Group looks for fire ring solution

Now that the city has decided to eliminate beach fire rings as part of cuts to stem the growing tide of budgetary red ink, the Jolla Shores Association is considering launching a community effort to “adopt a fire ring.”

Community activist Mary Coakley first suggested that fire rings, like roads, could be “adopted” by individuals or merchants who might fund them in return for naming rights or some other form of formal recognition.

She said she has mixed feelings about the fire enclosures.

“They are huge pollutants environmentally,” said Coakley, but she is nonetheless more worried about the “unintended consequences” of not retaining them.

All or nothing

“I’m suggesting that, before removing them all, that they (city) at least get input from those affected and get a consensus as to whether people want them, and want the opportunity to fund them,” she said. “We’ve been told that they will not leave just the ones at La Jolla Shores, that it’s all (kept) or nothing (all removed).”

Jim Heaton, chairman of the neighborhood association, said saving the fire rings could become a Catch-22 for the community.

“Fire rings attract people to the beach which could change it from being a nice family beach to a party beach at night,” he said.

Libraries or fire rings?

Heaton said if it comes down to fire rings, or other essential public services, that the rings would probably have to go.

“If you look at the cost of a fire ring as opposed to the benefits of a public library … I find it very hard to defend public funding of the fire rings,” he said.

Coakley suggested there are options to removing the fire rings that ought to at least be explored.

“We need time to organize an effort to salvage the fire rings and provide the necessary funding to preserve the jobs and equipment necessary to continue their use,” she said, imploring the city to “let us know the date the fire rings are scheduled for removal. Work with us to establish a program to retain them if that is, indeed, the will of the people.”

The La Jolla Shores Merchants Association voted unanimously at a recent meeting to support retaining the area’s fire rings.