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City of Santa Maria may make it easier to report illegal fireworks

Posted at 5:27 PM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-08 00:21:09-04

UPDATE (5/7/19) – The city council voted 5-0 to introduce revised illegal fireworks rules.

The proposal will be carried to the next meeting for a second reading and adoption.

It would take effect 30 days after that.

ORIGINAL STORY (5/6/19)- Santa Maria city leaders could decide to make it easier to report illegal firework use.

It’s part of an ordinance they will be revisiting during the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

A Santa Maria-based veterans group says these changes could help prevent veterans with PTSD from being triggered.

The way the ordinance is written now, it takes two witnesses to file a report about someone using fireworks illegally. On Tuesday, the council could decide to change that to a single witness with video evidence.

Fireworks and Fourth of July go hand-in-hand but when fireworks go off outside of designated times, that can make veterans in the community relive painful memories.

“It’s those late nights and those bigger than normal booms, they do trigger people and everyone’s affected differently,” explained Steve Baird, President of the Band of Brothers.

Baird is advocating for the city to change its illegal firework ordinance.

“I know they have signs that people post out but I really think it comes down to the responsibility of the user. Everybody’s out to enjoy it for what it is, but there’s always those people that take it to the next level. You’ve got injuries, fire departments that are on notification and they’re already busy doing other things,” Baird said.

Updating the ordinance on illegal firework use would potentially make it easier for people to make reports when they see or hear fireworks go off.

“The changes are going to be – do you want to make it from two witnesses to one with video evidence? Two – we would introduce the social host ordinance which would allow us to send the citation to the address where it occurred and hold the landlord or property owner liable, and third – do you want us to explore the “Nail ‘Em” application,” said Mark van de Kamp, City of Santa Maria Public Information Officer.

The “Nail ‘Em” app allows smartphone users to report illegal fireworks using photos and your phone’s GPS location. The complaint automatically gets routed to law enforcement or fire personnel.

Van de Kamp says it’s not often witnesses of illegal firework use come forward.

“Last year, nobody came forward with required two witnesses. We did make one citation independent of witnesses from the police department,” he explained.

The penalties for possessing and using illegal fireworks are as high as $1,000.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

The city says it plans on continuing its yearly fireworks display at Pioneer Valley High School to encourage people to not use illegal fireworks.