everal different code changes have been made to fireworks ordinances in the City of Riverside after receiving numerous citizen complaints.
According to Brent Miles, Riverside director of planning and economic development, after numerous meetings between citizens, vendors and the city, Riverside’s board of aldermen approved eight code changes in their fireworks ordinances.
“We had a lot of people coming to the city and complaining to the staff and aldermen about issues with fireworks within the city,” said Miles. “We asked citizens and fireworks vendors to meet in a group to come up with a plan of action to tackle some of the issues they had.
“They then came back with general subjects to the board of aldermen and we did a staff analysis and presented that as a staff report to the board of aldermen.”
Miles stated that those topics equated to code changes. Some of those changes included a ban on bottle rockets, increase in licensing fees, restricting the hours in which fireworks could be shot, and a requirement of vendors to carry $2 million in liability insurance.
“We wanted to try and please the residents and clean up some of the problems we had,” said Miles. “We tried to make recommendations to please both sides. We had two very opposite ends of the spectrum. The vendors were saying ‘we’re a business here and why aren’t you protecting us?’ And some of the citizens were saying they didn’t want the sale of fireworks at all in the City of Riverside.”
After the 2006 fireworks season, Miles said the sale of bottle rockets will no longer be legal in the City of Riverside.
“A lot of citizens were complaining of shooting bottle rockets. It was already illegal and the police department has been trying to enforce it but it was difficult to enforce. You would have citizens say they’re not allowed to shoot bottle rockets but it’s legal for vendors to be selling them just down the street. So we banned the sale of bottle rockets completely,” stated Miles.
Miles said the city decided to delay the implementation of the law until after this year because many vendors already had thousands of bottle rockets in storage.
Residents will now be able to shoot fireworks from June 26-July 5, instead of June 19-July 5.
The licensing fee for vendors was increased from $1,000 to $1,500.
“We had a major problem after the fireworks season with people still shooting off fireworks and leaving a mess. Now we can take the extra $500 and use that revenue to help clean up the city,” stated Miles.
While it is hard to predict if the new laws will have a great impact on Riverside’s revenue stream, Miles said he anticipates the number of locations to drop slightly this year.
Last year, Riverside had 22 different fireworks locations. This year, Miles stated there is a potential the city could see a drop in vendors by three to four sites.