Council OKs lifting ban on fireworks' sales

Council majority dismisses advice from police, fire chiefs, voting 5-2 to allow 'safe-and-sane' displays.

January 18, 2012|By Mona Shadia

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Tuesday to lift the ban on the usage and sale of so-called "safe-and-sane fireworks" during the Fourth of July holiday for a trial period of two years, despite strong opposition from the police and fire chiefs and dozens of residents who spoke in opposition.

The council approved the ordinance with a 5-2 vote, with Councilwoman Connie Boardman and Councilman Joe Shaw dissenting.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can ... to repeal it," Boardman said.

Mayor Don Hansen introduced the proposal as his first item on the list as mayor and said he wanted Huntington Beach residents to enjoy the tradition of fireworks just like neighboring cities that allow it.

The ordinance was drafted with strict guidelines in an effort to minimize fire risks. Fireworks will not be allowed in city beaches, parks, environmentally sensitive areas, everything on the ocean-facing side of Pacific Coast Highway, the specific downtown business area and all streets except sidewalks and alleys in residential districts.


Boardman said the guidelines are likely to confuse some residents and especially the nearly half a million visitors who flock to Huntington Beach on the Fourth of July.

Hansen said there will be an educational component with the ordinance and signs letting people know they cannot use fireworks.

Huntington's police and fire departments have said they are already stretched thin during the Fourth of July holiday and the lift will be an added hurdle.

Fires related to so-called safe-and-sane fireworks have drastically been reduced since the city banned fireworks in 1987, following an Orange County Grand Jury report that recommended a countywide ban.

It all seemed to come down, however, to opposing ideologies on the council.

"This is an issue about people having choices," Councilman Matthew Harper said.

Resident Tim Geddes spoke in opposition to lifting the ban and also pointed out a trend of recent decisions made by the council, including the density in downtown and the overdevelopment of the Edinger Street corridor.

"It is failure of some of our decision-makers and planners to adequately assess the public safety impact of the moves they make," he said.

There were a few who spoke in favor of fireworks, including Maria Toner, secretary of Edison High School's Band Boosters, who said selling fireworks will help with needed fundraising for sports teams.

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