October 19, 2006

Press Telegram Endorses YES on Measure "D" to ban Fireworks

Yes on Measure D
Lakewood fireworks ban would improve quality of life.

Article Launched:10/18/2006
Long Beach Press Telegram

A Nov. 7 ballot measure that would ban the sale and use of all fireworks in Lakewood would make the city safer, quieter and more enjoyable on the Fourth of July. For those reasons, and a couple more we'll explain in a moment, we are urging residents to vote Yes on Measure D.

The decision to endorse the ban was not arrived at easily, and we are sympathetic to the youth sports teams and other non-profits that rely on the sale of "safe and sane" fireworks for funding. The majority of residents handle fireworks properly, and they will pay the price.

But this is a public safety issue, and as an accident last year illustrated, the city needs to put safety first.

There are enough scofflaws in Lakewood to make Fourth of July unpleasant in many neighborhoods. Certain streets turn into virtual war zones, where residents mix safe and sane displays with the illegal stuff from Mexico and Nevada. Inside the smoke that gathers on the streets are children, the occasional moving car, people drinking alcohol, dogs, music and other distractions.

And the smoke and crowds make it hard for sheriff's deputies to tell who is breaking the law and who isn't. And then the deputies get criticized - sometimes by us - for
not stamping out the illegal fireworks or citing enough people. That's not entirely fair since conditions, and the community's generally lax attitude about fireworks, make it hard for deputies to do their jobs. They can't always see down dark and smoky streets.

An outright ban would simplify things. It would encourage residents to attend public fireworks displays, which always trump amateur hours anyway, and keep residential tracts more peaceful over a holiday that drives away many residents who don't want to deal with the noise.

This was all brought to, um, light in March 2005, when Lakewood resident Brian Miller accidentally blew up his illegal fireworks stash - and part of his rental house on Dunrobin Avenue - when he went for his morning smoke. That mistake, which netted Miller a felony conviction and a five-year prison sentence, was a wake-up call we think the city should heed.

Neighbors had complained about Miller's cache of illegal fireworks for years, but sheriff's investigators said they couldn't catch him in the act.

But the real problem is the live-and-let-live ethos of Lakewood. People there are good at tending to their own gardens, maybe too good. They look the other way sometimes when the Millers of their community push the limits.

But public safety is everyone's business, and Lakewood needs to stick its collective nose in places it normally wouldn't.

Measure D would make that easier, since residents could report every fireworks incident with confidence and before they go back to minding their business.

No comments: