is also a fiscal responsibility with potential lawsuits to consider."
Resident John Hamilton also spoke against the fire pits, saying residents are sometimes unable to breathe fresh air.
"You have a choice of what you eat and what you drink, but not what you breathe," Hamilton said.
Supporters of the fire rings -- which date back to the 1960s-- also spoke at the meeting asking the City Council to preserve the memories that many create at the beach while others made safety suggestions. The online petition created Wednesday by resident David Ruiz is requesting residents to send in written appeals and phone calls to the California Coastal Commission.
"Help support this petition to stop the City Council from removing all of Newport Beach's and CDM's fire pits, Ruiz wrote. "These fire pits serve as a fun, safe activity for families and people of all ages to go to and enjoy the warm nights in Southern California."
For months dozens of residents on both sides of the issue have voiced their opinions at city meetings, via email to city officials and on the Save the Big Corona Fire Pits! Facebook page.
Officials said a permit from the California Coastal Commission must be obtained before the fire rings can be removed. Do you agree with the City Council's decision? Tell us in the comments.