Police lay down the law for Fourth

Newport Beach police will roll out a notification system specifically for the Fourth of July this year.

Newport residents and beach visitors can sign up for text message alerts about road closures, traffic advisories and other information specifically for the holiday, said Jennifer Manzella, a Newport Beach police spokeswoman.

Anyone can activate the service by texting NBJULY4TH to 888777.

Although police had the ability in past years, this is the first time the department is pushing for people to sign up and actually sending notifications, according to Manzella.

"We pioneered this a couple of years ago and didn't end up having to put anything out," she said.

For the second year in a row, police will also keep Balboa Boulevard open to traffic in an effort to curb rowdy party-goers.

"Our eventual goal is to promote a family-friendly holiday for all of Newport Beach, and shutting down the boulevard can lead to kind of a party atmosphere," Manzella said.

For years, the city has tried to reduce unruly activity on the summer holiday when crowds flock to Newport's beaches.

Police made 119 arrests, wrote 522 personal citations, gave out 545 parking citations and issued four Loud and Unruly Gathering Ordinance (LUGO) citations around the Fourth of July last year, according to data presented to the City Council in a study session last month.

This year, police will continue the practice of establishing a "safety enhancement zone" on the peninsula, where they deploy the heaviest concentration of officers.

They will focus on an triangular area south of West Coast Highway between Newport Boulevard/32nd Street and 54th Street.

Fines issued in the area will be tripled, sometimes reaching $3,000, Manzella said.

All fireworks outside of professional displays are illegal in Newport Beach, but in Costa Mesa "safe and sane" fireworks are allowed.

Costa Mesa police warned in a press release that they would strictly enforce rules governing when and where fireworks can be purchased and used.

"Our main concern is safety and illegal fireworks," Lt. Bryan Glass said.

The department has shifted its staffing to make more officers available to respond to noise complaints while maintaining normal service, he said.

Officers will be ready to write civil citations for the use of illegal fireworks or legal fireworks in illegal places, he added.

Fireworks can only be set off daily between 4 and 10 p.m. until Thursday, according to police.

The pyrotechnics are banned in city parks, schools and public parking lots.

Stands are allowed to sell fireworks between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. until Wednesday. On Thursday, sales are permitted between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Costa Mesa also regulates who can sell fireworks in the city. This year, officials approved 37 applications from nonprofits to set up stands and raise money off of sales.

Officials also encouraged residents to help them stop people launching fireworks that don't bear the state fire marshal's seal of approval.

A press release asked people to call police with a location if they see any fireworks that discharge into the air.

"Once in a while we will come across some illegal fireworks and those will be confiscated," Glass said.

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