The group of lawmakers, local leaders and residents were demonstrating against the Air Quality Management District's proposal to ban all beach fire pits. The AQMD has cited air quality and residents' health as concerns.
The Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce says Huntington Beach would lose $1 million in revenue from beach parking and the purchase of bonfire supplies. They say it would also put an end to a tradition of beach culture. The fire pits have been around for more than 60 years. The city has about 200 of them.
"We want to make sure that we keep our beach bonfires," said Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who was at the rally. "This is our Southern California way of life and right now the AQMD is trying to take them away. They're trying to say that beach bonfires pollute the environment and they pollute the air. We think that's pretty laughable."
Officials in Huntington Beach's neighbor to the south, Newport Beach, voted to remove all 60 of its fire pits, pending approval from the state because the pits are on state property.
Orange County supervisors unanimously approved a resolution recently to oppose a proposed ban on open fire pits at beaches.
Air quality officials aren't expected to vote on the ban until June. If it's approved, the ban will affect beaches across Orange County and some beaches in Los Angeles County. The AQMD has a public hearing set for May 3.