On Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors are set to introduce a fireworks ordinance under the consent calendar in the incorporated areas of Contra Costa County that could lead to more fines for fireworks.
(UPDATE – on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved this item in Consent with a 5-0 vote)
Under the new ordinance, it would hold property owners responsible for fireworks. The person who organizes, supervises, sponsors, conducts, allows, controls or controls access to, the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge fireworks at a residence or private property.
Chapter 44-2 of the County Ordinance Code prohibits the possession, manufacture, sale, use, and discharge of fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the County. The Sheriff and fire departments in the County receive numerous calls for service each year stemming from illegal fireworks, including calls to address vegetation fires, structure and exterior fires, personal injury or death, and noise or other public nuisances.
The proposed ordinance would amend Chapter 44-2 and authorize the Sheriff to arrest and cite a responsible party, as defined in the ordinance, for violations of Chapter 44-2. The proposed ordinance establishes that a responsible party is required to maintain, manage, and supervise the property or vessel for which they are responsible to prevent violations of Chapter 44-2. A responsible party is liable and violates the prohibition on fireworks under Chapter 44-2 if any person possesses, manufactures, sells, offers to sell, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the property, or on the vessel, for which the responsible party is responsible, regardless of whether the responsible party is present when the violation occurs.
The proposed ordinance defines a responsible party as any of the following:
- A person that owns, rents, leases, or otherwise has possession of, or is in immediate control of, a residence or other private property or a vessel.
- A person that organizes, supervises, sponsors, conducts, allows, controls, or controls access to, the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge of fireworks at a residence or other private property or on a vessel.
If a residence or other private property is rented or leased for a period of more than 30 consecutive days, the landlord or lessor is not a responsible party unless the landlord or lessor: has possession of, or is in immediate control of, the residence or other private property; or has knowledge of the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge of fireworks at the residence or other private property.
The owner of a residence that is rented for a period of 30 consecutive days or less (a short-term rental) is a responsible party and is liable for violations of Chapter 44-2 if the short-term renter, or any other person, possesses, manufactures, sells, offers to sell, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the residence, regardless of whether the owner of the short-term rental is present when the violation occurs.
If approved, the ordnance would only apply to unincorporated areas of the county, however, they anticipate many cities may follow suite and approve a similar ordinance for within city limits.
The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District announced Thursday that they won an appeal which will result in a Discovery Bay resident being fined $26,325 for a large scale firework show.
According to the District, they were advised of an illegal fireworks show that had taken place the July 4, 2020 holiday in Discovery Bay California. An investigation pursued and revealed a large-scale show of a little over 500 fireworks had been fired the night of the 4th of July.
The District cited the resident $26,325.00.
Fire Marshal Steve Aubert stated, “With the District’s limited resources of only three stations available to respond to fires, our Prevention Division works to eliminate all potential fires within the District,” said Fire Marshal Steve Aubert.
President Brian Oftedal stated explained the District put out press releases and information discouraging fireworks.
“On June 25, 2020 the Fire District put out a press release urging everyone to avoid the temptation of putting yourself and your neighbors at risk and reminded the public that Contra Costa County is a firework free zone,” said Oftedal. “It is unfortunate that these warnings were blatantly ignored and that our community was placed at increased risk. I am hopeful that this incident will serve as an eye opener to our communities and discourages individuals from violating local and county ordinances in the future”.
All fireworks are illegal in Contra Costa County, and violators may be subject to criminal charges or citations if found to possess, manufacture, sell, use or discharge, or offer to do so, any fireworks (including “dangerous,” “safe and sane,” and other fireworks) as defined in or pursuant to Health and Safety Code Sections 12502 through 12504.