Fire Rings & Beach Quick Facts:
What Can Be Burned in the Fire Rings
If you want to burn wood in the beach fire rings, you may do so at specific locations. There are rings to the east side of the Balboa Pier (next to Peninsula Park) that can accommodate wood. The rings to the west side of the main Balboa Pier parking lot (painted in green) that are for charcoal only. At Corona del Mar State Beach, you can burn wood in the rings closest to the ocean – the ones that are spaced more widely. The green fire rings that are closest to the grass near the palm trees are for charcoal only.
Please respect the division of these rings to help us comply with air quality laws.
Do not burn wood in the green fire rings. The green fire rings are for charcoal burning only. However, you may burn clean wood and charcoal in the standard concrete fire rings. Do not burn anything outside of a fire ring – this is dangerous to you and to other beach visitors!
If you bring wood, please only burn natural firewood or lumber that is not contaminated with nails, plastics, paint, staples or other materials that can be toxic to the air (and to you) or harmful if it remains in the rings. Do not burn furniture, trash, or anything other than wood or charcoal (or the occasional s’mores that falls off the stick). Using newspaper to start your fire is okay. Again, thank you for helping us comply with air quality laws.
The fire rings are available on a first come, first served basis. You can use the fire rings during normal beach hours from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., daily. No portable BBQs, fire pits or similar items may be used on the beach or in the parking lot.
If you have any questions about these rules, please email us at email@example.com.
A Brief History of the Issue
In 2012 and 2013, the City pursued removal of the area's 60 wood-burning rings (33 near the Balboa Pier area and 27 at Corona del Mar State Beach) by asking the California Coastal Commission (Commission) to permit their removal. The Coastal Commission did not act, but its staff (prior to and at the Commission's public hearing) expressed strong concern with any removal of wood-burning rings. Instead, at the Commission’s hearing, a Commissioner asked to wait for action until the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) weighed in. After completing air quality studies and holding public meetings, AQMD adopted a new rule (Rule 444) in July 2013 that said (generally) by March 1, 2014:
Wherever wood-burning rings are within 700’ of residences:
- If a community has more than 15 wood-burning rings, the rings must be spaced at least 100’ from each other; and
- Wood can’t be burned during regionwide “no burn” days (these typically occur in the wintertime); and
- The distancing requirements do not apply to rings where charcoal or liquid or gaseous fuels are burned instead of wood, or to rings made available for disabled access.
All of Newport Beach’s 60 fire rings were within 700’ of residences, and most were spaced about 30-40’ from each other. To comply with AQMD's Rule 444, Newport Beach took measures to properly space the rings at least 100' from each other.
There is only one small location (at Big Corona at the oceanward corner of the East Jetty entrance to Newport Harbor) where the beach is beyond 700’ of residences.
Recent Changes - and What's Next
On January 13, 2015, the City Council authorized immediate wood burning in up to 30 rings if they were spaced properly. Additionally, the City Council asked City staff to submit a 60-ring, wood-burning plan to the Coastal Commission, provided that the plan complied with the 100' spacing requirements of AQMD’s Rule 444. The spacing was completed in late January, and AQMD says that the Interim Plan now complies with Rule 444.
We also submitted a number of other plans to the Commission, as a part of our due diligence. Those plans have been removed from the website, but are available on request.
As a part of our Plan 17, we submitted other things as well:
- A management plan
- A maintenance plan
- A signage plan
- A request to retroactively approve the Interim Plan
- A request to approve the placement of four, previously-unpermitted fire rings at the Newport Dunes (this would mean that the Dunes would keep its four existing rings but also have four rings that once were on ocean beaches, for a total of eight rings).
- A request to retroactively approve a beach pathway at the east side of the Balboa Pier that apparently never received permits from the Commission.
Communicating Your Thoughts
If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts on fire rings, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave Kiff, City Manager