Just when you think you’ve seen it all from the Newport Beach City Council – check this out!
AQMD, City Staff Gather Around Beach Fire Ring to Test Charcoal
About a dozen Newport Beach staff members, along with City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner and representatives from the South Coast Air Quality Management District gathered Monday evening at a Big Corona fire ring — not just to make s’mores and hang out, but to test different brands of charcoal to see how they burned.
“It wasn’t actually a formal meeting,” said City Manager Dave Kiff in an email. “We wanted to experience several different types of charcoal in the fire rings, so we just went out and tried them.”
In January, the City Council voted 6-1 to limit beach fire ring fuel to charcoal, at least temporarily, in order to walk the narrow line of compliance with rules set by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Coastal Commission; read our story here. Meanwhile, a bill passed the state Assembly unanimously the same week that would require agencies to get a coastal development permit before removing rings. If that bill passes the Senate and becomes law, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2015.
At the beach on Monday, the city’s fire chief, recreation director and some park patrol officers all attended, Kiff said. City Councilman Keith Curry said in an email that he was invited but couldn’t make it.
When staff at the SCAQMD was told about the plans, about five representatives decided to join, Kiff said.
“They also had been having their own charcoal burning experiences at other beaches in the air district,” he said.
SCAQMD spokesmen did not return a phone call seeking information.
Gardner said she was at the beach for about 45 minutes of the 90-minute gathering.
“Several kinds put off a lot of heat, enough to keep people warm and to cook things,” Gardner said. “One kind which is soaked in lighter fluid even put off significant flames although the smell of the lighter fluid persisted.”
The group tried out about seven brands and types of charcoal, Kiff said, all locally available except for one they ordered online.
“Some were very good, others less so,” he said. “Our favorites were two types of ‘lump’ charcoal – Royal Oak and Cowboy. The flame, the heat, the duration, and the lack of smoke were pretty remarkable.”
“I would guess that what will come out of the evening will be some recommendations as to what type of charcoal will produce the best experience, where to buy it locally and at what price, (Community Development Director) Kim Brandt’s s’mores recipe, and more,” Kiff said.
The city likely won’t limit what kinds of charcoal can be used, he said.
At a nearby ring, a group of visitors was having a pre-Valentine’s Day ceremony in which they burned rolled-up loved letters from former boyfriends, burning the papers along with firewood, Kiff said.
“Those fires were releasing a lot of smoke,” he said.