10-19-23

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Every June, makeshift booths pop up throughout Seaside with colorful signs that indicate whatever it is they’re selling goes boom, hiss, pop! Theoretically, that ignition is “safe and sane”— as legal fireworks are euphemistically described, regardless of whether they might drive a neighbor, or their pets, insane. It’s a tradition that goes back decades in the city, and while there are recurring complaints from scores of residents, there are also vocal, civically active residents who staunchly support the sale of legal fireworks in the city, as they are a fundraising source for local, youth-serving nonprofits. Meanwhile, the issue of illegal fireworks persists. The Monterey County Civil Grand Jury, after investigating a complaint from a Seaside resident about yearround use of explosive fireworks “and a perceived indifference by city officials to the issue,” published a report in May that took Seaside to task for its handling of fireworks, but mostly included deficiencies in the city’s website in terms of disclosing public information. A lack of Spanish in many parts of the website was called out, as the city’s population is roughly 45-percent Latino. The report did note, however, that Seaside officers confiscated 100 pounds of illegal fireworks around July 4, 2022, up from 30 pounds in 2020. And it was during 2020, when most people were homebound due to the pandemic, that momentum started to shift—in August of that year, Seaside City Council passed an ordinance banning the sale and use of so-called “safe and sane” fireworks in the city. But an organized group quickly sprung up to gather enough signatures to force the City Council to repeal the ordinance or send the matter to an election. Alex Miller, who was elected to Seaside City Council in 2022, recalls seeing the petition at the time. “When the petition was presented to me, it was like, ‘Do you support kids? Do you support nonprofits?’ It was not even clear to me it was a fireworks issue until I read it.” But there wasn’t enough time for the city to get it onto the November ballot, which meant the City Council either had to rescind the ordinance or approve spending well over $100,000 on an election. On Nov. 5, 2020, the council chose the former. A city report from that time states, “The issue of fireworks has been agendized for discussion by the City Council 40 times over the last five years. A strategy to maximize participation in the ultimate decision while minimizing costs would be to add this item to the November 2022 ballot. Voter turnout is significantly higher during a general municipal election.” That didn’t happen, but Miller still wants a vote. At a Thursday, Oct. 19 council meeting, he plans to ask if at least two other councilmembers will agree to consider putting the issue of making all fireworks illegal in the city on the November 2024 ballot. A citizen’s group, Seaside Association for a Fireworks Election (SAFE) is already coalescing toward that goal, with or without the council—the latter requires gathering signatures. Boom Town Fireworks are an annual fixture around Fourth of July in Seaside, but do its residents still want them? By David Schmalz Safe-and-sane fireworks go off low to the ground and are permitted in Seaside. Illegal fireworks, however, regularly go off in city skies in the weeks leading up to and after the Fourth of July. NEWS “The issue has been agendized 40 times over five years.” DANIEL DREIFUSS ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES Stop By To Shop And Find Your Vintage Treasure OVER 100 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M canneryrowantiquemall.com Open Daily 11am-6pm ’23 Voted Monterey County's Best Antique Shop ♦ 3 Card Poker ♠ Century 21st No Bust Black Jack ♣ Texas Hold’em ♥ Baccarat FULL BAR! BLACKJACK BONUS POINTS PAYS UP TO $20,000 SMALL TOWN BIG PAYOUTS! 1-800-Gambler • Gega-003846, Gega-Gega-003703, Gega-000889 Gega-000891 Gega-002838 The Marina Club Casino ensures the safety and security of all guests and team members at all times, while providing exceptional service. 204 Carmel Ave. Marina 831-384-0925 casinomonterey.com ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ Just minutes from Downtown Monterey Where Monterey Comes To Play

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