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Possible End For Local Fireworks Show With New Regulations


Proposed fees and regulations for coastal fireworks shows in San Diego County would put an end to traditional July 4th pyrotechnics near bodies of water, and residents should oppose the idea, Mayor Jerry Sanders said today.

— The oohs and aahs of July 4th fireworks audiences could be silenced in places like La Jolla and Ocean Beach. Opponents argue proposed permit and water monitoring requirements from the Regional Water Quality Control Board could put an end to the shows.

Those opponents include some San Diego County city leaders. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is urging residents to challenge the proposal at a workshop next week and the City of Santee has told the board new regulations would be too costly to implement.

“We actually think this is probably like trying to kill an ant with a sledgehammer," Sanders said. "We’ve not seen any evidence that occasional fireworks have any impact on anything.”

Environmentalists argue the water monitoring is especially important because some of the shows take place near sensitive marine habitats.

However, Sanders said monitoring could cost as much as $30,000 for a single event.

A water board representative said detractors are overreacting.

“Our current thinking is that most displays of a smaller and infrequent nature probably won’t have any monitoring,” said James Smith, a water board executive officer.

The new regulations would protect fireworks organizers from lawsuits, Smith said. He said fireworks debris is a pollutant that can be regulated under federal guidelines.

It was those guidelines the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation accused the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation of violating in a lawsuit filed earlier this year.

Fear of a lawsuit caused the Port of San Diego Tenants Association to cancel a fireworks show over San Diego Bay this past New Year's.

SeaWorld San Diego agreed to monitor the water quality of Mission Bay several years ago, also as a result of lawsuit threats. That monitoring has found minimal adverse effects from more than 100 fireworks shows a year, the mayor said.

A spokesman for the nautical theme park could not immediately be reached for confirmation.

The board will hold a workshop on Thursday to hear public comments on the proposed regulation. The board does not plan to make a decision next week.

City News Service contributed to this story.

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