Residents in Unincorporated Areas are MAD About Fireworks

Fireworks are illegal in all unincorporated areas of L.A. County. – Courtesy photo

By Susan Motander

The Fourth of July is the traditional time to set off fireworks but New Year’s Day is also a popular time. Thus, it is appropriate to remind everyone that fireworks, even the “safe and sane” ones, are banned throughout most of the foothill communities including Monrovia, Arcadia and Duarte. Many people are not aware that they are also banned in ALL the unincorporated parts of the county.

However, they are still being set off in the area referred to as MAD—those unincorporated areas south of Monrovia, Arcadia and Duarte—and some residents are raising concerns about the Sheriff’s Department’s perceived lack of enforcement of this ban.

According to Michele Silence, who worked hard in her community of Duarte to pass Measure F which finally banned fireworks in that town, the Sheriff’s Department rarely enforces the ban in the MAD area. She supplied information that shows there are only 67 streets in the entire area and less than 2,300 residences. The information also showed that while calls regarding fireworks had gone up in this area, there had been no citations.

There are several reasons for concern about personal fireworks displays. The backers of the move to push enforcement point out that illegal fireworks are often supplied by the same sources as other illegal substances, such as guns and narcotics. They also point to the physical danger fireworks pose. 

In addition to these concerns are the particulate matters they spew into the air polluting the atmosphere and making breathing difficult for those with impaired breathing. There is also the danger of water pollution from the packing and the refuse of the spent fireworks.
If all this were not enough, many pets are traumatized by the noise. And, those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also affected.

Perhaps the biggest danger lies in the threat of wildfires. These are not just a danger in the hillside areas of the Wildland Urban Inferface (WUI), but throughout the foothill communities. There are hundreds of palm trees in this area, and most are not properly trimmed each year. An ember in one of those could turn the entire tree into a flare.

Those pushing for increased enforcement have outlined a three prong attack: education, entertainment and enforcement. They suggest additional signage pointing out that there is a ban in place. Many people believe that because fireworks have been set off for years in the area that they are legal. They suggest better education among young people. They assert that children are often able to teach their parents.

They also suggest public entertainment such as the fireworks display the Old Town merchants support at Monrovia’s Library Park each 4th of July along with its concert and community picnic. Pamela Park is the suggested location for such a celebration as it is somewhat centrally located in the MAD area. 

They are also calling on Temple City Sheriff’s Station to step up its enforcement of the fireworks ban. The problem is that setting off these pyrotechnic displays is only a misdemeanor and as such must be observed by the officer issuing the citation. Again there is a call for better education of the matter.


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