BUENA PARK : Changes Asked in Fireworks Rules

Fire Chief Herb R. Jewell says changes need to be made to city regulations to discourage people from shooting fireworks on public property and private parking lots, particularly at the Buena Park Mall.

The City Council, which is split on outlawing fireworks, met informally last week to listen to Jewell's suggestions to revise fireworks regulations. A new ordinance is expected to be submitted to the council in May for consideration.

Buena Park is one of only four cities in the county that allow the use of fireworks. Costa Mesa, Garden Grove and Santa Ana also allow fireworks to be possessed, sold and discharged, Jewell said.

Mayor Arthur C. Brown, who supports banning fireworks, said the proposed changes are needed to ensure public safety.

"I think they will be beneficial to the city, and for the people who want an outright ban, I hope this is an acceptable middle ground," he said.

The proposed changes include:

* Stopping the sale of fireworks at 8 p.m. on July 4 instead of 10 p.m. Fire officials said that stopping sales earlier would discourage people from storing and discharging fireworks after the holiday.

* Allowing the discharge of fireworks only on July 4 between 4 and 10 p.m. Currently, fireworks are allowed from July 1 to 4.

* Allowing the discharge of fireworks only on private property with the owner's permission. Fire officials said that discharging fireworks on city streets can pose problems by blocking access for emergency vehicles.

"I understand your concern," said Councilman Donald L. Bone, who is against prohibiting fireworks. "But I always shoot off (fireworks) in the street. It's safer in the street than in the yard."

The city should prohibit fireworks at local parks, private parking lots and schools because those areas have become popular places for non-residents to display them, and the cost of cleaning up litter becomes a concern, Jewell said.

Brown said he would support banning fireworks at parks because of complaints from residents.

Jewell said the city's school districts and the Buena Park Mall's management support the proposed changes because of fire and liability issues, as well as concerns about vandalism.

"In prior years, the mall parking lot became impossible to control due to large crowds and fireworks," wrote Lois R. Daniels, mall manager, in a letter to Jewell. "This is a big concern as far as liability and fire."

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