City launches fire pit fundraising drive

Beach fire pits will be around until June 30, 2010, but unless the city comes up with money by year-end that will be it, so a fundraising campaign kicked off last week.

“Our goal is to raise $173,000 by Dec. 15 this year to ensure the program is in the budget for fiscal year 2011 which starts in July 2010,” said Jenny Wolff, city development director who is coordinating the fundraising Fire Pit Program to sustain the popular beach attraction.

“We need to create awareness for the need for funding to keep the program in San Diego. The goal is to raise the money before the current money runs out so the mayor can put the program in the budget for another fiscal year.”

The city Park and Recreation Department maintains 186 pits in La Jolla, Mission Bay, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach that had been targeted for removal due to shrinking city revenues.

Mary Coakley, a member of the La Jolla Shores Association which oversees La Jolla Shores beach where there are now fire pits, said coastal communities are beginning to work together to do what is necessary to save them.

“The city is not going to allow individual areas to just keep them in there,” she said.

“It’s all or nothing, which is why communities are coming together and resolving the issues.”

Coakley said an ad hoc group known as Friends of San Diego Shoreline has formed and begun meeting periodically to discuss fire pit issues.

Wolff has been encouraged by early response to the city’s Fire Pit Program. “People have been sending in checks,” she said. “It’s truly a tradition in San Diego and people from all over San Diego, even people who don’t live in California but travel here, want to support them.”

Fire pits must be regularly cleaned of ash and debris to protect the health and safety of beach users. The cleaning process requires two employees, using a front loader and a dump truck, and takes an average of 30 minutes for each fire pit.

For more information, call Wolff at (619) 236-7002 or e-mail