‘Team effort’ saves La Jolla’s fire pits for another year
Beachgoers will get to warm up around fire pits on San Diego’s beaches for at least one more year.
On Monday afternoon, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced in a press conference that San Diego Foundation’s Mission Bay Park Endowment Fund, the La Jolla Community Foundation and San Diego Councilmembers Sherri Lightner and Kevin Faulconer and local residents had raised enough money to save the pits.
Shortly afterwards on a blustery afternoon at La Jolla Shores, those who work and play where seven pits will stay said they were relieved.
“They increase the family environment,” noted Lifeguard Sgt. John Sandmeyer. “As long as people don’t get out of control and obey the rules, don’t pile the fuel up too high and don’t mix it with alcohol: it brings a positive element.”
Two UCSD freshmen, Nick Kimbau and Gregg Ringold, sunning themselves near one of the Shores’ fire pits, were pleased they will still be there.
“This is my first year here and I’ve never used them before, but we’re talking about doing that,” Kimbau said.
“It’s really nice to have them at night just to come down here,” Ringold said.
The 186 concrete public fire pits measuring 5-feet-by-5 feet have been a popular part of San Diego beach culture for decades, but city officials had sought to eliminate them at Mission Bay, La Jolla Shores and Ocean Beach in 2010 to help trim approximately $120,500 per year from the city’s budget.
Last year an anonymous donor stepped forward to save them for 18 months; this year the funding comes from two community foundations, two council members’ offices and residents:
The biggest contributor was the San Diego Foundation’s Mission Bay Park Endowment Fund, which anted up $90,000. The rest came from the La Jolla Community Foundation, $4,700; Councilman Kevin Faulconer’s City Council District 2, $16,500 and Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s City Council District 1, $6,500. Additionally, the city of San Diego will use $2,896 generated from donors online to the Save the Fire Pit Fund.
“This is clearly a team effort from all parts of San Diego big and small,” Faulconer said. “I’m really delighted that everybody pulled together to make this happen.”
His council counterpart Lightner thanked the La Jolla Community Foundation and the San Diego Foundation for their generosity.
“However, our hard work is not finished,” she added. “We need to continue raising funds to ensure that the fire pits can remain on our beaches for years to come.”
Phyllis Pfeiffer, chair of the La Jolla Community Foundation, said the La Jolla group took the lead last month on a campaign to raise awareness about the fire pits and generate community support for their continuance.
“We are thrilled by the response to our call for support,” Pfeiffer said. “The fire pits have long contributed to the public’s enjoyment at La Jolla Shores. We believe that our assistance in preserving the fire pits is consistent with the foundation’s mission to encourage civic engagement and pride through local philanthropy.”
In making the announcement at a press conference on the beach near the Dana Inn, the mayor said, they “will be available for all San Diegans to enjoy through next June.”
Bob Kelly, president/chief executive officer of the San Diego Foundation, noted: “To not have them would be a great loss to our communities and to future generations … The Foundation’s mission is to help San Diego be a better place to work, live and play and our grant to this city meets that mission.”
Information about the La Jolla charitable group is at www.lajollacommunityfoundation.org or call Trudy Armstrong at (858) 674-6979, or e-mail trudy@SDFoundation.org. For information about the San Diego Foundation go to www.sdfoundation.org.
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