Under fire for comparing the smoke from beach bonfires to aerial views of carpet-bombing during the Vietnam War, William A. Burke has resigned from the state Coastal Commission, according to news reports.
The move follows complaints from two state legislators that Burke's position on the coastal panel conflicted with his role as chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California's anti-smog agency, according to a story in the Orange County Register.
The AQMD is angling to ban beach fire rings throughout Southern California, an idea supported by Newport Beach officials but opposed by Huntington Beach and San Clemente bigwigs. The state Coastal Commission has also been involved in the debate, but has held off action while the AQMD weighs in.
Assemblyman Allan Mansoor of Costa Mesa, who supports beach fire fits, said Burke resigned from the wrong board.
"I'm glad that Mr. Burke agrees with us that there is a conflict of interest, but his resignation from the Coastal Commission does not resolve it," Mansoor told The Register. "The law is clear ... that the appropriate remedy for a conflict like this is the forfeiture of the oldest office. Since Mr. Burke's most recent appointment was to the Coastal Commission, he should, by law, resign from AQMD instead. I urge him to do so, and continue to look forward to the official opinion from the Attorney General."
Earlier this month, Burke raised eyebrows by likening bonfire smoke in Newport Beach to wartime bombing. As reported in OCWeekly, he said: "The aerial view of Newport Beach fire rings looks like a carpet bombing then, I'm telling you," Burke said. "Now,that had gone from my mind maybe 20 to 30 years ago, but I looked at the aerial photograph and I thought, 'Oh my god, this is Vietnam revisited.' "