Posted April 1, 2014 By Frank Peters

Monthly site visitors

Ever feel like no one’s listening?

Maybe somedays.

But our Google Urchin stats tell a different story — the number of site visitors has grown dramatically over the past few months. We’re getting the word out, granted, on a small scale, but we’re attracting 83% more eyeballs than we did 4 months ago.

It’s the convergence of so many similar messages, as much as the fine content you’ll find here. The stories of the hazards from breathing wood smoke when combined with the growing body of scientific evidence on air pollution adds up to many newsworthy topics, so people are tuning in. Images of people wearing masks, whether in Beijing, Paris or Salt Lake City cause more people to wonder,

Do we really have the budget for all this beach burning?

As you know, there’s no Emerald Forest between the 800 beach bonfires and the 10 million inhabitants of the LA Basin – those fire pits are poisoning the first clean ocean breezes that blow in from the Pacific.

In recent months news stories from the World Health Organization have named air pollution and particulate matter as Group 1 carcinogens. This past week the NY Times Editorial Board writes of the looming climate crisis. The beach bonfires that so many cherish contribute in their own small way to an enormous crisis our children and grandchildren will suffer with.

Thanks for visiting the site. Leave a comment to let us know your interests. And hit that PayPal Donate button before you go.




Posted March 30, 2014 By Frank Peters


Tonight was another night of poor compliance with the Charcoal-only ordinance here at the Big Corona fire pits.

A man caught my eye as I approached his group. After fiddling with the camera for a few seconds he came over to talk. He wondered what I thought of the wood versus charcoal policy. One of his friends was smoking, so I pointed out the irony, the 800 cigarettes analogy. He was a Psychology major from UCI,

What do you do? Put the pictures on a website?

I gave him my card; invited him to take a look.

Then I walk around looking for a decent size fire, so it will light up nicely in the camera. I found several that qualified, but the last fire pit group I deemed their fire too small.








Posted March 29, 2014 By Frank Peters


Park Patrol punches out before sunset – that leaves a free-for-all for those that want to burn wood in the beach fire pits at Big Corona.










Posted March 29, 2014 By Frank Peters
Once the wood gets on the beach, it's gonna be burned

Shortly after this photo, Park Patrol had them remove all this wood

The first week of Charcoal-only is wrapping up. Fire pit enthusiasts can no longer burn wood, not in Newport Beach at least.

But like any time you’re out to change behaviors, it can be a slow process.

Last night we walked home from the movies arriving at the beach around 9:30pm. It was a wood burning frenzy. I was reluctant to document the late-night scene, so instead I got down there early this morning for a little forensic photography.

As the photos show, it was mostly wood being burned.

In my morning-after visit to the fire pits, all but 2 had wood burning last night

My morning-after visit to the fire pits shows mostly wood burning

There are 27 fire pits at Big Corona. Most have wood embers in them this morning.

There are 27 fire pits at Big Corona. Most have wood embers in them this morning.

Another wood fire from last night

Someone used sand to put out this wood fire

Kinda complying

Kinda complying



Before You Burn, Know The Facts

Posted March 27, 2014 By Frank Peters

There’s a new regulation in effect – beach bonfires in Newport Beach can only burn charcoal. It’s a big improvement.

What’s been missing is the “Why”.

Download the handout.


Park Patrol

Posted March 22, 2014 By Frank Peters
Ok to burn?

Ok to burn?

The Charcoal-only policy begins Monday which means we are as anxious as can be. It’s been a long time coming.

In the meantime, yes, we are looking at what people are bringing to the beach to burn.

We don’t always like what we see.

Today there was one group of kids with natural wood combined with scrap lumber, really old wood and furniture. Some pieces were varnished.

What do you think happens when you burn that?

Granted, I was a little smart-ass. They just shrugged.

Had they heard about the new charcoal-only policy? No.
I believed them. Even though there are signs announcing the new policy, some beachgoers find it easy to look the other way.

I live here – I have to breathe this crap.

What we had was a failure to communicate, so Barbara called Park Patrol.

They’ve got a big job already and with the new fire pits regulations coming online, it’s about to get a lot bigger. Mike Ferris responded.

Barbara and Mike Ferris

Barbara and Mike Ferris

Before he arrived, we wondered just what his commitment level might be. I did speculate that like the population at large, there’s a wide range of attitudes about beach burning.

I was way off.

We saw the Park Patrol truck come down the hill, so we walked over to say hello. Mike was very professional – he wanted to know what we expected. He asked several questions as we told the story of our involvement from the very first neighborhood meeting 7 years ago.

He told us of the new hires coming onboard, in Park Patrol and in the Recreation Dept. As we listened we were both impressed — the City is clear on how they will manage the fire pits.

One analogy Mike shared that had us both chuckling was how he deals with someone smoking on the beach. He doesn’t wait for the perpetrator to finish his smoke then move on – it’s “Put that out now.” There will be a similar approach in compliance with the new charcoal-only policy.

Mike had been a Sheriff for about 40 years then the opportunity came up on the Park Patrol.

I’m not out to throw people in jail — I just want people to comply.

As we walked away I know we were both quite impressed. It’s still gonna take a long while for people to get the message, but Mike Ferris and the Park Patrol are clear on their role.

I’m feeling pretty optimistic.



No Charcoal Tonight

Posted March 6, 2014 By Frank Peters

The City of Newport Beach has placed signs all over the beach at the 3 locations that offer fire pits.

“Charcoal-only” is the message, but so far compliance is poor.

Of the three fires at Big Corona tonight, no one had heard of the fire pits controversies, no one had heard of the restrictions on wood burning.

Watch the video.



We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Sign

Posted March 6, 2014 By Frank Peters

March 1st has come and gone, so how is everything going at the Newport Beach fire pits?

Last July the SCAQMD voted in the first-in-the-nation beach fire pit regulations — all we had to do is wait till March 1st for their implementation. But like many governmental decrees, it takes longer than you hope. Meanwhile the City has implemented a “Charcoal-only” policy until they can make their case to the Coastal Commission to remove, or spread out the polluting pits.

Run over by a truck?

Warning: Breathing wood smoke can be dangerous to signs! photos: Charlie Farrell

Signs notifying beachgoers of the policy change appeared at all beach bonfire locations this week – they seemed to go over better with folks at Big Corona than on the peninsula where this sign looked like it was hit by a truck.

Whether it’s beach burning in the fire pits or the No Burn Days, there’s a segment of the population that’s slow to acknowledge the adverse health effects that come from burning wood.

Still smoldering

Still smoldering the next morning

Last night there were two fires on the beach at Big Corona, neither burning charcoal. It’s gonna take time to educate the public, but it’s gonna happen.

While the Tea Party may lament government’s intrusion into every aspect of their lives, I can picture their grandchildren understanding the issue better — we share the air and although it’s a new concept for some, you can’t escape the almost daily drumbeat of news reports featuring the latest scientific studies on air pollution and its adverse health effects on humans.



Drought Turns Ski Week Into Burn Week

Posted February 18, 2014 By Frank Peters

A cough woke me from a sound sleep.

And kept me awake.

I tossed and turned hoping I wasn’t waking my wife, but how could she sleep through this? It was a convulsing cough, shaking my whole body.

Because I’d been asleep I kept hoping that with only a minute’s reprieve I could fall back asleep, but that came only after worrying: Would I be rushed to the hospital? Where’s my inhaler? Was this because of the fire pits (always a worry)? Or was it because of my long bike ride? What role does my family history play?

I did fall back asleep or else I wouldn’t be writing this now. And no, I didn’t wake my wife – only my two cats were witnesses to my coughing fit. But I’m a wreck this morning. I can feel my lungs, plus I’m exhausted.


Today’s another in a long season of No Burn Days. I’ve lost count how many there have been this winter season.

There were No Burn Days called for last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and now today, Tuesday. Makes me think Sunday and Monday should’ve been called as well, but it was the long Presidents Weekend, so everyone at the AQMD was enjoying a long weekend getaway, too.

It all adds up to a bad season for breathing.

Typically at this time of year the winter rains discourage beach crowds – there are other fun things to do, but not this year. You probably have friends reporting from Mammoth, too — ski conditions are terrible. And because of the drought, this week which is known to all local High School students as Ski Week, is instead an early Spring, or never-ending Summer, so people are coming to the beach to burn — it’s Burn Week.

Saturday night was a phantasmagorical night of beach bonfires. All 27 fire pits here at Big Corona were blazing; several fires were enormous with flames rising 20 feet into the air, pumping huge plumes of smoke into the air.

The No Burn Days prohibitions don’t apply to the beach bonfires until March 1st. I’m counting the days and hoping for a week of rain.



Finally, The Facts: Public Outreach Gets A Boost

Posted February 10, 2014 By Frank Peters

Amy Wilson writes for the OC Register

Amy Wilson writes for the OC Register

Amy Wilson writes for the Orange County Register, Pollution: Can we breathe any easier than we used to?

Levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone are down very significantly, and lead in the air has been almost completely eliminated.

But there are new frontiers in air pollution science, the pursuit of ever tinier particles that enter our lungs and carry other dangerous molecules with them,

It’s the stuff that’s called PM2.5 – particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns across – that are considered “fine particles.” And they are, indeed, small, about 1/30 the width of a human hair. They’re mostly produced by combustion sources. They can also be things like dust, or recombinations of things in the atmosphere: Bacteria, viruses, salts, dander, soot, ammonia, metals, silica, soil, nitrates, dust, pollen, insect parts, stuff you don’t want to know about, carbons, diesel, bits of rubber, and things like sulfur dioxide, which is a product of engine combustion, and more.

Fellow clean air advocates will appreciate Wilson’s approachable style as she describes the problems and the people working on solutions. You’ll find many tweetable one-liners, too.

Locally we face widespread resistance to the science and the resulting regulations over open-burning at the beach — it would be comical if it weren’t so serious. Many of our most outspoken critics think the science of fine particulates began last Spring with the SCAQMD’s fire pits’ monitoring.

We need our local news sources to disseminate the facts. Wilson’s article is thorough, spanning 7 online pages, where she takes her time to tell the story. Help spread the word.