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This Is What Class War Looks Like: Bonfires Banned in SoCal

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Ultra-wealthy Southern California residents have just won a victory in the battle to impose their social preferences on the poor. The neo-puritan landowners of Newport Beach, worried about their “asthma and allergies,” have convinced air-quality regulators to make it impossibly hard for the public to use the beach fire-pits that have lined California’s coast for half a century. Sixty fire pits in Newport will be removed, and local officials can now ban them entirely if they decide “that the fires are causing a nuisance.” The WSJ reports:

The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District voted Friday to amend rules for 765 fire rings on the beaches of Los Angeles and Orange counties. […]

The new rules require that fire pits be located at least 700 feet from the nearest residence, or spaced 50 to 100 feet apart, depending on the total number of pits at a given beach. Fires aren’t allowed on days where the air-quality forecast calls for high levels of particulate matter. […]

Residents who have adamantly opposed any bans on the pits were upset with the ruling. Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach, who sponsored a state resolution to protect the fire-ring tradition, said the board “overstepped its bounds…to appease a small group of wealthy landowners at the expense of all Californians.”

This is what actual class warfare looks like: rich citizens winning legal battles to regulate and restrict the freedom of the lower classes to enjoy their beach communities.

One of the main functions of the progressive state has always been to impose the cultural and behavioral preferences of the upper middle class on the poor. Stopping immigrants and working class Angelenos from having noisy, disruptive fun along pristine waterfronts is exactly the kind of challenge that nanny state puritans long to solve. Now a relentless lobby campaign of purse-mouthed puritans has succeeded in taking yet another chunk of liberty from young working class people.

It’s starting to look like a trend: the law in California favors the preferences of the privileged over those of the poor.

[Image of fire-pit on California beach courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • bpuharic

    The progressive state wants to stop the poor from enjoying the beach? OMG!! Class warfare!!

    Meanwhile right wingers just told the poor their children have to starve so rich farmers can get subsidies

    WRM seems to have missed that. Maybe the kids can die on the beach.

    • Diggsc

      Lefties using strawmen….where have I heard that being done before?

      Please provide the quote where right wingers told the poor that their children have to starve.

      Moron.

    • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

      This right winger, personally and through his church, supports a mission that provides 3000 people a week with groceries … and WE’RE the ones telling poor children to starve?

      No, more like telling our government to get out of activities that others can do better, in both cost and effectiveness, than it can.

      Funny, too, how some of the people in the towns that that mission hands food out in, have a problem when their trucks bring that food, once a week, to a public parking lot in a town where the people can get it safely. Mission personnel have been harassed by townsfolk and even officials, to the point of threatening to arrest them and impound their trucks.

      I guess “out of sight, out of mind” is just as good a solution for poverty in the eyes of these townspeople, as anything else … which is rather similar to what is going on at the beach in California.

      But don’t give me your “right wingers want to see children starve” droppings, parrot …

      … wanna cracker?

      • bpuharic

        I’m touched by your Reader’s Digest story. Really I am.

        Yeah. You’re telling poor people to starve. And you’re telling the middle class to bankroll the rich. What part of the results of the recent farm bill don’t you understand?

        If you want govt to do what you say, why are you taxing ME to support BIILLIONAIRES?

        Seems the right thinks the rich DESERVE to plunder the middle class while the poor can go hand.

    • ThomasD

      Shorter progressive: “I deny your reality and substitute my own!”

      Laughable if it weren’t so pervasive.

  • Lard123

    It isn’t about asthma and allergies. It’s about slobs using the fire pits and leaving their garbage all over the place.

    Class warfare?

    Dumb

    • Diggsc

      Yeah, nothing says class inclusion like the term “slobs”.

    • ThomasD

      Which certainly explains why it was Air Quality Regulators who imposed the ban…

      Or, maybe not.

  • Corlyss

    The Newporters’ argument is hilarious given that the state is rife with big fires in the summer, thanks to their powerful but stupid green lobby.

  • thrasymachus02

    Knowing the actual race and class situation helps understand things. I haven’t lived in the area in a long time, but back in the day the beach at Newport at night drew a lot of unsavory Mexicans. The upper middle-class and upper-class white people of Newport didn’t scare them. Huntington Beach on the other hand was populated by fairly rough blue-collar whites who would have send any poorly-behaved Mexicans packing, and you could go there even late at night without any concern. California is becoming both more rich and more Mexican, and the newer, even richer residents of Newport don’t want the more numerous Mexicans having loud parties on the beach, and getting rid of the fire rings helps that. The blue-collar whites (and probably a lot more Mexicans now) in HB still want to have beach fires, but those kinds of people don’t count.

    • Kavanna

      The white blue-collar residents will soon be moving to another state anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

      I’m sure the ultrawealthy landowners are also ultraliberal Obama donors.

    • Diggsc

      Nothing says Leftist inclusion like the term “unsavory Mexicans”.

    • kriskanya

      So, this is one issue I’m sortof ambivalent about. I’m somewhat ignorant of the OC beaches specifically, but up in LA we have Dockweiler. It is near LAX, so there are no homes really affected. However, I’m consistently amazed at the level of East LA riff raff that frequents that beach via the 105, and avoid it myself. I’m not a rich homeowner, but rather a renter, and it bothers me all the same. Though I suppose if you got rid of the pits they might migrate to South Bay, which would be worse.

    • Carl Pham

      I’m totally OK with people not wanting assholes making a mess in their neighborhood. If that’s “racist,” because some people assume brown or black people are more likely to behave like jerks on public land…well, I think know where the real racism lies.

  • USNK2

    Fire pits do need regulation. Whether LA and Orange County are being too restrictive is not my concern.
    But, I had a neighbor in CT, who burned woody yard debris more than 100 feet from my house, The very black smoke still filled my house.
    It was illegal, but he had buddies in the Fire dep’t.
    I called the CT DEP next, and the local Fire Dep’t. also got an education.
    I got worse harrassment from that neighbor, finally forced to move.
    Why would anyone want a fire pit on a public beach? Aren’t stone grills enough?

    • Diggsc

      It was illegal, but he still did it. There’s a lesson there in gun control somewhere, but I just can’t put my finger on it.

    • http://leatherpenguin.com/ TC_LeatherPenguin

      You’re telling us your neighbor in CT forced you outta your home? What town?

  • jmatt55

    You ever seen the mountains of garbage and charred wood left after a beach bonfire?

    I used to live on the beach. I know what filthy animals people are first hand. I have seen women change babies and hurl the dirty diaper into the dunes toward my house.

    I have no sympathy.

  • koblog

    Why so hard on the Puritans? Surely an intellect like you can come up with a better description for these effete snobs who think they own the ocean.

    You offend the memory of the Puritans — who mostly wanted to escape statist religion — and, sadly, have bought into the popular but erroneous modern deconstruction of Puritanism, which is simply another attack on Christianity.

    These Newport snobs are a religion unto themselves, and many, many levels below the quality of Puritan.

  • Hoss

    Class warfare is a two way street. The “upper class” get beach fires banned and the
    “working class” can no longer break up a boat owned by a friend who lives on that beach and use it for firewood. The “upper class” no longer have to suffer the consequences of the “working class” getting drunk, messing up the beach and
    leaving while ttheir beach fires are still burning.

    Its not really class warfare, its a lack of decency
    and manners.

    • AD_Rtr_OS

      Trust me, Newport Beach residents don’t keep boats “on the beach”.

      • Hoss

        Trust me, my friend lives on a Newport beach and his small boat was broken up and used
        as firewood when he was
        out of town.

  • Cityside

    Wonder just how “progressive” these neo-puritans are:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport_Beach,_California#Politics

    “As of January 2010, there were 34,747 registered Republicans, 13,684 Democrats 11,719 unaffiliated and 2,432 minor party voters, making Newport Beach one of the most heavily Republican cities in California (Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 3 to 1).”

    • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

      Too simplistic a broad-brush …

      You can still be rather Progressive, and register as a Republican … ref: Huntsman, Jon … Specter, Arlen … Castle, Mike …

      And what is the political affiliation of those actually doing the griping here?

  • TheProudDuck

    Professor Mead: It was actually almost much worse. AQMD tried to ban *all* beach bonfires, full stop. Many of us locals were outraged. Chris Epting, a writer from Huntington Beach, helped mobilize some very motivated people who forced the AQMD to back down to this more limited rule. (I chipped in a newspaper commentary showing that the District’s alleged scientific basis for the ban was all wet.)

    In the end, the handful of well-connected Newporters got rid of the fires by their house, but failed in their attempt to ban them all across the region.

    As Harry Reid would say, “this isn’t over.” The AQMD vote was 7-6. We’re looking to replace a couple of the petty tyrants and get a do-over.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    I wonder what the CA Coastal Commission will say on this as how it relates to restricting use of and access to Public Lands?

    The big burr under the saddle of the Newporters is that the “unwashed” using the fire-pits on the beach were obvious in having more fun than the locals in their backyards (encroaching upon those same Public Lands) were having gathered around their “private” fire-pits (Natural-gas fired, of course).

  • koblog

    Forget fire rings.

    True class warfare exists a few miles northward, in Malibu, where movie stars and the likes of Barbra Streisand live.

    There, the elites attempt to block access to “their” section of “their” beach that is actually open to the public because they own the mansion(s) near the water.

    They conspire to make it so difficult to access the beach that people simply give up, even though it’s a public beach, open to all.

    Then our betters go out and make a movie about “injustice to the little guy!” or sing a concert for Obama that’s open only to millionaire contributors.

  • Carl Pham

    Oh bullshit. Loud parties are one thing, it’s quite another not to be able to breathe because of wood smoke until 2am. I don’t even like them *as a beachgoer*. Doheny Beach can be intolerable at dusk on holiday weekends. Would you be ranting about class warfare if it said local restaraunts couldn’t dump rotting fish heads on the beach to get rid of them cheaply?

    And they didn’t even *ban* beach fires (which most beaches that close to housing in the rest of the country do), they just said there’s a limit on how close together they can be, and how close to houses. That’s an unusually sensible solution from the AQMD, if you ask me.

    This isn’t what “class warfare” looks like, it’s what “compromising between conflicting wishes and rights of different groups of citizens” looks like. Government when it’s actually working, that is.

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