A Pacifica tradition since 1961, fireworks sold prior to the Fourth of July benefit many nonprofit organizations that run the TNT Safe and Sane fireworks booths around town. But in an age of increasing wildfire risk, some are questioning that tradition.
The debate about whether to keep fireworks sales seems to come up every year on the City Council agenda. The City Council took up the issue on Monday with the annual report from Police Chief Dan Steidle. The Tribune will report the outcome of that debate in the next week.
Many in Pacifica look forward to fireworks season. Neighbors and families gather on Pacifica streets after dark to set off their locally purchased fireworks and admire others up and down the block. Illegal fireworks create quite a spectacular show but are also the source of many complaints. Pet owners told City Council it frightened their animals. Some residents sensitive to noise complained they have to leave town every Fourth of July. Recent ordinances make it easier for the Pacifica Police Department to find and charge a property owner with setting off illegal fireworks.
The sale of the legal “Safe and Sane” fireworks is considered vital to many nonprofit organizations that sell them. Many representatives spoke at City Council meetings to say they have no alternative to that revenue.
Last year, City Council directed staff to find out more about how the community and the nonprofit groups feel about potentially banning the fireworks sales entirely, Steidle wrote in his staff report for the meeting. That included using the Flash Vote tool to gauge opinions about fireworks sales and gain a better understanding from the nonprofit groups about their revenue situations.
The nonprofit groups that replied said they had no other source of income, Steidle wrote. The unscientific community survey showed 19 percent more respondents favored keeping the sales rather than banning them, Steidle wrote. Historically, Pacifica voters approved ballot measures supporting fireworks sales in 1983 and 1996.
A recent study session concluded with an ordinance allowing fireworks on a small section of Linda Mar Beach and in two public parking lots, the South Rockaway Beach (surfers Lot) parking lot and the Linda Mar Beach Pump Station parking lot. That
was an attempt to get a handle on litter as a result of fireworks. The nonprofit groups that sell fireworks must spend 10 hours cleaning the beaches and do another 10 hours of cleanup with a Pacific Beach Coalition event.
Wildfires in Northern California have increased the discussion of fire risk from fireworks, Steidle said.