City council revisits ban on fireworks

July 25 meeting could determine if decision will go to voters in November

Talks about banning fireworks within the Sequim city limits are back on and this time Sequim city councilors are considering putting it to a citywide vote.

A majority of councilors at their July 11 meeting asked city staff to draft ballot language for the Nov. 8 general election so that they could discuss a possible ban at their July 25 city council meeting.

City Manager Charlie Bush said the recommendation city staff will put forward to councilors asks residents if they want to fully ban fireworks or not. From there, city councilors can opt to go forward with that for the ballot, lessen the amount of days to shoot off fireworks or delay the topic, Bush said.

“If a ban were to go on the ballot, it has the potential to resolve this conversation for a decade or more,” Bush said.

If a referendum does go forward and residents vote to ban fireworks, it would go into effect July 4, 2018.

Currently, consumer fireworks are sold and able to be discharged within the city limits from June 28-July 5.

In June, Sequim city councilors discussed possibly banning or limiting consumer fireworks within the city limits but didn’t reach consensus on the decision.

Deputy Mayor Ted Miller suggested bans on fireworks within the city limits a few times before and after the June discussion recommended city councilors speak with constituents and revisit the topic later.

They did and the councilors openly supported a public vote on Monday night.

“I like the idea of letting the public decide,” said Councilor Genaveve Starr.

Miller told city councilors Monday he was investigating the logistics and cost of putting a referendum on the November ballot.

His intent is to follow the City of Port Angeles’ referendum to some degree. The Port Angeles city council voted in March 2015 to ban discharging fireworks within the city limits except on the Fourth of July. It went into effect this summer.

Bush said the deadline for putting a referendum on the Nov. 8 general election ballot is Aug. 2, so city councilors will need to decide by the July 25 meeting or hold a special meeting before then.

He estimates it would cost $4,000-$5,000 for the city depending on how many things are on the ballot.

“Resolution of this discussion was something requested by proponents of fireworks being legal in the city several weeks ago at a council meeting,” Bush said.

“It would also provide those who want a ban to present their case to the community. Both sides would have several months to debate this issue. Given that November is a general presidential election, it will have high turnout and therefore should provide an accurate read from the public on their position on this topic.”

Bush said going forward with a vote doesn’t indicate a stance by the city council but that “they want to have a discussion and have the public make a decision.”

A community group approached city staff earlier this year about a community fireworks show, Bush said, but the group needed more time to organize it.

The Sequim Irrigation Festival’s logging show in May hosts the Sequim-Dungeness area’s only public fireworks display annually.

Along with Port Angeles’ ban, the City of Port Townsend banned consumer fireworks in 2003.

Consumer fireworks are allowed for the Fourth of July in Clallam County from June 29-July 5.


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