Photo courtesy of Irene Tong/Flickr
By Thomas K. Pendergast
(Originally posted on February 25, 2016, at SFBay, a news website for the San Francisco Bay Area.)
A tsunami of public outcry has extinguished a National Park Service plan to require permits and the payment of fees for people to have campfires on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.
As federal land, the beach is administered by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Their Director of Communications, Howard Levitt, said they received more than 500 comments about fires on Ocean Beach:
“As a result of those comments … we’ve stepped away from the idea of a permit system. … The permit system was not popular among commenters on the proposed rule and we dropped it.”
The permit system would have applied to groups of less than 25 people. Groups larger than 25 already have to reserve a permit and pay a fee using a separate system.
Many local citizens and advocates showed up to public meetings with the GGNRA and voiced strong opinions against the proposal. One of them was Tom Price, who has been involved in the off-then-on-again issue for a decade. Price said is relieved by agency’s decision.
“I think they had an attack of common sense. … No one becomes a Park Service ranger to become the S’more-police but that’s what they were setting up their rangers to do. The permit system the Park Service proposed was going to be a law-enforcement nightmare.”