Yesterday, [February 5, 2018], the Carmel Residents Association Board of Directors voted unanimously on a resolution to hold the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea accountable for the promises it has made in overseeing the beach fire pilot program on Carmel Beach. The CRA board also voted to support an immediate halt of the pilot program until all areas adopted in the Beach Fire Management Pilot document dated June 2016 are ready to be enforced.

While we understand that there have been some setbacks in complying with the measures outlined in that document, most noticeably hiring a dedicated beach patrol police officer to work in combination with private security staff, it has been 20 months since it was written and adopted, and it was done with the sole intention of guarding the safety, health and welfare of residents and members of the general public while [wood-fueled] fires, both legal and illegal, exist on the beach. It was also intended as a tool to create and preserve a clean and healthy environment for Carmel Beach. Given the lapse of time, it appears to residents, who have consistently been vocal on the issue of beach security, that this has not been a high enough priority for the city.

The board would like the city council to work in concert with the city administrator and city staff to thoroughly examine the status and level of commitment in all areas of the Beach Fire Management Pilot  Program, including, but not limited to, public education, enforcement, personal outreach and online information. As of yesterday, there is no information through the city’s search feature on its own website that is current on this topic. There are four references to fires on the beach, and the newest one cites a memo dated April 8, 2015: Beach Fires Management Staff Report.

While conducting such an examination of the Beach Fire Management Pilot Program, we are confident that a halt to the pilot program will be justified. In the meantime, we urge the city to hire security guards to closely monitor any illegal beach fire activity which is not in the best interests of residents, the general public or our highly valued beach. While we certainly are not in the position to know everything that the city has done in all areas of the pilot program, we feel it is our civic duty as well as our responsibility in representing Carmel residents, to bring our concerns to the attention of the city council tonight [February 6, 2018].