The fire ring debate is a controversial issue in Newport Beach, and depending on the outcome it may also affect Persian traditions during Nowruz, or the Persian New Year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Every spring hundreds of Persians gather around the fire rings at Big Corona State Beach the night before Nowruz. Many jump over a burning fire ring, a ritual brought from Iran, as a cleansing rite. According to the newspaper's report, Persians believe the flames will sweep away anything unpleasant from the past year and give them a healthy, new start.
The fire rings have been a hot topic in Newport Beach for quite some time.
Earlier this month the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to postpone a decision on Newport Beach's request to remove the city's 60 beach fire rings. The fire ring issue is now in the hands of the South Coast Air Quality Management District who will meet on March 28 to discuss a ban on the fire rings at beaches in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Newport Beach officials said its 27 fire rings at Big Corona Beach and the 33 near the Balboa Pier present health and fire risks to nearby residents, as well as safety risks to beachgoers and residents who could be burned by hot ash from improperly extinguished fires.
Fire-ring supporters say the bonfires provide the community with opportunities to make memories and enjoy the beach lifestyle. Coastal Commission staff maintain removing the fire rings would deny public access to a popular form of lower cost public recreation that has lasted generations.
Mahdi Rasoli, 50, told the Los Angeles Times he is concerned the fire ring tradition during Nowruz will become a distant memory.
"It would be disappointing for us not to be able to come and have this celebration," Rasoli said.
Read the full Los Angeles Times report on Persian fire ring tradition.