Alhambra organizations came out in force to object to a ban on the sale of fireworks that was considered at a City Council meeting on Monday evening.
Eileen Flores, a 20-year-Alhambra resident and Alhambra High School band coordinator, spoke for many when she said that the firework stands are a major fundraising opportunity for non-profit groups, ranging from the Knights of Columbus, Little League, to high school football and wrestling programs. Representatives of these groups said that selling fireworks contributed 50 – 85% of their annual budget, and that its absence would jeopardize programs and equipment for area youth.
Mayor Luis Ayala was perplexed at how so many organizations could be so dependent on the sale of fireworks. Some cited the recession from 2008 as an ongoing reason, as parents have less disposable income to spend on activities for their children. Others said the traditional fundraisers of selling chocolates don’t work as well as they used to, and they often don’t raise enough funds needed to run the youth programs.
Councilman Gary Yamauchi said that he felt that the presentations only represented one side of the issue, and wanted to hear from those who have complained to him about safety and noise issues. City Manager Julio Fuentes, after assuring that no action would be taken impacting this year’s fireworks booths, proposed a full-level discussion on this issue in the summer (promoted through all available local media outlets). Councilman Steven Placido emphasized the need for both sides to be present at that meeting, and invited all the organizations in the room to come back.
“To be continued,” said Mayor Ayala.