8:01 PM PST, January 9, 2013
Newport Beach has made application to the California Coastal Commission to remove the fire rings from its ocean beaches.
This seems inconsistent with the city's recent actions to collect additional fees for tidelands use. Newport Beach officials have been lecturing the public on the importance of the city collecting fair-market rent for use of city-controlled tidelands.
In recent actions, the City Council has made huge increases in the fees charged for moorings, commercial harbor users and private-docks on tidelands, changing the rent for private docks from a flat fee to a charge per square foot. Why not apply the same principles to the ocean beaches, also city-controlled tidelands?
The fire rings on ocean beaches are analogous to docks in the bay. Both are structures occupying public tidelands. Obviously, there is an income stream available from use of the fire rings. It would seem that the city has the same duty to collect revenue from its tidelands, whether bay or ocean beach.
The same methodology could be used for square-footage calculation that is being used for private docks. The fee charged for a dock is based on the area of the dock, plus the area of a 10-foot band around the dock, usable for boat storage. Similarly, the calculation for fire rings would include a 10-foot band around each fire ring, usable for fire-ring renters.
Collecting the fees from fire-ring users would be a simple matter. A standard city parking meter would be installed at each fire ring. A user would be able to swipe a credit card and punch in a number of hours.
One of the objections to the fire rings has been their production of unhealthful smoke, which drifts into residential areas. A solution to this problem would be a requirement for use of low-emission firewood in the fire rings. The city could sell this special firewood (in bundles) to fire-ring renters, producing additional revenue for the city.
For consistency in its tidelands policy, the city should withdraw its request to the Coastal Commission for removal of the fire rings. Then the city could do what it likes best — collecting more fees.
Re. "Commentary: How to control those annoying crows," Dec. 27: I can't believe this guy thought it was cool to shoot wads of BBs at crows in his trees. And that he put it in print that he thought he was so smart. And you let him. They probably ate the beetles that later infested his trees when he killed them with BBs or scared them off.