Should Beach Fire Pits Be Banned Because of Air Pollution?
Where does public safety override personal freedoms? Is the good of the many more valuable than your personal freedom? Take smoking in your home or apartment. Some cities and towns have local ordinances that take that right away because they think the majority rules and banning smoking in your own place or on a private patio is correct for it endangers others with second hand smoke. Many cities have banned smoking in public places and some designate the person must be a distance away. What about your personal rights to live as you want? Is government intrusion always valid? Shouldn't each person decide about issues like smoking? It was like that long ago. I mean, if a person wanted to smoke in his apartment they would without being in fear that a neighbor might rat on them. If a person wanted to light up in an restaurant, they did, even though that smoke floated across the tables. Back then, if it bothered you, you would ask the smoker to go outside or put it out. Usually, they did.
Today, we need laws to enforce what was done out of being polite. Crazy. Huntington Beach is south of LA and is a huge, panoramic beach that is visited by thousands daily. Now, the South Coast Air Quality Board, a governmental agency that protects the air in that area, wants to ban all use of the beach fire pits- all 857 of them in Orange and LA Counties. As usual, a few complaints from homeowners near the beach were received claiming that the wood fires in the pits posed a danger. These pits are used frequently at night for those wanting to party at the beach, roast smores or cook dinner. They are part of the beach custom and are an endearing item to beach goers.
Because of the complaint, another costly study had to be done. The findings showed that from one fire pit as much particulate pollution was found equal to a diesel truck driving 564 miles. Okay, but so what. The study failed to note that along the coast there is always a sea breeze or stronger and these particulates would be tossed wherever.
Some 600,000 people go to this beach annually and many like the bonfires at night for a variety of reasons. The stores near the beach all make money from selling fire wood and smores, a favorite of the fire pit. Many sell bonfire kits. Suffice to say, this may be one case where the State loses because so many irate residents have shown up at meetings all supporting fire pits. Yes, everyone knows that smoke from fires irritates your eyes, lungs, well, that is why you move when the smoke drifts to you-duh! One does not sit there pretending to enjoy it. People with respiratory problems already know not to be near smoke and if they do so, it is their freedom to do so.
The other issue not really addressed in the report was just how often are fire pits used and for how long? This number is so random it is impossible to forecast, thus impossible for the State to determine with any accuracy the real impact of using fire pits.
Suffice to say, the State Board in charge of this issue wished the issue had not even come up because now they must follow through on it in some manner. Sometimes, people should just grin and bear it. Their freedom is just as important as anyone else's.