By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop may OK sale of fireworks for July 4th
Placeholder Image
LATHROP – Safe and Sane fireworks could be part of the city’s July 1 birthday and Fourth of July celebrations this year for the first time ever.

The Lathrop City Council on Monday gave the green light to fast-track a fireworks ordinance that would allow the city’s nonprofit agencies to have Safe and Sane fireworks booths as fund-raisers this year.

The process to establish the new ordinance will need a fire board approval, a first public hearing to introduce the ordinance, a second public hearing and subsequent adoption of the ordinance on April 19 to be in effect on May 20 after a 30-day waiting period.

The current Lathrop Municipal Code (Chapter 8.12) prohibits fireworks inside the city, so that has to be repealed and then replaced by the new one which will make it legal to sell “safe and sane fireworks” within the city limits.

The lead agency and enforcement authority for the fireworks ordinance will be the Lathrop-Manteca Fiire District. Part of the step in adopting the fireworks ordinance is to have it discussed by the fire board. Since the fire board’s next meeting was Thursday, it may be too late to get it in as an agenda item, Fire Chief Fred Manding told the council. However, he said that he could present it to the board as part of his report.

 As has been proven by cities like Manteca, nonprofit organizations stand to benefit from the proposed Safe and Sane fireworks program. It would be set up in the way it is done in cities such as Manteca which have been doing the same program for a number of years, with qualified nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations applying for the chance to set up a fund-raising booth. Responding to an inquiry made by Mayor Kristy Sayles, Don Pascarella of TNT Fireworks, Inc. which supplied the fireworks in Manteca last year, total revenues generated by all of the booth sales last year alone came up to $475,000.

“That’s retail sales, not profits,” Pascarella said.

One of those who spoke in support of Safe and Sane fireworks was Planning Commissioner Dan Mac Neilage.

“They tried it in Manteca and it works,” he said.

And it works because Manteca puts “safety first” by educating its residents. “The fire department regulates it; everything is about safety and that’s the whole thing,” he added.

A lot of families have Safe and Sane fireworks celebrations and the nonprofits get to benefit from that, he said. The mayor said one of those that would benefit from this program is the July 1 Lathrop Birthday Celebration Committee which hopes to have one of these fund-raising booths.

In response to the question from council members on how to educate the citizens about firecrackers safety, Neighborhood and Community Services Director Becky Enneking said they have handouts and checklists already prepared. If the city needs to fast-track the process in time for this year’s celebration, “we’re ready; you name it, we got it,” Enneking said.

Other issues the council will need to discuss
There are a number of important issues that the city will need to discuss at their next meeting about the Safe and Sane Fireworks program.

They will need to determine the application process, what groups or organizations are qualified to apply, how many permits will be issued – the population will be used as the basis for that – and might require a lottery system should the applications outnumber the permits allowed, how much fees will be charged and how to use those revenues, to mention a few in the laundry list of requirements.

Included in the language of the fireworks ordinance would be the guidelines for submitting proof of insurance, a tax number from the state Board of Equalization, attending a mandatory safety training seminar for volunteer workers, how to set up fireworks stands and safety procedures, and how to prepare and submit required tax forms to the state, among others.

Sale of fireworks is tentatively scheduled from June 28 to July 4 or 5.