BREAKING NEWS: OB Planning Board Opposes Removal of Fire Pits

by on January 6, 2010 · 34 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Ocean Beach, San Diego

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.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Gilbert January 7, 2010 at 12:38 am

Thanks Frank, You Rawck for doing things the “OB-way” ;)


bodysurferbob January 7, 2010 at 8:43 am

thank you ob planning committee. the community also will thank you in the days, weeks, and years to come as our residents realize what a loss the fire pits would be if removed. you took a courageous but popular stand. neptune and all the gods and goddesses of the sea and of the surf also bless you.


Dave Gilbert January 7, 2010 at 11:57 am

Hey Bob, don’t forget about Hephaestus, the God of fire. ;)


bodysurferbob January 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

And Dave, don’t forget the fifth element.


Dave Gilbert January 7, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I only remembered the 4 basic elements. Fire, Earth, Air & Water, you know, the ones that God gave man dominion over (see Genesis 1:26 )

I hadn’t thought of labeling Aether or Space as one too, very cool Bob!


Frank Gormlie January 8, 2010 at 8:08 am

Dave – the fifth element is L-O-V-E, without which humanity would be in dire shape.


Patty Jones January 8, 2010 at 8:30 am

And then, SHE gave women dominion over men!
But most of us prefer to coexist.


Sunshine January 8, 2010 at 9:29 am

Nicely stated, Patty, nicely stated. Gotta love us Uppity Women! I’ve heard stated that ‘in the end, love is all that remains.’ Works for me.


Dave Gilbert January 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

I never saw that movie Frank so I’m not hep to the jive, but Patty I’d say that since we are all God, sexual orientation is inconsequential .

L-O-V-E Frank? I think you’ve been listening to too many Beatles records. No wait, I keep forgetting, God is love too. Yeah Yeah Yeah! ;)


jim g January 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Nice update Thank You. Sorry I could not make it. However it sounds like all went well.


claudia j January 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Frank, Good Job…. Amazing I don’t think people realize how great Fire Rings are….When I was a little girl my family would go to the beach & roast Hot Dogs on coat hangers and then wipe them clean and then do my favorite Smores….. We would gather with 4 or 5 families & all sit around the fire & sing and relax…. It was such a great beach thing to do…..Since Hodad’s & I adoped #2 we can’t wait to start are Fire Pit project……. We could start a new Fire Pits Fan Club ?????? Wanta Join???? claudia


Frank Gormlie January 8, 2010 at 6:11 am

Sign me up, Claudia! … and at least half of the OB Rag staff!


ClubStyle_DJ January 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm



Frank Gormlie January 8, 2010 at 8:07 am

The “multi-pass” segment of the movie Fifth Element is one of the funniest scenes in cinematic history.


jim g January 8, 2010 at 8:44 am

SO FUNNY the FIRE PIT CREW …my buddies at South Beach suggested the same thing…..A fire Pit T shirt with a snappy slogan on it ….


Sunshine January 8, 2010 at 9:27 am

I can’t resist a t-shirt slogan opportunity here…

How about “OB Pits, a Labor of Love” or “Proud to be in the Pits of OB”

much too early for creative endeavors…..I’ll enjoy some MM and get back to you on this later.


Frank Gormlie January 8, 2010 at 3:23 pm

More fire pit T-shirts: “Fire Pits – a Hot Issue”, or “Fire Pits – they’re toast!” or “First Booze, then smokes, now fire pits – All Gone!” or “No Booze, No Pits, No Service” or the ever popular “Got Fire Pits?” or falling back on other faves “I stop for fire pits” or “Caution – I brake for fire pits” or this one with political connotations “No fire pits? No votes!”


ClubSytle_DJ January 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I like “No Booze, No Pits, No Service” or “No Sir!”
or maybe
“Prometheus giveth” , “San Diego taketh away” (/w graphic of a lit fire pit)

BTW… Great reading about your presentation, Frank.

The NIMBYS might want to think about the uncontained fires that will (not might) will sprout up. Unless there will be a guards hired to watch from the pier to dog beach. I’m sure after a enriching afternoon of sniffing cups at the beach, our LEOs would love a 2nd shift chasing bonfire starters… logical thinking is soooo yesterday.
BTW will the illegal fire ticket more or less than the beach booze ticket?


The Great Unwashed January 9, 2010 at 11:39 am

“Losing the Pits would be the Pits”


Shawn Conrad January 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

How about “Look At Our Pits!”?


jon January 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm

“Show us your pits!”


Pat January 8, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Or “Show me your pits”


jon January 8, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Great (dirty) minds think alike Pat. lol.


Pat January 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

You got me by a couple minutes. It’s been a long week, and you’ve got a young dirty mind . I think its time for a pit stop!
Have a great OB weekend.


Frank Gormlie January 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Here’s local Reader stringer Shane Finneran giving us some props:


Sunshine January 10, 2010 at 9:29 am

Okay, one last t-shirt slogan attempt…..

“Leave my Pits alone!”


OB Joe January 10, 2010 at 11:11 am

Couldn’t resist: “3 Day Walk for the Pits”, “OB- it’s the pits!”


Dave Gilbert January 10, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Before this recent campaign I’d never heard them referred to as “pits” but rather “fire rings” so I came up with, “Gimmee a Ring”.

I mean technically they aren’t pits. ;)


Frank Gormlie January 10, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Yeah, I’ve always thought they were rings too. But in actuality, they aren’t – they’re square. If you started saying “fire squares” no one would know what you’re talkin about.


Sunshine January 11, 2010 at 7:58 am

My mom used to say, “Gimmie died in the poor house.” so I can’t quite support that one, Dave. I do like your creative spark, though.

I’ve heard of playing ‘Grab the Ring” while riding a merry-go-round. Perhaps Wonderland had that game.

In the vein of Einstein’s E=MC2, how about r=OB8. What’s the scientific symbol for fire? A triangle!


Dave Gilbert January 11, 2010 at 9:40 am

Oh, I’m not throwing my idea into the ring so to speak. My point is that while I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life, I’ve never heard them called pits before. To my ear and at it’s least, “pits” marginalizes their importance and at it’s worse it sounds derogatory. You’re thrown into a pit for your digressions, where as a “ring” on the other hand, is something that joins together no matter whether it’s square, triangle, an octagon or a simple circle.


Dave Gilbert January 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Three things I thought of today after I posted my previous response;
1. I could swear that our fire rings used to be round.
2. I meant transgressions rather that digressions
3. When I think of the word “Gimmee” I either think of The Spencer Davis Group’s, Gimme Some Lovin’

Crazy Elephant’s, Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’

or the “mellow sounds” of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
ok, not so mellow! xD m/


Patty Jones January 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

i like gimmes too.


annagrace January 11, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I heard that once upon a time the rings were indeed round, and fun lovin’ fire worshipers would haul the rings onto their sides and roll them into the surf (fire ring #9 anyone????) Sounds like a helluva lot of work, and proves once again that just because you can doesn’t mean you should….


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