OT?: Stockpile Your Millennium Fireworks... Could Be Shortages (S.F. Gate)

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Shakes head. Think about one of those off-the-wall Y2K side-effects... drinking, fireworks and... water problems. What a millinnium cocktail!



Bay Area Cities' Y2K Fireworks Problem
Limits may be in store on sales for millennium fete
Carolyne Zinko, Julie N. Lynem, Chronicle Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 14, 1999
)1999 San Francisco Chronicle


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

As the countdown to the millennium begins, some cities would prefer that the New Year didn't come in with a bang.

Although San Francisco is the presumed center for Bay Area celebrations, with fireworks shows planned at the Golden Gate Bridge and elsewhere, other cities are grappling with whether to allow citizens to fire off their own pyrotechnic displays.

Under a change in state law that went into effect this year, cities have the authority to pass a local ordinance to allow the sales of fireworks during the six days preceding midnight on New Year's Eve, for this New Year's only.

[Increased fire hazzards anyone?]

Given the current anti-fireworks stance of most area fire chiefs and city councils, the law is most likely to affect cities that already allow the sales of ``safe and sane fireworks,'' instead of spurring a rash of new fireworks sales permits.

But not all cities that allow fireworks sales are jumping into the party plans.

In Pacifica, where the City Council last night was expected to vote on the matter, a police report recommended against allowing fireworks sales. A report cited fears that fireworks could combine to create chaos and strain law enforcement resources needed to combat drunken driving, possible Y2K emergencies and mutual aid to other cities, such as San Francisco, in case of rioting.

San Bruno and Newark have already voted against the sale of fireworks for similar reasons, while Santa Rosa, Gilroy and Dublin have taken a more lenient approach in deciding to allow fireworks sales.

Meanwhile, officials in cities such as Fremont, which banned fireworks sales in 1986, say they have no intention of rethinking their policies now -- especially since firefighters scramble each year to put out blazes started by illegal fireworks.

``We feel it's best to leave fireworks for the professionals,'' said Fremont Fire Marshal Bill Reykalin.

In Pacifica, permission to sell fireworks was requested in an August 2 letter to the council from the Pacifica Fireworks Action Committee, which supports youth athletics.

The group offered to compromise by selling for fewer days than the law allows for, and advocating the closure of the beaches to discourage an influx of out-of-town partyers, among other things.

``We need to allow law-abiding citizens to celebrate legally and to not take things away from them because of what other people might do illegally,'' said William Gray, a high school coach who chairs the committee.

But a Police Department report prepared for last night's meeting noted that the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services predicts a 48- to 72-hour celebration for the ``millennium period'' -- in other words, New Year's Eve -- ``similar to what occurred at the World War II Victory celebration where Market Street was looted.''

Mayor Calvin Hinton, reached before the meeting, agreed with the report. ``I think that fireworks would only exacerbate the revelry,'' he said.

San Bruno and Newark have also decided against allowing fireworks sales for safety reasons.

``Ironically -- although we're one of the most (ardent) safe and sane fireworks councils -- we unanimously voted no,'' said San Bruno Mayor Ed Simon, referring to the city's April decision. ``July 4th and New Year's are two different celebrations. One's family, one's adult. We'll have enough drunks as it is on the streets. People can be responsible with fireworks, but they may not be as responsible when they're drinking.''

He noted that the city is also worried about problems for city, county or utility computer systems because of the way the date change could affect computers.

``If the power goes out and those lights flicker, I don't want police officers dealing with fireworks rather than real problems,'' Simon said.

In Newark, local nonprofit groups that sell fireworks for the Fourth of July approached the city six months ago requesting permission to do the same for New Year's, said City Manager Al Huezo.

But after city officials strongly discouraged the activity, explaining that they already had enough traffic, drunken driving and domestic abuse problems to handle on New Year's Eve, those organizations had a change of heart.

``We met with them and told them about the problems we would have with the millennium celebration,'' he said. ``They decided to take the letter back.''

But fireworks will be sold in the week before New Year's Eve in Gilroy, Santa Rosa and Dublin. Gilroy even voted on the matter last year to give vendors time to plan ahead, city officials said.

``We decided for the turning of the century that we should make fireworks available through the same process that we use for the Fourth of July,'' said City Manager Jay Baska. `We've had a tradition of doing it for the Fourth for so many years. Plus, it's in recognition of something that doesn't happen too often.''

In April, Santa Rosa's council was swayed by the money fireworks sales would provide to nonprofit organizations.

``They asked the council for its cooperation and the members felt that it wasn't that much different from the Fourth,'' said City Manager Ken Blackman.

Dublin earlier this year voted to allow the sale of fireworks, but will limit the number of days they can be sold to only December 28 through December 31.

``We've had good experience with it during the July season,'' said City Manager Richard Ambrose. ``And the fire season is even less hazardous during the month of December.''

)1999 San Francisco Chronicle

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), September 14, 1999


fireworks=terrorists=explosions. can you tell the difference??

-- i like=amazing grace. (dogs@zianet.com), September 14, 1999.

``We need to allow law-abiding citizens to celebrate legally and to not take things away from them because of what other people might do illegally,'' said William Gray, a high school coach who chairs the committee.

Aakkk! A radical !

(anyway I've already got mine.)

-- Free (LiveFreeOrDie@New.Hampshire.USA), September 14, 1999.

Hawaii always allows fireworks for New Year's eve celebrations...as well as fourth of July and Chinese New Years... The recent problem was that so many were fired off that visibility was impaired due to the smoke. (seriously!) Some people were having trouble breathing... Some people will spend in excess of $1,000 on fireworks!

Not so bad mauka (up the mountain) where I live.

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), September 14, 1999.

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