The Los Angeles City Council approved a motion Wednesday to pursue new strategies to curtail illegal fireworks, including a buyback program and reward program for people who report major suppliers of illegal fireworks.
“We know how many of our household pets, seniors, and families have been traumatized by the explosives that will start to commence and to grow in use about now, so it’s really important that we start to develop alternative strategies,” Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who introduced the motion, told council members before Wednesday’s vote.
“This is an effort to try and identify alternatives instead of shrugging our shoulders and anticipating the LAPD will go out and enforce on this,” she added.
Along with scaring pets and creating fire risk, the use of legal and illegal fireworks in Southern California last July created the worst air quality in the region in a decade, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Concentrations of PM2.5 were 70% higher than previous years between 7 p.m. on the Fourth of July and 7 a.m. the next day in the South Coast Air Basin, which includes Orange County and parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to the AQMD.
Rodriguez’ motion directed the Los Angeles Police Department to report on the feasibility of creating a reward program for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of those who sell illegal fireworks in the city. The LAPD was also directed to work with the fire department to report on establishing a fireworks buyback program modeled after the city’s gun program.
The motion also seeks to expand the city’s fireworks reporting system. Los Angeles has a complaint system through 311 for people to report fireworks usage for a few weeks before the Fourth of July, but the motion directed a report on extending this period to two months before and two months after the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, and possibly throughout the year.
“We know that we are going to continue to see increased fire risk as a result of the drought. California is always in a 24/7, year-round fire season, so it’s really important that we start to be more aggressive and proactive at identifying alternatives that will help not only to mitigate those risks, but also the risk that are endured by the trauma that so many families and their pets have experienced as a result of the use of fireworks,” Rodriguez said.
In an effort to understand the full impact illegal fireworks have on the city’s pets, the motion also directed a report from the Department of Animal Services on the number of animals who are recovered or who die and are recovered by the Bureau of Sanitation during periods of frequent fireworks.