Costa Mesa takes steps to prohibit possession of illegal fireworks

Costa Mesa City Council members advanced an ordinance Tuesday that would amend the municipal code to prohibit possession of illegal fireworks.

The proposed change is meant to give the Police Department another tool to combat the use of those devices, particularly around the Fourth of July.

The amendment would allow local officers to issue citations for possession of illegal fireworks under the municipal code, which they’re unable to do now, though Costa Mesa already prohibits the discharge, sale or attempted sale of illegal fireworks such as aerial shells, bottle rockets, cherry bombs and firecrackers.

“The practical effect of not having that is that enforcement has been more difficult, obviously,” police Lt. Greg Scott told the council Tuesday. “We have to wait until the firework’s lit off, the mortar goes 100 feet in the air — so this is just a slam dunk.”

Though local officers can issue citations for possession of such devices under state law, those violations would be prosecuted by the Orange County district attorney’s office, according to a city staff report.

Citations under the municipal code can be handled locally, Scott said.

Council members voted 4-0 to schedule the amendment for a second reading and possible adoption on Oct. 3. Councilman Jim Righeimer was absent.

Hearing on firefighters’ contract delayed

Council members also voted 4-0 to delay a scheduled public hearing on a proposed new contract for the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. until Oct. 3.

The hearing — which wasn’t on the council agenda when it was first released Friday afternoon but was added later that day — would have been the first of two required under Costa Mesa’s Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinance.

In an email after Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Katrina Foley said the delay is due to “some language issues that the lawyers had not finalized.”

According to a city staff report, the tentative contract would run through June 30, 2021, and provide the association’s 73 members with four 3% pay raises between now and Jan. 1, 2019.

Association members have been contributing 5% of their salaries toward their pensions, but that would rise gradually to 14% under the new contract.

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