No, the District fire rings on Olde Port Beach have been discontinued for the 2021 season and bonfires are not allowed at this time.
After the 2019 season, the Harbor District began looking at the Seasonal Fire Ring program to evaluate public safety, environmental and overall management concerns.
In doing so, the District found that bonfires, both the allowed bonfires in District fire rings and illegal bonfires made outside of the rings, have become a significant source of public safety, water and sand quality issues. These issues include a steady increase in debris such as broken glass, nails and other sharp objects, aluminum/metal cans, plastic and general garbage occurring in and around the bonfire sites and in random areas of the beach/ocean. Another serious risk that was found is hot coals/embers covered with sand that can remain hot for several days and pose a burn danger to unsuspecting beachgoers.
The District also found there has been repeated damage to the rock revetment due to creation of fire pits from the revetment boulders, as well as vandalism to the restrooms, access ramps and staircases.
Our Facilities Department has noted there was approximately 250 District staff hours spent on the March to November program. Those hours included weekly removal of debris (glass, plastic, nails from pallet burning, etc.) from the designated fire rings, necessitating use of a backhoe in many instances. The hours also include clean-up of the many illegal fires conducted outside of a designated fire ring.
Those issues, coupled with the severe fire danger and proximity of a fuel-filled hillside, has led the District to discontinue this program for the 2021 season.