Opinion: Sunset Beach remains on the move to improve

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Sunset Beach residents may have wondered if this day was ever going to come. But finally, phase 1 of the renovation of our former volunteer fire station on 12th Street is complete. The following is a brief history. Two plus years ago the Orange County Fire Authority disbanded most of the volunteer fire crews, including Sunset Beach.

Thus our firehouse, long-time host to many Sunset Beach functions, was put up for sale.

Many Sunset Beach residents banded together to raise the money to purchase the station. However, the 60-year-old building was in serious need of a makeover.

Our largest donors for the purchase of the structure, Dr. Anthony Nobles and Rhonda Nobles, stepped up once again to guarantee the basic remodel. Although there were many generous donations and fundraisers, the Nobles family contributed more than all of our other funding sources combined. For this reason this addition to our Community Center has been named the “Nobles Family Community Building.” The wish list is still long concerning our ultimate facelift.

We still need to install the ADA kitchen and the bathrooms will be more durable when tile is installed. But starting tonight it will be the home of our Sunset Beach Community Association meetings. More importantly, it is ready for this year’s Art Festival taking place over Mother’s Day weekend.

It has been nearly two years since Sunset Beach was annexed by Huntington Beach. Most residents will agree that very little has changed in town. The few changes that have taken place are in the form of better services.

However, we have one major challenge that is the result of annexation. Our Local Coastal Plan needs to be approved by the California Coastal Commission. It originally was approved by them in 1990 and we hoped it would be approved again since so few changes were made in the new document.

However, there are new members on the Coastal Commission and times are different 23 years later. The Huntington Beach Planning Department is working in close association with Sunset Beach as they discuss issues of concern with the Coastal Commission staff.

Issues of concern to Sunset Beach do not stop at our border. The Southern California Air Quality Management District is considering banning campfires on the beach, in fire rings, as a result of complaints from residents in Newport Beach. Campfires on the beach are an iconic symbol of our Southern California beach culture.

Most of us have enjoyed a nighttime campfire on the sand with family or friends. Common sense suggests that fire rings too close to homes be removed. But fire rings far from homes such as those on Huntington Beach City and Bolsa Chica State Beaches should remain and be enjoyed by both visitors and locals.

For more information and to sign an on-line petition please visit www.SaveTheBonfireRings.com. You can also call the AQMD at (909) 396-2100 and give them your thoughts about the fire rings. While Sunset Beach still has some issues to be resolved, sometimes it’s good to step back and simply enjoy our funky, friendly, slightly Bohemian town.

Mike Van Voorhis is the president of the Sunset Beach Community Association.