Home Oakley Oakley City Council Approves Fireworks Ordinance and Increased Fines in 4-1 Vote

Oakley City Council Approves Fireworks Ordinance and Increased Fines in 4-1 Vote

by ECT

On Tuesday, the Oakley City Council agreed to approve an Urgency Ordinance that would increase the penalties on fireworks and hold “social hosts” accountable for firework discharges.

The council voted 4-1 in favor with Vice Mayor Randy Pope dissenting over language in the ordinance.

Under the new ordinance, the city does continue to prohibit manufacturing, sale, use or discharge of fireworks within the city, the fine now jumps to $1,000 per offense. The amendment now can fine a “social host”. The goal is to not only to prohibit discharge of fireworks, but hold homeowners or tenants responsible for the activities occurring at the residence. Other cities have found greater compliance with fireworks.

The prohibition on manufacture, use, and discharge of fireworks would be continued, but liability for such activities would be expanded to include property owners, tenants, or others in control of residences who allow such activities to occur on their properties. Fines would also be increased to $1,000 per violation, even for first violations.

Oakley City Attorney Derek Cole explained many cities have switched to this model as they have found while it may not eliminate all fireworks, over time they will achieve compliance while nothing has changed from the due process where a resident can appeal a fine.

Since it was an urgency ordinance, 4/5 of council needed to approve so that its not a two-step process, it could go in effect immediately.

Chief  Dean Capelletti said his prior agency had the same ordinance and it was used as a tool to reduce fireworks. He explained they would begin outreach and already have 72-people on a list who they have identified as offenders.

The chief was also planning for the July 4 Holiday to tackle not only crime, but fireworks.

Councilmember Aaron Meadows stated the issue wasn’t just July 4, but an everyday issue in Oakley. He sought further clarification on “social host” and how it was determined who would receive the fine.

Capelletti explained the decision was often made in the field but sometimes could be a lengthy process.

“I am not opposed to strengthen the ordinance, because there is a problem,” said Meadows. “I do have a problem, its known I am a landlord and I do property management. I guess we are responsible for some of our tenants but I cant be there monitoring them all the time. The landlord gets hit with a $1k fine, we pass it on to the tenant, we can’t evict them.”

Cole stated the landlord who has no connection, they couldn’t cite person because they themselves didn’t use, discharge, store, or sell—if someone owns property but not in possession, the city cannot cite them.

Councilmember George Fuller said it reminded him of drug sales because it then becomes a nuisance issue in terms of the crime/fine.

“Some people don’t get it,” stated Fuller who argued that people, dogs and others are impacted by fireworks.

Vice Mayor Pope admitted he loved the idea of making it easier on cops to chase down people lighting fireworks, including the $1k fine for the social host, but had issues with the language in the ordinance which included party poppers and sparklers.

“I don’t want our officers taking away sparklers from kids,” said Pope who added he didn’t want to issue a fine over a child using a sparkler.

Fuller responded by saying  he trusted police officers to make good decisions in the spirit of the law and would use good judgement if kids are using sparklers versus teenagers running after shooting off fireworks.

Fuller then made the motion which passed 4-1 with Pope dissenting.

Note
On Tuesday, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors also approved an amendment to the County Fireworks Ordinance — click here to read more.

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5 comments

LoveableCurmudgeon Jun 9, 2021 - 4:18 am

As if sparklers aren’t a fire hazard. All it takes is one kid tossing a sparkler into some dry grass. Then…..POOF! Off we go. I think will survive without holding a firestick in their grimy little hands

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Joscelyn Reed Jun 14, 2021 - 1:35 pm

Indeed, sparklers most definitely can start fires on dry grass or weeds! You want kids to learn to get away from any type of fireworks. Grow up seeing what starting with sparklers and the moving on to the larger stuff can do to a community! From sparklers to M1000?

I thought ALL fireworks were ILLEGAL in Contra Costa County! That means ALL!

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James Gold Jun 14, 2021 - 3:16 pm

The Oakley city council along with the police department should get a little more creative about how to handle the law-breaking fireworks crowd. Having the police chase them down is not working because they take off when the see a police car. What about having UNMARKED police cars out-and-about? Ever thought of that, Council Members?

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Jon C. Jun 14, 2021 - 3:56 pm

Why are there even fireworks set off? I’ve always been curious! Why not have them on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, Easter Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Halloween? Maybe we need more noise pollution! We haven’t had enough!

I dread the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, but then we are having people set these things off just about very day in Oakley. What’ being done?

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Elaine Bond Jun 16, 2021 - 3:13 am

How to solve forever the fireworks problem: Change the national anthem from “The Star-Spangle Banner” to “America the Beautiful.” The current anthem is based on a tavern song and most people can’t even sing it properly because of the octaves.

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