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Council members want to pump up penalty for use of illegal fireworks
illegal fireworks in ceres
Illegal fireworks shoot up into the sky from a home south of Hale Aloha Way on Saturday evening. Reports of aerial fireworks were widespread, far too many for Ceres Police to get to.

They don’t mess around in the City of San Bernardino when it comes to citing those using illegal fireworks.
Under a municipal ordinance they put in place in 2020 the first offense costs $1,500, the second offense within 36 months is $5,000, and each offense after within 36 months is $10,000. Tossed on top of that is an administrative civil penalty of $1,000 per day for each violation up to $100,000.
They even offer $250 rewards for tips that lead to the successful prosecution of offenders.

At Tuesday’s Manteca City Council meeting, both council members Dave Breitenbucher and Charlie Halford advocated for the City of Manteca up its fees for those caught launching illegal fireworks.

Twenty-four people were issued administrative citations over the Fourth of July that will set them back $1,000 each — $750 for the fine and $250 to cover city costs.

The council might not have the appetite to follow San Bernardino’s lead — Breitenbucher suggested upping the fine $250 — but they might be tempted to step up the punishment they dish out as Ceres did this year.

The city in Stanislaus County had a $1,000 fine in place like Manteca. They cited 53 people in 2019 and 38 in 2020. But earlier this year they upped the fine to $2,500.

They ended up earlier this month issuing 34 citations.

Ceres due to increased illegal fireworks usage over the years has been forced to significantly increase fire department staffing over the holiday weekend. This year they had three structure fires and 10 vegetation fires.
More than 80 people in Manteca have been cited since the city adopted the “host ordinance” regarding illegal fireworks. Virtually every administrative citation issued has resulted in the $1,000 fine being levied.

The city’s host ordinance requires only that the property where fireworks are launched from be identified and not the person actually setting off the fireworks. Not only is that significantly easier to verify, but because it is through the administrative process and not the court system the citations are resolved fairly quickly with the city prevailing in the vast majority of cases.

The fine falls on the person in control of the property where they are launched from whether it is a homeowner or a renter.

The goal is to make the financial hit hard enough to force people to drastically cut down on illegal fireworks.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email