|TO:||HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL|
|FROM:||MARK EVANOFF, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER|
INTRODUCE AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF UNION CITY ADDING CHAPTER 7.26, FIREWORKS, TO THE UNION CITY MUNICIPAL CODE AND DELETING UNION CITY MUNICIPAL CODE SECTION 15.20.140 TO INCREASE PENALTIES RELATED TO ILLEGAL FIREWORKS; ADOPT A RESOLUTION AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2537-03 AND SUBSEQUENT RESOLUTIONS REGULATING THE USE OF STATE-APPROVED FIREWORKS; AND CONSIDER A REPORT FROM GODBE RESEARCH REGARDING THE FIREWORKS COMMUNITY SURVEY
In response to the 2021 Fourth of July, the City Council directed staff to prepare an Ordinance to provide increased penalties for the deployment of illegal fireworks and make other minor modifications and conduct a public opinion survey about the community's views regarding fireworks.
Staff recommends that the City Council Introduce an Ordinance adding Chapter 7.26 and deleting Section 15.20.140 of the Union City Municipal Code to create new penalties for the illegal use of fireworks and adopt a Resolution to modify and clarify the City's fireworks regulations.
Staff will also provide a report from Godbe Research regarding the community survey related to fireworks
STRATEGIC PLAN ALIGNMENT
Goal C: Economic, Community Development, and Public Safety
Strategy 3: Increase fines for illegal fireworks, develop and implement a public communication campaign about fireworks, and consider banning the sales of deployment of all fireworks if the threat to community safety is not significantly reduced during the 4th of July season.
The City Council directed staff at its August 10, 2021 meeting to prepare an Ordinance that:
- Makes violations of the City's fireworks regulations a misdemeanor subject to administrative citations of up to $1,000. Violations include the possession and deployment of illegal fireworks and the deployment of any fireworks from City-owned property.
- Establishes strict liability for social hosts that allow the deployment of illegal fireworks or the use of fireworks in violation of the City's fireworks regulations on their property.
- Limits the hours that legal safe and sane fireworks can be deployed on July 4, from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.
The City Council also directed staff to engage and survey the community to determine the residents' views on fireworks. Lastly, the Council asked staff to review the City's regulations and administrative procedures that are related to legal safe and sane fireworks and provide updates with specific emphasis on public education and cost recovery for the City's fireworks related expenses.
City staff invited the fireworks suppliers Phantom and TNT, representatives of the organizations selling fireworks, and members of the community to participate in a community meeting held on September 23, 2021, that focused on the problems created by the deployment of illegal fireworks and the City Council's direction to address the issues. City Manager Joan Malloy, Police Chief Jared Rinetti, Alameda County Fire Department Division Chief of Operations Derrick Thomas, Public Works Superintendent Mark Camfield, and Deputy City Manager Mark Evanoff participated in the one-half hour webinar to present information and to respond to questions. Forty-eight members of the public attended the meeting. A recording of the session and comments posted during the meeting is available here:
Copies of the emails submitted by participants in the fireworks webinar and additional fireworks related emails received by staff and the City Clerk are attached as Attachment 1.
The proposed amendments to the City's Municipal Code would achieve the following:
- The deployment of illegal fireworks or a violation of the City's fireworks regulations will become a misdemeanor and allow for a $1,000 administrative citation.
- A Social Host Ordinance will create strict liability for property owners related to the illegal use of fireworks on their property. City staff, including the Police Department, Building Division, and Code Enforcement, would be authorized to issue an administrative citation.
- The hours that legal safe and sane fireworks can be deployed on July 4th will be reduced from 8:00 AM-11:00 PM to 8:00 AM-10:00 PM.
The proposed resolution makes some updates to the safe and sane fireworks procedures. It is necessary to revisit the procedures periodically to ensure that staff’s practices are contemporary and consistent with best practices.
City staff prepared summary data for all fireworks revenues in 2021 and identified the following major expenses:
$1,002,468.54 Gross fireworks sales
-- $ 501,234.25 Fireworks wholesale price paid to supplier
-- $ 50,306.42 Other fees paid to TNT and Phantom
-- $ 51,582.79 City application fee, business license, and cost
-- $ 107,765.37 State and local sales taxes due, including the City's portion of
sales taxes, which is $15,037.03
$ 291,589.00 Total net income retained by local organizations
Gross fireworks sales proceeds are apportioned as follows:
-- Fireworks suppliers 55.00 percent
-- State and local sales taxes 10.75 percent
-- City fees and cost recovery 5.00 percent
-- Fireworks booth operators (nonprofits) 29.25 percent
To assist the organizations with understanding how sales taxes are calculated and to document all fireworks related expenses, and to understand net proceeds received from the sale of fireworks after all expenses are paid, as well as to ensure that organizations comply with all laws and regulations, a new modified Fireworks Application has been prepared that will include a new provision that requires the person with treasury responsibilities to provide a summary accounting of fireworks income on November 1 in the year fireworks are sold:
- A copy of the closing invoice provided by the fireworks supplier that may include wholesale purchase price of fireworks used, booth rental fees, property rental fees, fees paid to City on behalf of organization selling fireworks.
- Costs incurred by the organization selling fireworks including State and local taxes paid.
- Other costs incurred by the organization selling fireworks.
- Net fireworks sales proceeds deposited into the treasury of the non-profit organization selling fireworks.
- For 2021 only, the fireworks accounting statement shall be due November 30, 2021.
The existing fireworks regulations allow the City to cover the full cost of administering the safe and sane fireworks program. Staff is reviewing its processes and procedures to ensure that it is recovering full costs related to the program.
TNT Public Records Request
Dennis C. Revell, President/CEO Revell Communications, on behalf of his client American Promotional Events, Inc. (TNT Fireworks), submitted two public record requests, which are attached to this report as Attachments 2 and 3. The requested data includes “summaries, correspondence, notes, emails, text messages and other administrative records, as well as fireworks-related citations, arrests and prosecution records; fireworks-related fire incident and injury reports; and general law enforcement and fire protection protocol and data,” as well as financial records and fee calculations. The records request also seeks information about the polling for the fireworks survey, which is Attachment 4 of this report.
Responding to the public records request has required significant City Attorney, City Clerk, Police Department, Finance Department, and IT time. Once the records are prepared, they will be posted online here: https://www.unioncity.org/395/Fireworks-Laws-and-Safety The City Council will also be provided copies of the data responding to the requests.
Polling Results on Community Viewpoints on Fireworks
In response to the City Council's direction to seek the community’s viewpoint regarding the use of fireworks, staff engaged Godbe Research to prepare a survey. Results of the survey will be presented to the City Council at the October 26, 2021 meeting. The polling results (Attachment 4) show that the community is divided on the issue of supporting the sale of safe and sane fireworks and supporting the banning of all fireworks.
The key take-away findings of the survey according to Bryan Godbe and TBWBH Props and Measures are:
- A large majority of residents understand the difference between 'safe and sane' and illegal fireworks.
- Nearly equal pluralities indicated they were, or were not, negatively impacted by fireworks.
- There is overwhelming support for increasing penalties for the use of illegal fireworks from $100 to $1,000 and making Union City residents liable for the illegal use of fireworks on their property.
- Opinions are mixed about an ordinance banning safe and sane fireworks.
Should an ordinance banning all fireworks be adopted by the Council, the ordinance is unlikely to hold up in a referendum.
There is no direct fiscal impact of introducing the proposed ordinance, adopting the resolution related to fireworks or considering the community survey.
Staff recommends that the City Council:
- Introduce an Ordinance adding Chapter 7.26 and deleting Section 15.20.140 of the Union City Municipal Code to create new penalties for the illegal use of fireworks.
- Adopt a resolution amending the fireworks regulations.
- Consider a report from Godbe Research regarding the fireworks community survey.
Mark Evanoff, Deputy City Manager
Mark Evanoff, Deputy City Manager