Twenty years ago, the city tried to tamp down on illegal bottle rockets and firecrackers leading up to Fourth of July festivities. It seems downright quaint compared to the aerial shells people now fire off during the summer months.
A handful of city leaders want to hike up penalties for illegal fireworks, given that complaints and injuries are becoming increasingly common. Current law allows fines of up to $1,000 and jail time, but that only sticks after criminal prosecution.
In a memo submitted to this week’s Rules and Open Government Committee, council members Sam Liccardo, Pete Constant, Johnny Khamis and Rose Herrera ask the city to explore the idea of increasing administrative fines for illegal fireworks. That would give public works and non-police staff the authority to levy fines for violations of the fireworks ordinance.
“The month-long use of illegal fireworks every summer has long drawn the ire of many residents, particularly in neighborhoods characterized by more vulnerable older, wood-frame houses, and with many pet owners,” the shared memo states.
City staff fielded more than 2,000 calls between June and July related to illegal fireworks. And many people this year were hurt. In San Jose this summer, a 10-year-old boy mangled his hand and three men blew off their fingers.
According to this memo, people buy massive amounts of illegal fireworks online and have them shipped by independent truckers.
“Statewide, use of illegal fireworks has increased in many cities due to the sheer increase in quantity and accessibility of illegal products, and because of the lack of any credible threat posed by their illegal use,” the report says, citing an industry newsletter.
“[W]ith arrests happening very rarely, it currently appears impossible to deter the behavior,” their shared memo states. “As criminologist James Q. Wilson observed, the severity of a penalty does far less to deter harmful conduct than the certainty and swiftness of that penalty.”
- The city’s federal lobbyists, retained through Squire Patton Boggs for $40,000 a quarter, will present their mid-year report. (On a related note: San Jose Inside will meet with these lobbyists on Thursday. Feel free to leave questions you’d like us to ask them in the comments section.)
- The circus is coming to town, and so are animal rights protesters. In a pair of letters to the Rules Committee, they ask San Jose to boycott the Ringling Bros. Circus and include reminders of their past violations for animal cruelty.
- David Wall wonders if the “spineless, wimpy, crybaby infested Council” will clean up St. James Park and who really stands to gain from a new music pavilion.
- San Jose aims to join the League of California Cities in a resolution asking Gov. Jerry Brown to address the “devastating environmental impacts” of illegal marijuana grows.
- San Jose plans to take no position on a proposed state medical marijuana bill. SB 1262, by Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), would regulate doctors, collectives, cultivation sites and processing facilities.
WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260