Friday, June 5, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 14

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 15th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 11

Central Coast cities crack down on fireworks


With the Fourth of July approaching, some local cities are attempting to deter the widespread use of illegal fireworks and the use of legal fireworks outside of designated times.

Santa Maria is the most recent city to make changes after Arroyo Grande and Guadalupe amended their firework ordinances earlier this year. During the May 7 Santa Maria City Council meeting, Assistant City Attorney Jeffrey Patrick said the city receives numerous complaints from residents about neighbors using illegal fireworks throughout the year.

Santa Maria held several community meetings last year to gauge what changes residents would like to see in the city’s fireworks ordinance. The new rules that the City Council unanimously approved on May 7 reflects that input.

“The ordinance gives teeth to some of the things we already have on the municipal code and gives Santa Maria and its residents the tools to better enforce illegal fireworks when it occurs,” Patrick said during the meeting.

Under the city’s previous ordinances, residents could only file a complaint if two residents signed a declaration stating that they witnessed somebody using fireworks illegally. The amendment that City Council passed allows one individual to submit a complaint if the resident also submits proof of a violation, such as a video.

The council also adopted a provision that holds the owner of the property where somebody is using illegal fireworks accountable for the usage. Additionally, the amendment clarifies that the use of illegal fireworks can be charged as a misdemeanor or administrative citation.

Currently, the city can impose a $1,000 fine for a fireworks violation. The majority of the City Council expressed support for increasing that amount. Patrick said staff will look into whether such an increase is legally possible and will provide an answer at a future meeting.

“That would be encouraging to raise the penalty to above $1,000,” City Councilmember Etta Waterfield said. “Every year it’s getting worse, so we need to have some kind of incentive to discourage the illegal ones.”

The ordinance didn’t change when residents could use “safe and sane” fireworks—fireworks that California determines are legal. The city ordinance allows residents to use safe and sane fireworks on July 4 between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Guadalupe City Council passed an ordinance at its April 23 meeting that implements the same time frame. Previously, residents could use legal fireworks at other times in the year if residents obtained the proper licenses and permits.

Arroyo Grande City Council also approved an ordinance limiting the use of legal fireworks at its Feb. 12 meeting. Residents in Arroyo Grande can now only use safe and sane fireworks on July 4, whereas previously, legal fireworks could be used the day before and after the holiday as well.

Officials and residents from the three cities cite the increasing use of illegal fireworks and legal fireworks outside of designated times as the reason these changes are needed. During the Santa Maria City Council meeting, Louis Linney, a representative from TNT Fireworks, which sells safe and sane fireworks, said he believes the state is to blame for the increase in illegal fireworks.

“What’s happened to speed this up and make it worse [is] the state has walked away from its responsibility to control illegal fireworks,” Linney said.

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