No added fireworks restrictions

OBSERVER FILE PHOTO Days and nights of fireworks before and after July 4 have some Peninsula residents asking for restrictions, while other remain committed to the status quo.

LONG BEACH — Fourth of July fireworks in Long Beach continue to be controversial, but the city council has decided to keep arrangements the same for 2018.

The consensus came after the Council heard details of a survey conducted by Pacific County Tourism at the request of the grassroots group Not a Ban, A Better Plan, whose supporters want authorities to reflect the theme of their name.

Right now, fireworks are allowed for eight days — from June 28 to July 5.

Residents have expressed concerns about the noise, the fear of fires in the dunes and the detritus that needs to be cleaned up afterward.

Opinions on reducing the number of allowed days for fireworks from eight to three were sought in a couple of recent surveys.

In one, answered mostly by people in Long Beach, 29 of the 57 respondents favored a reduction, 19 were against and there were nine other responses.

Comments in favor of restrictions pointed to fire risks and noise that scares pets; comments against change noted that it is a key period for merchants to earn tourist dollars.

Timing may be a factor in 2018. “This year, with the Fourth falling on a Wednesday, I think many will come down the weekend prior expecting to blow stuff up,” said one respondent.

Another survey which garnered 109 responses from a broader geographical area was conducted through the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. Magen Michaud from the Ban/Plan group reported that 71 percent supported a reduction in the number of days. This mirrored a survey with considerably more respondents in 2017 that made headlines when revealed last September because 80 percent of respondents wanted change.

“The results of these two surveys demonstrate that a strong majority of the respondents who pay property taxes, who are registered to vote, and who own businesses, support a reduction on the Fourth of July legal fireworks discharge days,” Michaud wrote in a widely distributed email shared with the City Council April 16.

Mayor Jerry Phillips said Long Beach’s rule allowing fireworks to be shot off for eight days around the holiday dovetails with regulations inside Washington State Parks and the City of Ilwaco.

Pacific County allows eight days, also. Commissioner Frank Wolfe weighed in through an email exchange reported to the City Council. He thought progress has been made during recent discussions, but the various jurisdictions cannot have different rules. “All jurisdictions must speak with a single voice,” he wrote.

Phillips said extra Long Beach police patrols, and assistance from officers from Washington State Patrol and Fish and Wildlife officers would be a key part of the city’s strategy to minimize abuse.

Also, the city will continue to enforce its rule that bans camping on the beach during the Fourth.

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