+ " If Your Neighborhood Gets Pounded (Again) By Illegal Fireworks/Explosives, Here's The LB City Council's 2020 Record On The Issue
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If Your Neighborhood Gets Pounded (Again) By Illegal Fireworks/Explosives, Here's The LB City Council's 2020 Record On The Issue



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If your neighborhood is among those pounded by illegal fireworks and explosives during the New Year period, consider the LB City Council's record in 2020 on the issue:

  • (1) Councilmembers let city management break its June 23, 2020 word by failing to deliver a Council-sought "Illegal Explosives and Fireworks Action Plan" by mid October. (Councilman Al Austin, then seeking a third term, agendized the "Illegal Explosives And Fireworks Action Plan" although his agendized item and motion to approve (9=0) didn't specify a date for future action.)

  • (2) On July, 14, 2020, after hundreds of July 4th calls for service produced barely 36 fireworks-related citations, Councilmembers Mary Zendejas and Jeannine Pearce agendized an item seeking tougher penalties. Councilman Austin asked City Manager Tom Modica "When do you expect to have a report back?...When can we expect a report back on those items that we passed just a few weeks ago on the Fireworks Action Plan?" City Manager Modica replied: "I don't have a date yet for that. I think we had looked at about a 90 day, if I remember the item for the first kind of check-in, and this also calls for a 90 day, so we'll set our clock to that and get as much of that information as we can by that time." Councilwoman Zendejas then moved the goal post further in the wrong direction, inviting additional delay by asking to combine a report on tougher penalties with Austin's "Illegal Fireworks Action Plan." "Certainly," replied City Manager Modica. "We can build on some of the research we've done in the past...and we will combine these two together because they do speak to very similar items and bring those back. We're hearing you, there's a lot of questions that you have and [we] want to do kind of a bigger comprehensive report of all the issues."

  • (3) On November 14, 2020, Councilmembers voted to let Councilwoman Suzie Price spend $3,500 create a cartoon animated "public service message" on illegal fireworks. (This was an actual City Council item agendized by Councilwoman Price. Councilman Richardson made the motion to approve, seconded by Councilwoman Pearce, which carried 8-0 (with Price absent on the vote.)



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    A December 23, 2020 city mgm't memo to the Mayor and Council describes City Hall's current plans, which amount mainly to repeating practices of previous years:.

    ("[T]he City will reiterate to our community, through our ongoing Celebrate Safely campaign, that fireworks activity is illegal in Long Beach. Social media posts with holiday themed Celebrate Safely graphics will be shared across platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A graphic with messaging will be placed on the Cityís website on the homepage carousel, and messaging will also be placed on the freeway billboard and digital message boards deployed throughout the city. A press release will also be issued that provides the community with: information about the illegality of fireworks; the repercussions of using them; how to provide the Police Department and the City Prosecutorís Office with information and evidence of people illegally using fireworks; and, ideas on how to Celebrate Safely.social network messaging,,,[LBPD] will dedicate additional police officers [comment: how many, after the Council voted in Sept. 2020 to defund nearly sworn 50 officers?] to "conduct proactive enforcement while providing high visibility patrols...[T]his enhanced posture will be data driven, focused in areas previously identified as having high fireworks activity, and strategically deployed..."
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    Management's Dec. 23 memo gives no indication that LB city staff have discussed with the City of Lakewood that city's use of administrative enforcement which applies the city's fireworks laws with higher fines that avoid the criminal justice system. (LBREPORT.com coverage here.)

    Administrative enforcement lets Lakewood (and multiple other cities using it) more readily prevail in its fireworks cases with a easier burden of proof for the city to meet. (A hearing officer instead of a court judge can rule for the city based on a preponderance of the evidence instead of criminal law's "proof beyond a reasonable doubt.")

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    Administrative enforcement also avoids delays encountered in the criminal justice system. LB City Prosecutor Doug Haubert notes that his office (tasked with filing misdemeanor criminal cases) has filed a total of 76 cases, nearly all based on LBPD citations (including cases from seizures of large quantities sold to undercover officers.)

    However courts frequently grant "continuances" (delays) for reasons that now include COVID-19. City Prosecutor Haubert says the Superior Court has continued misdemeanor cases for some time and some fireworks cases have been continued several times with new court dates now into February. And on Dec. 31, 2020, a broadly based Superior Court order continues misdemeanor criminal trials through at least Jan. 28, 2021.

    Administrative enforcement would avoid these issues while admittedly raising others..but LB's policy setting City Council hasn't seriously discussed applying administrative enforcement here. One may speculate that Long Beach, which has a politically powerful police officers union (LBPOA PAC) that has helped elect/re-elect several Councilmembers (most recently Cindy Allen in CD 2 and Al Austin in CD 8) may not favor having non-sworn personnel perform tasks currently performed by LBPOA-represented sworn officers.

    Happy New Year.

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