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sayno End the Fireworks Nightmare in Azusa

Azusa has a terrible problem with illegal fireworks. Every year, starting in early to mid June and building to a climax on July 4, our normally peaceful neighborhoods turn into hellish war zones. M-80s exploding, rockets bursting over our heads, firecrackers sounding like machine gun fire. Smoke everywhere. It's absolutely crazy. And it's getting worse every year.

The fireworks problem is brought about by at least two primary factors: One, for years the city leadership has virtually ignored the problem and turned a blind eye to the blatantly lawless discharge of illegal fireworks throughout the city. Two, the sale and discharge of legal fireworks in a city fosters an environment in which the illegal fireworks thrive.

Finally the city council responded to the barrage of complaints and decided to put a measure on the ballot to ban fireworks. (See my Measure M speech of 12-16-02.) Even though the city council recognized the nightmare of illegal fireworks and knew that real solution is to ban all fireworks, none of the council members, expect Dick Stanford, were willing to get behind the measure. On March 4, 2003, the voters of Azusa narrowly defeated Measure M, which would have banned the so called safe and sane fireworks. The fireworks industry spent more than $300,000 to defeat the measure.

At the next council meeting, I graciously acknowledged the defeat and offered some practical suggestions for dealing with the fireworks problem in light of the continued sale of the legal ones. At the heart of my recommendations was to create a taskforce to actively pursue and implement solutions. But the council and city did virtually nothing. Two months before July 4, 2004, I again appeared before the city council urging them to take some kind of action to combat illegal fireworks. Going into July 4th, the Azusa PD did step up and stiffen its enforcement, and the city did at least some efforts in public information. However, July 4, 2004 was horrible. In my 15 years of living in Azusa, I had never seen it so bad.

On July 5, I spent the day drafting a (12-point plan to deal with illegal fireworks in Azusa.) and presented it at the council meeting on July 6.

On the September 20, 2004 council meeting, the council addressed the issue of illegal fireworks and decided rather than creating a dedicated taskforce, to assign the task to the Park and Recreation Commission. At the commission meeting of October 7, 2004, council members Diane Chagnon and Joe Rocha presented the task to the commission to research the issue and bring recommendations to the council. The commission spent part of at least one of their twice-monthly meetings on the project. I attended each meeting where fireworks where addressed and was afforded the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

In the council meeting of May 16, the Parks Commission presented the recommendations in a PowerPoint titled, "Fireworks and the City of Azusa: A Blueprint for Information, Education, Accountability and Enforcement in 2005."

May 24, 2005 - Tribune Article: "Firework safety on Azusa 's agenda" by Marianne Love.

The council will continue to address the fireworks issue and strive to implement what they can before July 4.

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This page was last updated May 24, 2005.