Santa Monica’s Independence Day celebrations have been canceled for the year but one problematic annual trend has returned, illegal fireworks are being fired throughout the city.
Residents from all parts of the city have been reporting booms throughout the night for the past couple of weeks and the police department said they expect calls to grow up to July 4 and then decline in the subsequent weeks.
All types of fireworks are illegal in the City of Santa Monica including so-called “safe and sane” fireworks, which may not be used in Santa Monica even if they are legal in the city in which they are purchased. Possession of fireworks is considered a misdemeanor and may be punishable up to $1,000 fine, and or 6 months in jail. The fireworks will also be confiscated.
The only local, legal, fireworks show used to be held at Santa Monica College. However, the SMC show was canceled this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions of large-scale, in-person events. Marina Del Rey has also canceled its show.
Neighborhood Resource Officer Edgar Navarro said he has recently transitioned from working the Pico/Mid City beat to the Ocean Park area and fireworks have been a concern everywhere.
“We’re getting firework calls from all areas of the city, it’s going on throughout the city and as we get close to July 4, we hear more about fireworks than we do the rest of the year,” he said. “In terms of what we’re recommending, we’re telling people to call us when you’re hearing them. All neighborhoods are being affected by it.”
He said it’s important to receive calls from everyone who can hear the booms because the descriptions will help officers triangulate where the actual launch is happening.
“Ultimately it comes down to people reporting them,” he said. As it’s not one specific area, we can’t patrol a specific place or time because they’re happening throughout the city. The key way we can address it is by going off of what people are reporting.”
Navarro said in his 20 years of patrol, this is an annual trend. He said while the city does see some firework calls over New Years, it’s really the July 4 holiday that brings them out in large numbers. He said the trend will be to hear them for a few weeks before July 4 and then calls will continue, but decline, for a couple of weeks after the holiday.
“Some families think they are legal because of where they bought them,” he said. “For some families, as soon as you tell them they are illegal and confiscate them, most of the time that’s going to make it stop but some continue to push the envelope and those are the people we have to cite.”
Residents can call SMPD dispatch directly at (310) 458-8491 to report illegal fireworks.