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The great Alhambra fireworks debate

Alhambra City Council is considering a ban on the sale of "Safe and Sane" fireworks next year. The reason given is some residents say they are a hazard and are worried about safety and noise. But others say they are a source of joy and that nonprofit groups who run the firework stands depend on fireworks for funds. About 25% of respondents to a poll Alhambra Source first posted in April supported a ban; the other 75% said keep them. (The percentages reflect 126 responses as of August 22. If you have not already, you can weigh in on the poll which is posted below). The proposition, brought up last spring, was put on hold until the Council could get both sides to represent themselves. In the meantime, two Alhambra Source community contributors, C.S. Candida and Taro Takeoka, advocate for opposing sides of the debate.

BAN THEM: "Safe and Sane" fireworks? Not likely! | By C.S. Candida

The sun goes down on the Fourth of July and Alhambra’s firework madness begins. Those colorful, cacophonous bombs of red, white, and blue burst in the air to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the crowd at Almansor Park.

When I choose to skip this annual event because of the crowd and noise factors, I am still unfortunately bombarded with the “safe and sane” fireworks sold before the holiday, during the holiday, and after the holiday from stands in the 7-Eleven parking lot across the street from my home. This can be quite nerve-racking for the people and the dogs living on my block. Sure, when I look up into the night sky, I can see the colorful red, white, and blue displays. But I am also inundated by the sounds and smells of these street fireworks. It would not be so bad if those setting them off would follow the rules and explode them on the day of the holiday, but they do not.

Pasadena Star-News reported that back in April the Alhambra City Council was considering the “safety risks even legal fireworks pose,” and that the City’s fire chief also agreed that these “safe and sane” fireworks “pose a safety and fire hazard in the community and require additional police and fire resources.”

How many children are setting off these fireworks, and what happens if one should land in dry brush or on a roof? Remember that old saying, “What goes up must come down?” Add this to the noise factor and what I have is a long night of “Can’t these people tell time, it’s after 11 o’clock!” or “Can’t anyone read a calendar, the holiday hasn’t started yet!”

So what am I asking?  That the City of Alhambra considers banning the sale of fireworks before next Fourth of July.

Photo by Derek Key via Flickr.KEEP FIREWORKS LEGAL: The Joy of Sparklers | By Taro Takeoka 

For the first time this year, I stood behind the fireworks counter at the stand in front of Smart & Final on Main and Hidalgo. As a member of the Rotary Club of San Gabriel Valley New Generation, I volunteered to sell fireworks. The week-long sale is one of our biggest fundraising activities and we are grateful for this opportunity to boost funds for our club which we plan to return to the SGV through local school and youth programs and community service.

We’re not alone. For the 15 non-profit organizations, churches and schools that maintain stands in Alhambra, the sales can raise $10,000-20,000. Other local non-profit groups, such as Alhambra High School Band Boosters, also depend on the funds raised by fireworks sales. In the past, they used the funds raised from firework sales to fill the gaps caused by budget cuts in the school music program, repairing instruments and restoring uniforms. All Souls Church Youth Ministry relies on firework sales to fund youth-based programs.I understand the nuisance and safety concerns over my neighbors lighting up exploding firecrackers and fireworks that go airborne, which are illegal to sell or possess in California. Since cases of illegal fireworks are going up year-to-year, this is evidence that supply and flow of illegal fireworks into our community is rising. But proposing a ban to address the complaints of noise overreaches too far into infringing our liberties, and has not even been proven to be effective according to statistics from neighboring cities.

To see the children's faces light up with excitement when their parents bought them fireworks reaffirmed my belief that some things are worth preserving. Having lived in the San Gabriel Valley my entire life, I have fond childhood memories of the time spent with my family and remember the excitement of having our own little fireworks show.  I think it's important that we preserve this freedom so my daughter will one day have memories of the simple joy of waving her own sparklers in our home town.

We're interested in hearing from you. Do you think fireworks should be banned from 4th of July celebrations in Alhambra?

Should July 4th fireworks be made illegal in Alhambra?

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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4 thoughts on “The great Alhambra fireworks debate”

  1. Banning the sale of these fireworks may not address the most important issues: (a) the use of illegal fireworks; and (b) the city’s failure to enforce its own laws. A few years ago, I called the police department about my neighbor lighting roman candles and was told to call the fire department. The fire department asked where the fire was. My neighbor set off roman candles and similar fireworks for a few more hours. I didn’t bother calling the following year. I’d like to know how a ban on the sale of safe and sane fireworks would eliminate the use of illegal fireworks and improve the city’s enforcement regime.

    Perhaps, the city could increase the cost of its firework stand permits to cover its increased enforcement costs.

  2. It would be interesting to determine who the majority of the 75% who voted No on banning would be revieled & I can bet that they were members & friends of the non-profits that use fireworks to raise funds; I can bet they got together & made sure all their members & friends voted No. But I also like Mr Baltazar's idea that city council should stop charging fees for youth non-profit groups for use of city fields/schools – maybe then all would agree to stop firework sales…something worth considering.


  3. I'm concerned about the use of illegal fireworks in Alhambra (and adjacent Monterey Park). This year (2012), the noise of loud explosions coming from all around the two cities was out of control, and I didn't hear police sirens rushing to stop what sounded like illegal-grade fireworks. My family stayed in this year because we didn't feel safe to go outside — the smoke alone was irritating. The use of illegal fireworks is dangerous and their unauthorized use should be more strictly enforced. Which leads me to ask, if legal fireworks were banned in Alhambra — and I think they should be — what good would it do if the use of illegal fireworks is not sufficiently enforced?

    Karla Alvarado

  4. Its very easy to sit behind a council table and decide the fate for non profit organizations & others who depend on non city fundraising. If the city wants to band fireworks then they should band permits & fees that youth organizations have to pay to use city fields/schools!!!!!!
    Gilbert Baltazar jr.