The stainless-steel grate cuts down on ash and provides a cleaner, and hotter, wood-burning fire. Laguna Beach City Council members voted to encourage homeowners to install the grates in their homes. (Earth's Flame / December 3, 2009)

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Residents who have wood-burning fireplaces will be encouraged to install grates intended to cut down on harmful pollutants, the Laguna Beach City Council voted at its Dec. 10 meeting.

The council stopped short of making the stainless-steel grates mandatory but unanimously favored urging residents to install the devices, which fit standard 36-by-42-inch fireplaces.

The grates reduce harmful emissions by 78% and provide up to 115% more heat, said Lisa Leighton, a Laguna Beach resident and chief executive of Corona-based Canterbury Enterprises, which manufactures fireplace parts.

Leighton helped develop a type of stainless-steel grate, Earth's Flame.

"Residents will save on healthcare costs, and the grates help reduce lung disease," Leighton told council members. "This is a solution that reduces carbon monoxide by 60%."

The council, as part of its vote, also directed the Planning Commission to provide input.

"I don't want to make it mandatory; it seems like everyone has wood-burning fireplaces," Mayor Elizabeth Pearson said.

Resident Ginger Osborne supported the optional grates, saying that she sees air pollution when she goes running.

"Recently, when it rained our car was clean, and then the next day, the car was covered with ash," Osborne said, citing smoke she saw from fireplaces the previous night. "This ash is what is going into my lungs. Anywhere we can encourage members of the community to do this retrofit or install gas-burning fireplaces is much improved over earlier versions, and this is one health-promoting effects we can institute in our city."

Anyone building a new home or demolishing and rebuilding a fireplace won't need the optional grates because they are required to use natural gas instead.

"If you build a new house, the fireplace has to have a natural-gas system," Community Development Director John Montgomery said. "If you remodel and propose to demolish an existing wood-burning fireplace, that again has to be a natural-gas system."

Homeowners with wood-burning fireplaces can install the stainless-steel grates, which cost $500 to $600, Leighton said.

Wood burns more quickly with the stainless-steel grate and cuts down on ash piling up on the bottom and up the sides of the chimney, she said.

Laguna Beach residents can receive a $100 discount and free delivery, Leighton added.

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City will look into quality of meals served to seniors

Rather than sign a five-year extension, the council voted for the city to discuss concerns raised with the food quality at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center, which provides meals and programs for seniors.

The council voted unanimously for an agreement among the city, Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. and Age Well Senior Services Inc. that will cover Jan. 1 through June 30, 2014.

Before the meeting, council members received comments from the public asking them to think twice about entering into a five-year agreement.

Age Well, a nonprofit that provides meal service to senior centers in several Orange County cities, has supplied food to the Susi Q since it opened in 2009.