January 6, 2010. Tonight, the Ocean Beach Planning Board voted unanimously to “strenuously oppose” the removal of fire pits from Ocean Beach Park. The meeting, chaired by vice-chair Giovanni Ingolia, was held at the Recreation Center and started at 6pm.
Brought to the Board via an agenda item initiated by Board member and former chair, Landry Watson, the issue of the City’s planned removal of OB’s eight fire pits along with the remaining pits around San Diego – a total of 186 – was termed “a hot issue” by Watson.
This theme was echoed by those of us who spoke from the audience. During the public comment on this issue, I made a short presentation to the Board, citing that the City has removed nearly 60% of the 450 fire pits that San Diego had twenty years ago, that fire pits are an iconic symbol and tradition of the beach and San Diego in general, and that the money issue is really a subterfuge. I agreed with Watson’s analysis that fire pits fall under the Board’s jurisdiction as public recreational facilities.
I also explained our Adopt-A-Fire-Pit program as part of the “OB-way” – of citizens, groups and businesses stepping forward and pledging to clean and maintain OB’s fire pits for a year. I mentioned that as of right now, we have all 8 “adopted” but we are also lining up others to share it their maintenance. I ended by saying that we would appreciate a resolution from the Board opposing the removal of the fire pits.
Rick Callejon and Pat James also spoke from the audience supporting the idea of keeping the fire pits. Matt Awbray, Councilmember Faulconer’s representative, mentioned that the Councilman favors keeping the fire pits, and that he is “very receptive” to the idea of some kind of adopt program, and that he looks to local planning committees for guidance on community issues.
During the Board’s own discussion, a number of points and ideas emerged:
- ask the City for a cost estimate of maintaining OB’s 8 fire pits – then OB could do a fund raiser to collect monies to pay for their maintenance;
- there may need to be the formation of some kind of non-profit to actually take over the fire pits maintenance;
- that removal of the fire pits is a safety issue – that without the fire pits, people would still build beach fires, and people would be burned from walking on hot sand from the embers;
- removing fire pits was akin to removing volley ball courts;
Finally, Watson, District 2 Rep, made a motion that carried that the OB Planning Board strenuously opposed the removal of the fire pits from Ocean Beach Park. It carried unanimously.
At that point, I had to leave to catch a dead-line.
The Ocean Beach Planning Board holds monthly meetings at OB Rec Center and advises the City on planning issues involving OB, guided by the Precise Plan for OB. There are 7 Districts in OB and each has 2 representatives. The board is currently chaired by Brittany Taylor
The Board is holding its annual elections this March. There are several open seats, and several current members must renew their seats. The election will be held Tuesday, March 9th, and voting will occur at the Rec Center, located at the corner of Ebers and Santa Monica.
Anyone wishing to be a candidate must submit an application and required signatures by February 14th. Board by-laws require any person running as a candidate to attend at least one general meeting prior to the March general meeting, which is March 3rd. Which means, that any candidate for the Board who has never been at a meeting before, must attend the February meeting.
The Planning Board’s website is here – see the different districts and meeting times and agendas.