The legality of "safe and sane" fireworks, approved by a close vote last spring, may be challenged again at the Lompoc City Council meeting Oct. 15.
The Lompoc Fire Department and the Lompoc Police Department filed a report to the council requesting that if the sale of safe and sane fireworks cannot be reconsidered, then the Council should discuss amending the municipal code regulating several aspects of their sale and permit distributions.
The City Council legalized the sale and use of safe and sane fireworks in a 3-2 vote May 7. Eighteen people spoke on the topic that day, and most opposed legalizing the fireworks.
The city allows permits for sales to be issued to six local nonprofit organizations, and a total of 37 applied for the permits last year in a lottery, said Fire Chief Kurt Latipow. The fire department recommended that two of the six permits go to the Lompoc Unified School District Community Education Foundation so that the schools can continue receiving funding through the organization.
The staff also recommended that a 5-percent surcharge on sales of the fireworks be collected, Latipow said. The nonprofit groups that sold fireworks recorded a total net profit of about $59,000, and the fireworks wholesaler TNT recorded a profit of about $60,000.
“I am fully expecting the fireworks wholesalers to disagree with the recommendations,” Latipow said. “And that's OK.”
The staff report included statistics of the police and fire departments' activities during the July 4 holiday. Latipow said the use of illegal fireworks increased and officers were unable to cite many people who used them. Compared to the 2012 holiday, the Lompoc Police Department's dispatch center received a 400 percent increase in calls related to fireworks.
“We were so busy that we stopped to get ready to write a citation, and within less than half a block, three or four other discharges would be going off,” Latipow said. “As someone told me, it was 'out of control.'”
The profit from the first year of the safe and sane fireworks also hurt the community fireworks show, according to the report. The show cost about $30,000 to put on, but only received $17,000 in revenue. Attendance was down by about 33 percent and the city's goals for the show were not met, said Councilman Bob Lingl.
Lingl, who voted against legalizing the fireworks in the spring, also pointed out that the expenses during the holiday exceeded what the city expected and both the fire and police department workers had to be paid overtime that day.
“We did not adequately reimburse the city for the amount of time put in,” Lingl said.
He said the City Council may or may not vote on the continued legality of safe and sane fireworks.
“There were both legal and illegal fireworks going off all over our community,” Lingl said. “I know many people have indicated it was like driving through a war zone.”
Other items on the council’s agenda include:
• The creation of a Lompoc Tourism Improvement District, with the intention of increasing the revenue of local hotels.
• A discussion on the city’s implementation of a renewable energy resources procurement plan.