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If the city can't afford to maintain the fire pits on its beaches, can community members step in? Members of Ocean Beach's planning board pondered that question at its January 6 meeting, discussing City of San Diego plans to do away with 186 beach fire pits. The city says $120,000 is needed for another year of pit maintenance, which is currently performed by two city employees.

Local business owner Frank Gormlie asked the planning board to fight for the eight fire pits in Ocean Beach. Gormlie argued that, in addition to their recreational value, the pits play an important safety role. Gormlie said a fire-department veteran he spoke with believes that, without pits, some beach visitors would make illegal beach fires, leaving behind embers and other hazards that would put law-abiding beachgoers at risk.

The board unanimously resolved that the "Ocean Beach Planning Board strenuously opposes the removal of fire pits from Ocean Beach Park" and will forward the resolution to the City.

To save the eight fire pits in Ocean Beach, Gormlie has organized an "Adopt-a-Fire-Pit" program, under which citizens and businesses would assume responsibility for OB's pits. The board seemed intrigued by Gormlie's plan, though one member raised liability concerns.

Matthew Awbrey, representing councilmember Kevin Faulconer, said Faulconer was "very receptive to the idea" of community members maintaining fire pits. "A couple challenges exist," Awbrey noted, such as potential conflict from volunteers taking over work of unionized city employees.

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Comments

PistolPete Jan. 9, 2010 @ 3:23 p.m.

This is why unions have outlived their usefulness...$120,000 for two employees to get rid of ashes? No wonder this city gets laughed at.

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Shane_Finneran Jan. 9, 2010 @ 11:37 p.m.

Keep in mind that the $120,000 could apply to more than just the employees. For example, fire pit maintenance reportedly involves a front-loader and a dump truck, which presumably contribute a significant portion of the expense.

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scottybones Feb. 16, 2010 @ 9:07 a.m.

According to the budget, mathmatically the numbers are reasonable. Cost for Two Full-time, qualified, insured employees ~51k each. The remaining 18k for equipment maintenance, fuel, proper disposal and permits.

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