2013 April 30: CA Huntington Beach: Email to end fire pit wood smoke pollution

Dear Wood Smoke Activists,


Please help us stop wood burning in over 800 beach fire pits!!


We need you to email the Governing Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).


They’ll vote on June 7th on proposed regulations to prohibit open (wood) burning in fire pits on beaches. There are over 800 fire pits in the region. Within 500 feet of my home, 27 fire pits burn year round with toxic smoke affecting my family, the community, and visitors to the area. Imagine the effect of 800 bonfires burning!


Some general ideas of what to say – please tailor to suit your style:


AQMD has a mission to protect public health. They are responsible to vote based on scientific evidence that wood smoke is harmful to human health, even for short-term exposures.


The time has come to end public wood burning to protect the health of everyone who lives, works and visits Southern California.


Public beaches should be smoke-free for all to enjoy. Recreation should not include toxic compounds of wood smoke being forced upon unwilling or unknowing beachgoers and residents.


SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for one of the smoggiest regions in the US. Bonfires simply don’t belong in densely populated communities. They are an unnecessary public health risk, with serious health concerns for residents while adding to air pollution and unhealthy particulates for all.


The AQMD was created because the disjointed efforts of many cities failed to improve air quality for the region. That hasn’t changed. If left to local elected officials, health will likely take a back-seat to popularity and revenues.


Please protect everyone in the region. Make a decision based on the scientific evidence and not politics.


A little background:


After many years, local activists convinced the City of Newport Beach that 60 wood burning beach fire pits must go due to health effects of wood smoke. In March 2012, the City voted unanimously to remove the pits.


The matter then went to the California Coastal Commission – it has jurisdiction over a permit to remove the pits – and in early 2013 their staff recommended denying the City’s request because they consider fire pits a low-cost public amenity.


Shortly before the Coastal Commission public hearing, the AQMD became aware of the matter and considered a rule change. The Coastal Commission postponed their vote until the AQMD could advise on smoke/health concerns.


The AQMD issued a preliminary staff report in March 2013 proposing a change in their rules to ban wood burning on all beaches in the District – about 800 fire pits would be affected, because of concerns of particulates from wood smoke.


At the AQMD hearing in March, the City of Huntington Beach, home to about 400 fire pits, fiercely objected to the rule change and the AQMD decided to postpone their vote by one month. Huntington Beach claimed a potential loss of $1 million parking revenues if the pits are removed.


The AQMD will vote on June 7th.  Meanwhile, the City of Huntington Beach and others who want to keep the fire pits appealed to local elected officials. The result was a political firestorm with some elected officials even calling wood burning fire pits a “sacred” part of “our American fabric” that conjures memories of first kisses and apple pie. Others have urged local control, saying the AQMD should stay out of it and let each City decide.


The AQMD continues to investigate, doing local air quality monitoring in both Newport and Huntington Beach; they have not yet released their report.


For more information visit www.woodsmokehealth.org.


If the AQMD bans open beach burning, it sets a precedent for other agencies. Please help – your email could save someone’s life!  Thank you.


Who to email:


Dr. William Burke, Chair, sarahfairweather@aol.com

Dennis Yates, Vice Chair,  Dyates1329@aol.com

Michael D. Antonovich, dmendelsohn@lacbos.org

Ben Benoit, berger@wrcog.cog.ca.us

John Benoit, mafelix@rcbos.org

Michael Cacciotti, macacciotti@yahoo.com

Josie Gonzales, Andrew.silva@cao.sbcounty.gov

Joseph K. Lyou, joe@ccair.org

Judith Mitchell, judyM@ci.Rolling-Hills-Estates.ca.us

Shawn Nelson, Shawn.Nelson@ocgov.com

Dr. Clark E. Parker, Sr., clarkeparker@aqmd.gov

Jan Perry, dcano@lacity.org

Miguel Pulido, mpulido@santa-ana.org

Saundra McDaniel, Clerk of the Boards, cob@aqmd.gov


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