City officials spent over $5,000 on firework education materials this year, but some in Santa Maria say save your money – no one is listening.
A large group took to the podium at Tuesday’s City Council meeting demanding action. They want officials to take a firmer stance on fireworks.
“Safe and Sane” fireworks are legal for 12 hour period within city limits on Independence Day. Beyond that, you could face a fine of $1,000 fine, but an officer would have to witness the violation.
Fourth of July firework remnants may already be swept up, but the damage is done.
“It was the worst I’ve ever seen it, and I grew up in Santa Maria, and I’ve never seen it like it was this past 4th of July,” said Wanda McDonald, an active member of Santa Maria’s Citizens for Zero Tolerance of Illegal Fireworks Group.
Aside from the health impacts to pets and vets, McDonald says the excessive use of illegal pyrotechnics terrorize her neighborhood.
“This community, law enforcement, and our city leaders are not doing their jobs, something needs to be done,” said McDonald.
McDonald joins a growing number of concerned community members urging the Santa Maria City Council to ban both illegal and Safe and Sane fireworks.
“There are people breaking the law. It’s a joke to them, they know that nothing is going to happen because it has been said that it is low priority for law-enforcement,” said McDonald.
Council Member Etta Waterfield agrees that this is an issue that needs to addressed
“I truly believe stronger enforcement, maybe that incentive of the higher fines, will go a long ways with everybody working together,” said Waterfield.
However, Waterfield says the council will likely face a dilemma when looking at the 24 non-profit groups that sell Safe and Sane explosives.
“Do we cut them all out and the non-profits don’t have an opportunity to raise funds, and sometimes this is their only fundraiser they have?” said Waterfield.
While folks like McDonald are calling for something on the ballot, some Santa Maria residents say a ban across the board, would make them sad.
“It doesn’t make sense to me to punish the people who are following the law and abiding the law and do like the little spinners and poppers. I don’t see why there’s any reason to blame them and punish them for following the law,” said Destiny Cuevas of Santa Maria.
Police Chief Phil Hansen says SMPD received over 450 calls on July 4th including 338 calls for service. One person was arrested for fireworks, and one citation was issued.
Fire Chief Leonard Champion said they responded for 30 incidents over the holiday, an amount he says is slightly higher than the daily average.
Waterfield says the City Council will most likely put this issue on the agenda so they can have a discussion and problem solving ideas.