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Costa Mesa councilman again seeks up to $50,000 from city for Fourth of July event

Costa Mesa councilman again seeks up to $50,000 from city for Fourth of July event
Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens is asking his colleagues to support funding a city-run Fourth of July celebration at the OC Fair & Event Center this year. The 2017 event, pictured, drew about 1,000 people. (Courtesy of city of Costa Mesa)

Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens is again asking his colleagues to consider committing up to $50,000 to stage a city-sponsored Fourth of July celebration.

It's the second consecutive year he's brought the idea forward. Last time around, his fellow City Council members agreed to allow the event to proceed — provided Stephens raised enough money to cover the cost.

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He did, and the event drew about 1,000 people to the OC Fair & Event Center, according to city officials.

"I thought that last year was very successful for the first year," Stephens said Friday. "It was a fun event."

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While the estimated cost of the event is about $50,000, the city's contribution could "vary based upon sponsorship funding," according to a staff report for Tuesday's council meeting.

Stephens said he's willing to drum up financial support again this year but that the city needs to have some skin in the game too.

"I think it's a worthwhile event for the city … and therefore I think it's worthwhile to allocate funds to it — much like we allocate funds to Snoopy House and other community events," he said. "And if the council doesn't want to allocate sufficient funds to it, then I just don't think it's going to be able to go forward."

This year's event also would take place at the fairgrounds and would feature live music, concessions, bounce houses and — like last year — a pyrotechnic display.

Though the shindig would be largely similar to the 2017 version, Stephens said he thinks it would be better to hold it on July 3 to avoid conflict with other local holiday gatherings and traditions. He's also hoping to get more local businesses involved.

Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens, standing at right, speaks during a rib-eating contest at last year's city-sponsored Fourth of July event at the OC Fair & Event Center.
Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens, standing at right, speaks during a rib-eating contest at last year's city-sponsored Fourth of July event at the OC Fair & Event Center. (Courtesy of city of Costa Mesa)

Stephens initially pitched the idea of a centralized, city-sponsored Independence Day bash in response to local complaints over the use of illegal fireworks such as aerial shells, bottle rockets, cherry bombs and firecrackers.

"I think this event has the potential to reduce illegal fireworks," he said. "I don't believe that the event last year was big enough to have that effect as a practical matter, but all the other things that we did I think were very helpful."

Those efforts included robust public outreach regarding the city's fireworks policies and the deployment of undercover police detectives.

All told, police seized more than 2,100 pounds of illegal fireworks and made 32 related arrests last year, according to the city.

Since last Fourth of July, the council also changed the city's municipal code to allow local officers to issue citations for possession of illegal fireworks.

Sober-living permit appeals

The City Council also will take up three appeals from operators seeking permits necessary to keep their sober-living and drug and alcohol treatment facilities open.

RAW Recovery LLC is asking the council to approve conditional use permits for its sober-living home with up to 37 residents at 321 and 327 Cabrillo St.

Northbound Treatment Services is seeking the same for its state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment facilities serving as many as 26 residents at 125 and 131 E. Wilson St. and a maximum of 24 people at 235 and 241 E. 18th St.

Both operators are seeking to overturn Planning Commission decisions to deny their permit applications.

In each case, the commission determined the properties violate the city's requirement that licensed alcohol and drug treatment facilities and sober-living homes — which house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts — be at least 650 feet from one another in residential areas.

Tuesday's council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

Twitter @LukeMMoney

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