17 Feb, 2010
Budget Cuts Fan the Flames of Beach Bonfire Discussion in California
In the latest discussion about budget cuts, one of the last beaches we ever thought we would see bonfire pits removed or reduced is Huntington Beach. Tourists loves bonfires, and in the 2009 California State Visitors Guide, Huntington Beach was featured on the cover with a group of bongo-playing models sitting around the embers of a blazing fire, set to the backdrop of Huntington Beach Pier and sunset. But getting rid of 50% or so of the rings is being discussed by the City as a way to save money.
When Orange County Beaches & Parks threatened to remove the county beach bonfire rings several years ago to save money, bonfire lovers complained but got a reprieve when the county agreed to keep the fire pits.
Huntington Beach and OC aren’t alone:
- Newport Beach has considered cutting the bonfire pits as well.
- And so has Carmel.
- And so has San Diego.
- And so have the California State Parks.
Just yesterday an advertisement on television with peppy music enticed tourists to visit San Diego. The action surrounded a group sitting around a bonfire at the beach. Even while San Diego parks department has considered removing its bonfire rings. Is there a disconnect between the city planners and tourism entities seen as each city’s hope of helping its budget crunch?
Each city with bonfire rings and a tourism department advertises this activity proudly, calling it a time honored tradition. What will the future bring? We’ve tried calling the California State Parks for updates when a press release said the bonfire pits were to be reduced or removed. But when we drove by beaches such as Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, the bonfire rings were there. Officials said the rings aren’t gone as far as they know. Our recommendation has been to create a pay to play use of bonfire rings. By charging people for their fun as an add-on amenity, the costs could off-set the attraction.