Jesse Liebl says he has been coming to San Francisco's Ocean Beach since 2010 about once every three months. He says a ban on bonfires will not stop people from throwing trash on the beach and will require resources to enforce.
Story and photos by Thomas K. Pendergast
(Originally posted February 9, 2015, on SFBay, a news website for the San Francisco Bay Area.)
The future of bonfires on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach was the burning question at the Cliff House restaurant last Thursday, where National Park Service personnel discussed options that include a total ban on them or reservations by permit only.
Aaron Roth, a deputy superintendent with the NPS said:
“So, what does the future look like? To be honest, we feel like we’re headed to a place of no fires on the beach. … It’s not really a desirable outcome but it is headed toward that inevitability if we don’t have change. Something has got to change.”
Now is not the first time the NPS has considered a ban on bonfires at Ocean Beach. In 2006 they did the same thing, and that was when Burners Without Borders first got involved.
An organization born at the juncture between the Burning Man art festival and Hurricane Katrina in 2005,Burners Without Borders organized four teams of artists to create fire rings for the beach and keep the right to burn there alive.
The social experiment in community service had mixed results. Even though two of the fire rings were pulled of the beach within the first year, and the last was snuffed in May 2014, it nevertheless succeeded in avoiding a total ban.
Roth laid out three ideas that the NPS is considering: a total ban on Ocean Beach bonfires, getting revenue from The City to help pay for cleaning up the beach or requiring a permit of between $25 and $75 to reserve bonfire pits.