Friday, June 3, 2011
A Superior Court judge, who recently ordered the city of San Diego to follow state environmental laws when issuing permits for fireworks shows and other special events, today stayed enforcement of her ruling until Aug. 31.
The decision by Judge Linda Quinn stems from a lawsuit filed by environmental lawyer Marco Gonzalez against the city and the organizers of theJuly 4 fireworks display at La Jolla Cove.
Environmentalists contend debris from the airborne explosions harms sea life at a nearby marine sanctuary.
Quinn's stay means the Independence Day show will go on as scheduled this year.
Gonzalez said he found the stay to be "troubling'' because the judge indicated early in a Thursday court hearing that she opposed the idea of holding off enforcement of the ruling, and did not give any reason for her change of heart in the written ruling she issued today.
"While we're of course not happy with the court's ruling, we understand the immense pressure the city and fireworks organizers have created by delaying these proceedings so long and by dragging in all of the other events that could be possibly impacted by the ruling,'' Gonzalez said.
"But in the end, what's most important is that regardless of whether the La Jolla fireworks happen this year, there will be significant changes in the way the city handles these events going forward, and that has been our goal all along,'' he said.
Organizers of the pyrotechnics displays say that since their costs are nearly too high already, they would not be able to afford the added expense of filing environmental reports.
Attorneys for the city argued that Parks and Recreation Department employees issue thousands of permits annually, and cannot take on the additional burden of processing the reports.
Quinn's original decision on May 27 was based on the city's municipal code, not the environmental issues. In her written ruling issuing the stay, she also ordered the city to return to court on Aug. 31 to update her on options it had to comply.
Mayor Jerry Sanders called the stay "great news for the thousands of San Diegans who plan to mark this Independence Day with a beautiful La Jolla fireworks show.''
"The idea that a once-a-year fireworks display poses a threat to the environment defies both basic common sense and scientific evidence,'' he said.
Earlier this week, the mayor went on national television to defend fireworks displays and vowed to appeal the ruling.