State rules may halt Laguna Beach's Fourth of July show

State water quality regulators may douse the annual Fourth of July fireworks display in Laguna Beach if City Manager Ken Frank can't get an exemption.

The San Diego region of the state Regional Water Quality Control Board recently announced its intention to regulate fireworks over ocean water in San Diego County and parts of Orange County, including Laguna Beach. The shows won't be banned, but a permit from the board will require the cleaning up of debris, which must be monitored for pollutants.

"Agencies are supposed to be able to get permits, but Laguna always has a quirk," Frank said at a recent Laguna Beach City Council meeting.

Laguna's show at Monument Point in Heisler Park overlooks a portion of the city's coastline designated as a marine reserve.

"There is some question whether they would approve a permit over an area of biological significance," Frank said.

City staff proposed a strategy for contesting the proposed order:

— Seek board approval of an annual exemption above an area of special biological significance.

— Send a letter to the board requesting the exemption, which would allow the pyrotechnics to be displayed in the safest location in the city.

— Instruct the city's staff to find an alternative launch site that avoids debris falling into the reserve.

Frank was authorized to seek the exemption.

The city will plan to celebrate the Fourth of July with a fireworks show in 2011, implementing best management practices in cleaning the debris from the area, Frank said.

"There is a lot of public support for the show," Frank said. "One day is not unreasonable."

A year ago, the City Council announced that Laguna Beach could no longer afford its annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

The community responded by raising $25,000 for the 2010 show and a down payment on the 2011 show.

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