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Newport Beach fire pits: conflicting agency votes anticipated

Beachgoers sit around a fire pit in this undated file photo.

July 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new twist in the Newport Beach fire pit fight: Newport Beach withdrew an application to remove five-dozen fire rings from its beaches.

The California Coastal Commission was scheduled to vote on the application July 11, and a staff report recommended denying the application.

However, the South Coast Air Quality Management District has its own vote scheduled a day later and its staff has recommended regulations that would prohibit the fire rings within 700 feet of homes, including all 50 of the pits Newport Beach wanted to remove.

The Newport Beach city manager has said the application was withdrawn because of the back-to-back votes that could render the Coastal Commission's decision pointless a day after it is made.

Newport Beach residents have sought to ban the pits, saying the smoke drifts over and pollutes their homes. But neighboring cities, primarily Huntington Beach, want to preserve them to preserve traditions and tourist dollars.

The issue has brought national attention and statewide debate. The California Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution in May supporting the fire rings as a "time-honored" and "important beach attraction." Orange County supervisors delivered a similar resolution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.