Citing “an increase in certain activities posing risks to public safety and the environment occurring in the vicinity of the beach and Santa Monica Pier, including the use of combustible fuels on the Santa Monica Pier,” City Council is set to discuss a new rule to prohibit not only the unpermitted use but the unpermitted possession of combustible fuel in close proximity to the historic structure.

If enacted, the ordinance update would build upon a previous ordinance enacted in August 2021 that outlawed the use of combustible fuels on or in close proximity to the Pier without first obtaining a permit from the Fire Marshal.

The proposed ordinance update suggests an administrative citation involving a $250 fine for violating the prohibition on a first violation, with the fine amount doubling to $500 for the second violation (within one calendar year) and a $1,000 fine for the third or subsequent violation within that year. Violators may also be charged with an infraction punishable by up to $500 or a misdemeanor, carrying a $500 fine and/or a County jail sentence of up to six months behind bars.

Council is set to discuss the ordinance change — an update to Emergency Ordinance No. 2681 — during the Tuesday, Feb. 22, City Council meeting.

Prohibited fuels include — but are not limited to — “propane, butane, any other liquid gas, kerosene, sterno, charcoal or wood on the Pier (including the Pier Bridge) or within 25 feet of the Pier,” according to Council documents. However, there are some exceptions, such as for relatively small amounts of fuel (tanks less than 150 milliliters), the gas and oil in your car’s tank and engine, and charcoal and firewood not being used for combustion on or near the Pier.

That means if you drive a car with a bag of charcoal near the Pier, you aren’t in danger of violating the rule — but if you’re piling up the charcoal in a barbecue grill on the Pier deck, you may find yourself slapped with a fine.

In addition, the proposed ordinance would allow the City to impound the fuel and tank, which the City may then dispose of.

According to a staff report prepared for the Tuesday meeting, more Pier vendors than ever have been seen using combustible fuel, even after the use of such materials was banned six months ago. Staff wrote they feared the unpermitted use of fuel on the wooden structure could lead to an explosion or fire.

“This continues to create a significant public health and safety risk, even when fuel is not being used. If, for instance, a fuel tank comprised of pressurized liquified petroleum gas (e.g., a hydrocarbon gas, such as propane, propylene, butane, isobutane, butylene, or a combination thereof) is not stored properly or is handled improperly, the fuel tank can leak or explode,” staff wrote. “A leak of a fuel tank containing liquified petroleum gas is potentially dangerous because the gas is highly flammable and heavier than air. Once released it can travel distances and make its way into enclosures where it can cause a fire or explosion away from its source.”

The proposed ordinance update appears as item 7A on the Tuesday, Feb. 22, Santa Monica City Council agenda. The virtual meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m., may be watched live on CityTV cable channel 16 or streamed on YouTube at youtube.com/user/Citytv16santamonica.

If you want to provide public comment on a particular agenda item, you can call by phone at (310) 312-8173 when the caller queue opens for the agenda item on which you wish to comment.

emily@smdp.com