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Sounding Off: Council acted responsibly on fire issue

December 23, 2010|By Matt Lawson

The City Council should be commended for protecting our 24,000 residents and $15 billion to $20 billion in residential property by enacting some prudent rules regarding decorative tiki torches and fire pits, similar to our long-standing restrictions on fireworks.

Since the devastating 1993 fire that consumed the homes and hopes and dreams of nearly 400 Laguna Beach families, we are fortunate in not having had any repeats. But we dare not forget that most of us live only "one spark away" from a similar disaster.

While there may not be documented cases of fires in Laguna Beach caused by tiki torches and fire pits, the potential risk from these purely decorative open flame amenities far exceeds any conceivable benefit in our fire-prone residential neighborhoods.

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By demonstrating the city's leadership position on fire safety, these new rules also help encourage major fire insurance carriers to keep doing business in Laguna Beach. With insurance companies getting more selective, many local homeowners have experienced great difficulty in keeping their private fire coverage.

It could well diminish the value of our homes if the only fire insurance option in Laguna was the very limited, very expensive "last resort" coverage offered by our fiscally challenged state government.

Our council acted responsibly to prevent a serious problem, in stark contrast to the federal government's failures of foresight that led to 9/11, the Katrina flood in New Orleans and the BP oil spill. The council members have our backs and deserve our support.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a happy, fire-safe New Year.

Matt Lawson lives in Laguna Beach.

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