HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A large group of people in Huntington Beach Sunday protested a proposed ban on beach bonfires.
A state agency charged with air control, wants to rid the fire pits along the coast.
CBS2's Art Barron was at the protest and spoke to many who call the bonfires a California way of life and a tradition.
Barron reported opponents of the ban collected as many as 30,000 signatures.
There are an estimated 800 fire rings on beaches around LA and Orange County. Beachgoers have enjoyed bonfires for decades – remember the "Beach Blanket Bingo" movies.
"We come out here to have a party, a barbecue, just food, big family day. It's the beach. It's what you do at the beach. Have fun," says Andrew Miner.
But the Air Quality Management District [AQMD] is hoping to wipe the bonfires out.
Said another beachgoer, "But why take them away? How many more rules do we need?"
AQMD Sam Atwood says there's an elevated level of particulate pollution levels in residential areas – the bonfires, fire pits, fireplaces likely culprits.
"I think we have to work together," says resident Cathy Keller, "and consider how this rule will impact the masses. I understand why people complain, but I think there's a way to resolve their issue."
Assemblyman Travis Allen threw today's rally to celebrate the California beach lifestyle.
He told Barron the reasoning was simple. "To gather community support, the support of all, to say beach fire rings are a part of the lifestyle. Beach bonfires. We all grew up with them, remember them. And we will fight to keep them."
The Board of Supervisors opposes the ban. They want regulations left in the hands of municipal governments. AQMD's Atwood told Barron that option might work – for now. They are continuing their open burn investigation. They plan to have a hearing and a ruling by June 7th.
Assemblyman Allen added, "This is not a local city issue … even the beaches in Newport. Those are not city beaches, they're state beaches. They belong to all citizens of California."
Allen vowed if the ban passes to take the issue to court or try to put it up for a vote.
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