City and tourism officials expressed guarded optimism Thursday morning when three significant donations toward funding beach fire pits were presented at a Mission Bay media conference.
A total of 186 fire pits, including 154 in Mission Bay, require maintenance funding.
The three oversized, Golf Tournament-type checks contributed $64,500, but private donors must raise about $120,000 for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The city has agreed to pay the remainder of the approximate $150,000 total pit cost, an official said.
“We’re well on our way; we’re over halfway there,” said Phyllis Pfeiffer, chair of the La Jolla Community Foundation, which assisted with $4,500. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t need additional support. We’re asking San Diegans and interested parties to get involved and to make a donation to help save our fire pits.”
The San Diego Foundation presented the highest donation with $35,000, and the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau added $25,000.
Officials said they are working toward finding a permanent solution to finance the beach fire pits, which Mayor Sanders said he cut in the budget in favor of libraries, police officers and firefighters.
Sanders thanked the donors while speaking “on behalf of the families and visitors who value the crackling of a campfire and the taste of toasted marshmallows,” he said.
“This is something that’s a true community issue,” Sanders said, ”and I think the community is stepping up to handle it, and that’s the way it should be done. But as we start working our way out of this, I think you’ll see this cease to be an issue, but I think it’ll be in a couple years.”
The San Diego Foundation is accepting donations online.