Commentary: Time to add more freedom to the Fourth
Those who know me understand that there’s a lot I like about the ‘80s.
Like many who reside in Huntington Beach and were around at that time, I liked the music, I liked the good economic times and I liked having Ronald Reagan as president. One thing I didn’t like was the ban on fireworks imposed by the City Council in 1987.
For years after Huntington Beach was incorporated in 1909, it went without such restrictions, but many people became concerned about old wood-shake roofs and their flammability. Over the past two decades, almost all wood-shake roofs have been replaced.
Some thought the 1987 ban on state-approved fireworks would stop the loud illegal explosives, like M-80s. Unfortunately, these devices could be heard on and around Independence Day every year throughout Huntington Beach’s ban. That experiment didn’t work.
Without any compelling reason to continue the ban on state-approved fireworks, I supported its lifting through a trial period until an ultimate decision could be made. Well, I think it’s time we made a decision.
At the Monday meeting of the Huntington Beach City Council, I will offer two proposals. One will be to repeal the 1987 ban on state-approved fireworks. If that proposal does not have majority support, then I would propose that the trial period be extended by one year so that the voters could make the decision through a measure on the November 2014 ballot.
Those who favor the darkness are still around and they would like to extinguish the illumination brought about by the personal enjoyment of state-approved fireworks on the Fourth of July.
At least two council members had already decided they were against state-approved fireworks even before the trial period began. If state-approved fireworks are to continue at the direction of the City Council, then it will be up to the others to listen to those who enjoyed the freedom to use state-approved fireworks in Huntington Beach for the first time in more than two decades.
Additionally, those deciding the fate of fireworks in the city will have to listen to the students who have found a critical fundraising opportunity to benefit music, athletics and other programs at our high schools. As an alumnus of Huntington Beach High School and a former trustee for the Huntington Beach Union High School District, I care about our students being able to reach their goals and achieve.
Fullerton, Westminster and Villa Park have repealed their outdated bans on state-approved fireworks either by council decision or at the ballot box.
Like many old laws on the books in Huntington Beach, the 1987 ban on state-approved fireworks limits residents’ freedom. Let’s overturn this outdated ban on fireworks or let the voters decide.
MATTHEW HARPER is mayor pro tem of Huntington Beach.
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