Photo by St. John’s Community
On Thursday night, the National Park Service will host a public meeting to discuss fires on Ocean Beach. The meeting will be held at the Cliff House- Terrace Room from 6pm until 8:30pm (1090 Point Lobos Avenue).
There has been a long brewing controversy over the fires on Ocean Beach, with beach visitors in favor of them and the Park Service not due to the cleanup and people’s inability to follow the rules when having fires.
Take a stroll on the beach on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you’ll see lots of remnants from the previous night’s fires including trash, bottles and broken glass. It’s this post-fire cleanup that is taxing the Park Service, who say they don’t have the staff or the budget to manage it.
In 2006, the Park Service was threatening to ban fires altogether, but fans fought to keep the tradition alive.
In 2007, a nonprofit organization called Burners Without Borders stepped in to represent the community, and work with the park service to design and build artistic fire pits for Ocean Beach, raising $40,000 for the project. The hope was that designated fire pits would help reduce the amount of rogue fires and encourage the community to better manage the trash and debris.
Unfortunately the designated fire pits did not alleviate the issues, and the Park Service is now reassessing the program.
Thursday’s meeting may be the last chance for the public to give their input into fires on the beach before the Park Service decides on next steps. Options on the table range from requiring permits for beach fires to banning fires altogether.
According to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the objective is to “obtain productive input and feedback from the public to help inform the decision-making process for the future of fires on Ocean Beach.”
More from the Park Service:
Throughout the years there have been ongoing issues on the beach in the area wherefires are allowed, making it challenging for the park to manage effectively. The most prevalent issues include: hazardous materials such as broken glass, nails and hot coals; disorderly conduct associated with alcohol consumption; and significant amounts of trash left on the beach and promenade.
This meeting has been structured to provide as much information as possible and respond to questions and concerns from stakeholders. NPS staff will be available to discuss and provide information based on their experience in the field. District 1 Supervisor, Eric Mar, and representatives from San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department will also be in attendance and available to speak with attendees.
The agenda for Thursday’s meeting is as follows:
- Introductory remarks – Frank Dean, Superintendent of GGNRA
- Background information – Howard Levitt, Director of Communications and Partnerships, GGNRA
- City of SF Partnership – Eric Mar, Supervisor, District 1
- Review of Revised Pilot Program – Samantha Pollak, Planner, GGNRA
- Concepts for the future – Aaron Roth, Deputy Superintendent, GGNRA
The meeting will also include small group discussions on focused topics. The meeting begins at 6pm at the Cliff House.