Sentinel staff report–
Following an “overwhelming” number of fireworks calls last year, the Citrus Heights Police Department is requesting the City Council make a temporary ordinance passed last year permanent.
The urgency ordinance passed in June last year and bans the discharging of legal fireworks between the hours of 11 p.m. and 9 a.m., as well as allowing for “social hosts” of locations where fireworks are discharged to be cited. The ordinance also details a $750 penalty for violations and $1,000 fines for repeat violations, as well as requiring all fireworks stands to post a notice about the new ordinance.
As a last-minute urgency ordinance passed just prior to the Fourth of July last year, the law was only in effect for 45 days and then extended for a maximum of 10 months and 15 days. It is now set to expire on June 23, prompting the Police Department to recommend the City Council make the ordinance permanent with a formal vote at the upcoming meeting on April 14.
Previously, authorities have only been able to cite the person who actually discharged an illegal firework, whereas hosts of events where fireworks are discharged can now be cited. Police said officers in the past have often been unable to document sufficient evidence to prove who actually ignited the firework, making the “social host” regulations a useful tool for cracking down on illegal fireworks.
Hosts are defined as owners of private property, or “any person who has the right to use, possess, or occupy public or private property under a lease, permit, license, rental agreement, or contract; or any person who hosts, organizes, supervises, officiates, conducts, or accepts responsibility for a gathering on public or private property.”
The ordinance specifies that a host does not need to have been present at the event in order to be deemed responsible for response costs, stating: “This chapter therefore imposes vicarious as well as direct liability upon a responsible person.”
Additionally, the ordinance says repeat violators “may be liable for response costs incurred in responding to the unpermitted discharge or illegal storage of fireworks.” Response costs are defined as “those reasonable and necessary costs directly incurred by public safety personnel for a response to an unpermitted discharge or illegal storage of fireworks,” including salaries and benefits paid to public safety employees.
Hosts are also exempt from responsibility if they initiate contact with police or fire officials “to assist in removing any person from the property or terminating the activity in order to comply with this chapter” as long as the request was made prior to a complaint being lodged about illegal fireworks.
Fireworks labeled “safe and sane” are not banned by the ordinance and would continue to be able to be bought, sold and discharged in Citrus Heights.
The council will consider permanently adopting the ordinance on April 14. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, with participation via Zoom also allowed.
Sentinel staff report--
Following an "overwhelming" number of fireworks calls last year, the Citrus Heights Police Department is requesting the City Council make a temporary ordinance passed last year permanent.
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