Originally published May 2, 2011 at 6 a.m., updated May 2, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
SAN DIEGO A recent ad promoting California zooms in on state landmarks: redwoods, wineries and .. hold on ... what’s that? It’s a San Diego fire pit, surrounded by two women and musician Jason Mraz all enjoying a crackling blaze. Mraz cradles his guitar in front of the fire, smiles and asks, “You wanna know the truth about California?”
A star is born, the fire pit that is. And you can’t cut something that’s so famous, can you? A group of San Diego boosters hopes not. The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the San Diego Foundation and the county’s Hotel/Motel Association are joining with Councilman Kevin Faulconer to try and save San Diego's 186 fire pits. They cost $150,000 a year to maintain. The mayor has recommended eliminating that money in the coming budget to help address a $57 million deficit.
The city was considering the same thing last year and was able to keep the pits through donations from the San Diego Foundation, the La Jolla Community Foundation and money from the offices of Faulconer and Councilwoman Sherri Lightner.
Namara Mercer is executive director of the San Diego County Hotel Motel/Association. She said the coalition wants to settle the issue for good.
“We want to have a long-term, public-private partnership,” she said, “which will include corporate sponsorships, to take care of this for future years.”
Mercer said the fire pits exemplify the beach experience in San Diego. That’s a message the groups are trying to spread. The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has heavily featured the pits in advertising campaigns.
Mercer said private citizens are able donate to the cause as well. However, a similar grassroots effort last year netted just about $2,900.