Lakewood Does This To Impose Heftier Fines With Easier To Enforce Citations Against Fireworks/Explosives Scofflaws. Long Beach Doesn't. Should We?
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(July 19, 2020, 2:20 p.m.) -- On July 4, 2020, in the City of Lakewood (with just under 80,000 residents) L.A. County Sheriff Deputies issued 55 fireworks-related citations. During the same period, in the City of Long Beach (with over 472,000 residents) the Long Beach Police Department issued 13 fireworks-related citations.
The difference is more than numerical; it's substantive. The two cities issue very different types of fireworks citations with very different legal processes..
The City of Lakewood issues civil citations. It uses "administrative enforcement" that imposes hefty civil fines (that Lakewood's City Council increased in 2018 to sums that can exceed criminal misdemeanors.) The civil citations don't require criminal court trials, judges, prosecutors or proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The person cited can pay the fine or contest the citation in a civil (non court) hearing (in which the City has an easier to meet standard of proof than a criminal trial.) If the hearing officer finds for the City, the cited person can pay the fine or appeal in court. Unless a court overturns the hearing's findings, the cited person either pays the fine or the city can apply various unpleasant civil proceedings to collect the fine (and under Lakewood's rules failure to abate a cited condition also becomes a separately enforceable misdemeanor.)
A number of other area cities also use civil administrative enforcement; the process differs from cit to city, it's decided by their respective City Councils. The City of Long Beach doesn't use administrative enforcement. That's because the Long Beach City Council has for years failed to pursue the use of civil administrative enforcement and accepted recommendations to date by LB city management not to pursue it. The result requires Long Beach residents and businesses to rely on their City's near exclusive use of the more difficult to use and prove criminal legal process.
[Scroll down for further.]
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The 13 citations written by LBPD on July 4 are misdemeanor criminal citations. That means each one of them will require involvement of the City Prosecutorís office to use the criminal justice process. For each one, the City Prosecutor must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt (a standard harder to meet than the civil standard and filled with defenses for the defendant.) If the City Prosecutor gets a conviction (after a trial or a guilty plea), the sentence depends on a judge. Unless the circumstances are especially egregious, jail time may be unlikely, leaving only a fine (that may be less than administrative enforcement could allow.
Lakewood began using administrative enforcement in roughly 2008. On May 22, 2018, the Lakewood City Council voted to increase the amount of its fines (see Lakewood city manager's May 22, 2018 agendizing memo below.).
As a result of the Lekewood City Council's action, the City of Lakewood has the following as part of its Municipal Code: LBREPRT.com quotes it at length to show its full operation:
LAKEWOOD MUNICIPAL CODE Section 4900
ADMINISTRATIVE CITATION PROVISIONS
Added by Ord. 2004- 3)
A. ADMINISTRATIVE CITATION. This Chapter provides for administrative citations that are in addition
to all other legal remedies, criminal and civil, which may be pursued by the City to address any violations of this
Code and other ordinances of the City. This Chapter does not apply to violations of Part 5, Chapter 2, Article
III, commencing with Section 3250, of the Lakewood Municipal Code.
B. ADMINISTRATIVE FINE. An administrative fine shall be assessed by means of an administrative
citation issued by an Enforcement Officer, and shall be paid directly to the City of Lakewood. Fines shall be
established in an administrative fine schedule adopted by resolution of the City Council. Fines shall be collected
in accord with the procedures specified in this chapter. Payment of a fine shall not excuse failure to correct the
violation nor shall it bar further enforcement action by the City.
C. ADMINISTRATIVE CITATIONS THAT MAY BE TREATED AS MISDEMEANORS. Any person
who violates the same provision, or fails to comply with the same requirement, of the Lakewood Municipal Code
more than three times within a twelve-month period shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for each violation
committed thereafter within the same twelve- month period. Any person who violates or fails to comply with this
code and who refuses to identify himself or herself to an enforcement officer, making it impossible to issue an
administrative citation, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
A. " CITY" means the City of Lakewood.
B. " CITED PARTY" means a legally responsible person who has been issued an administrative citation.
C. " CONTINUING VIOLATION" means any condition or activity in violation of the Municipal Code or
ordinances that continues beyond the date given in the administrative citation to correct the violation.
D. " ENFORCEMENT OFFICER" means any employee of the City of Lakewood or agent for the City
authorized to enforce provisions of this code.
E. " LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE PERSON" means any person who creates, allows, commits, or maintains
a violation of the Lakewood Municipal Code or a Lakewood ordinance. It includes a natural person, heirs,
executors, administrators, assigns, firm, partnership, corporation, its successors or assigns, or the agent of any
of the aforesaid. The term" legally responsible person" includes but is not limited to a property owner, tenant,
person with a legal interest in real property, or person in possession of real property.
F. " LEGAL INTEREST" means any interest that is represented by a deed, deed of trust, quitclaim deed,
mortgage, lease, judgment lien, tax or assessment lien, mechanic' s lien or other similar interest, which is
recorded with the County Recorder.
G. " HEARING OFFICER" means the person designated by the City Manager to determine the validity of the
violation stated on the citation.
4902. SCOPE. This chapter provides for administrative penalties for any violation of this code or a City ordinance,
which may be pursued in lieu of any other legal remedy, criminal or civil, to address any such violation of this code. The
city attorney, city prosecutor, or their assistants, have sole discretion to determine whether a violation will be prosecuted
criminally or civilly or otherwise as authorized by law.
4903. ADMINISTRATIVE CITATION.
A. AUTHORITY TO CITE. Whenever an Enforcement Officer determines that a violation of this Code or
a City ordinance has occurred, the Enforcement Officer shall have the discretion to issue an administrative
citation, in lieu of a judicial citation or misdemeanor, to any legally responsible person. ( Amended by Ord. 2014- 4)
B. CITATION CONTENTS. Administrative citations shall contain the following:
1. The date and location of the violation and the approximate time the violation was observed;
2. The code section or ordinance violated and a description of how the section was violated;
3. The actions required to correct the violation;
4. An order prohibiting the continuation or the repeated occurrence of the code violation;
5. The consequences of failing to correct the violation;
6. The amount of the fine imposed for the violation;
7. The date by which a fine must be paid;
8. The location at which a fine must be paid;
9. Information regarding the procedures to contest the citation;
10. The name and signature of the enforcement officer.
4904. AMOUNT OF FINE.
A. SCHEDULE OF FINES. The amount of the fine imposed for a code violation shall be set forth in the
schedule of administrative fines established by resolution of the City Council.
B. REPEAT VIOLATIONS. The schedule of administrative fines shall specify any increased fines for repeat
violations of the same code provisions by the same responsible person within 12 months from the date of an
C. LATE CHARGES. The schedule ofadministrative fines shall specify the amount of any charges imposed
for the payment of a fine after its due date.
4905. SATISFACTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE CITATION.
A. TIME TO PAY. The fine shall be paid to the City within 30 days from the date of the administrative
B. WAIVER OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING. Payment ofthe fine without requesting an administrative
hearing waives the cited party' s right to the administrative hearing and appeal process.
D. REQUEST AN ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING. A cited party may contest a citation in writing, not later
than 15 days after service of the citation. The request shall be submitted in writing as directed on the citation and
shall include a statement of reasons the citation is being contested. The request shall be accompanied by a
deposit in the full amount of the fine or a request for an advance deposit hardship waiver.
A hearing will not be scheduled unless the full amount of the fine is deposited, or the City finds the cited
party unable to do so and waives the deposit requirement.
A request for an advance deposit hardship waiver shall be filed at the Community Development Department
on an advance deposit hardship waiver application form, available from the department, at the time an
administrative hearing is requested. The Director of Finance or his designee may issue an advance deposit
hardship waiver but only if the person requesting the waiver submits a sworn affidavit, together with supporting
documents, demonstrating to the satisfaction of the Director ofFinance the person' s financial inability to deposit
with the City the full amount of the fine in advance of the hearing. Documentation of financial hardship must
include, at a minimum, tax returns, financial statements, bank account records, salary records, or similar
documents acceptable to the Director of Finance, demonstrating that the cited party is unable to deposit the fine.
The Director of Finance or his designee shall issue a written decision specifying the reasons for issuing or
denying the waiver. The decision shall be served by United States mail or by personal service upon the cited
party. If service is by mail, service is complete upon depositing the decision in the mail. If the Director of
Finance or his designee determines that an advance deposit hardship waiver is not warranted, the cited party
shall remit the full amount of the fine to the City within 10 days of service of the written decision to grant or
deny an advance deposit hardship waiver.
Amended by Ord. 2014- 4)
4906. ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING AND APPEAL PROCESS.
A. ADVANCE DEPOSIT OF FINE. No hearing to contest an administrative citation before a Hearing Officer
shall be held unless the fine has been deposited in advance in accord with Section 4905. 13, or an advance deposit
hardship waiver has been issued in accord with Section 4905. D.
B. PREHEARING DISMISSAL OF CITATION. The City Attorney or City Prosecutor may dismiss an
administrative citation at any time if it is determined to have been issued in error, in which event any deposit
will be refunded.
C. TIME OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING. The administrative hearing shall be scheduled not later than
60 days after receipt of the request for a hearing to contest the citation. The cited party shall be notified in
writing at least ten days before the date of the hearing of the date, time and location ofthe hearing. Notice may
be served personally upon the cited person or mailed by U. S. mail with first class postage prepaid. Mailed notice
shall be addressed to the property owner as shown on the last available equalized tax roll, or if there is no such
address then in care of the property address. If the cited party is not the property owner, the notice shall be
mailed to the last known address of the cited party.
Service of notice is complete upon personal service on the cited party or upon depositing the notice of
hearing in the U.S. mail in Lakewood, California. Failure of any person to receive the mailed notice shall not
affect the validity of any proceeding or order regarding administrative citations.
D. APPOINTMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING OFFICER. The hearing shall be conducted by
an Administrative Hearing Officer appointed by the City Manager to perform such hearings.
E. REQUEST FOR CONTINUANCE OF HEARING. The cited party may request one continuance of the
hearing, but in no event may the continued hearing begin later than ninety days after receipt of the request for
hearing from the cited party.
F. FAILURE TO ATTEND ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING. The cited party, or that person' s
representative, may attend the hearing in person or, in lieu of attending, may submit an Appearance by Written
Declaration on a form provided by the City for that purpose.
1. If the cited party or his or her representative fails to attend the scheduled hearing and fails to submit
an Appearance by Written Declaration on the form provided by the City for that purpose, he or she shall
have waived his or her right to an administrative hearing. The Administrative Hearing Officer shall then
dismiss the challenge to the administrative citation, and shall mail a written notice to that effect to the cited
party. The advance deposit shall then become the property of the City.
2. A cited party who has requested an administrative hearing may request in writing that his or her
challenge to the citation be dismissed and the hearing canceled. Upon receipt of such request, the Director
of Community Development shall dismiss the challenge to the administrative citation, cancel the pending
hearing, and issue a written notice to that effect. The advance deposit shall then become the property of the
City. ( Amended by Ord. 2014- 4)
3. If a hearing was scheduled after approval of an advance deposit hardship waiver form and then
dismissed at the request of the cited party, the cited party shall pay the fine to the City within 7 days after
written notice to do so. If the cited party obtained an advance deposit hardship waiver and neither attended
the hearing nor submitted an Appearance by Written Declaration, the cited party shall pay the fine to the
City within 7 days after written notice to do so.
G. PROCEDURE AT ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING. Administrative hearings are informal, and formal
rules of evidence and discovery do not apply. Hearsay evidence is permitted. Evidence shall be relevant to the
issues to be decided. Each party shall have the opportunity to present evidence in support ofhis or her case and
to cross- examine witnesses. The city bears the burden of proof at an administrative hearing to establish a
violation. The citation is prima facie evidence of the violation. The enforcement officer who issued the citation
is not required to participate in the hearing unless requested by the cited party. The Administrative Hearing
Officer shall use preponderance of the evidence as the standard of proof in deciding the issues. Evidence shall
be submitted under penalty of perjury.
H. DECISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING OFFICER. At the conclusion of the hearing or within
15 days thereafter, the Administrative Hearing Officer shall render a decision as follows:
1. Determine that the violation for which the citation was issued occurred, and require payment of the
pertinent fine not later than seven days after the date of such determination, in the event that an Advanced
Deposit Hardship Waiver had been approved. If the violation has not been corrected by the date of the
hearing, the Director ofCommunity Development shall send a notice ofthe required correction date, within
10 days of receipt of the Administrative Hearing Officer' s decision.
2. Determine that the violation for which the citation was issued occurred, but that the responsible party
has introduced credible evidence of mitigating circumstance warranting imposition of a lesser fine than that
prescribed in the schedule of administrative fines, or no fine at all, and imposing such lesser fine, if any.
3. Determine that the violation for which the citation was issued did not occur or that the condition did
not constitute a violation of the code.
L ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER. The Administrative Hearing Officer shall issue a written decision entitled
Administrative Order" no later than fifteen days after the date on which the administrative hearing concludes.
The Administrative Order shall be served upon the responsible person by personal service or by first class mail
as provided in Section 4906. C.
The Administrative Order shall become final on the date of mailing or other service; it shall notify the
responsible person of his or her right to appeal as provided in subsection K of this section. If the hearing officer
determines as described in subsection H.2 or H.3 immediately above, and the responsible party has deposited the
penalty with the City, the Administrative Order shall order a partial or full refund of the deposit. ( Amended by Ord.
J. FINE DUE.
1. If the Administrative Order imposes a fine in the amount set forth in the schedule of administrative
fines, or imposes a fine in a lesser amount, and the cited party has filed, and the Director of Finance has
approved, an advance deposit hardship waiver, then the fine imposed shall become immediately due and
owing to the City and if not paid may be collected as provided in this chapter.
2. If the fine was paid to the City before the administrative hearing and the Administrative Order imposes
a fine in that amount, the fine paid shall immediately become the property of the City. If a fine is imposed
in an amount less than the amount paid to the City before the administrative hearing, the amount imposed
shall immediately become the property of the City and the excess shall be refunded within 30 days of the
date of the Administrative Order.
K. APPEAL OF ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER. A cited party who objects to the Hearing Officer' s
administrative order may obtain review of the administrative citation by filing an appeal with the Superior Court
in Los Angeles County in accord with Section 53069. 4 of the California Government Code. Such appeal must
be filed within twenty days after mailing or personal service of the Administrative Order to the cited party. The
cited party shall within 10 days of filing a notice of appeal with the Superior Court serve upon the City Clerk
either in person or by first- class mail a copy of the notice of appeal. If the responsible person fails to timely file
a notice of appeal, the Administrative Order shall be final.
L. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER. Failure to comply with an
Administrative Order directing the abatement of a continuing violation is a misdemeanor. In that event, or if
the City prevails in an appeal of such an Order to the Superior Court and the cited party does not comply with
the Administrative Order, the City may file a criminal misdemeanor action against the cited party. Filing a
criminal misdemeanor action does not preclude the City from using any other legal remedy available to gain
compliance with the Administrative Order.
M. ONLY ABATEMENT DISCHARGES THE VIOLATION. Payment ofthe fine under this Chapter shall
not excuse nor discharge any continuation or repeated occurrence of the code violation that is the subject of the
administrative citation. Only abatement of the cited condition discharges the violation.
4907. LATE PAYMENT CHARGES. Any cited person who fails to pay the City any fine imposed in accord with this
Chapter on or before the date that the fine is due shall be liable for the payment of any applicable late payment charges
set forth in the schedule of administrative fines.
4908. COLLECTION OF DELINQUENT FINES. The City may use all available legal means to collect past due fines
and other related costs.
1. Any person who fails to pay any fine shall be liable in any action or collection procedure brought by the
city for all costs incurred to obtain payment of the delinquent amount, including, but not limited to,
administrative costs, collection costs, and attorneys' fees.
2. Collection costs shall be in addition to any penalties, interest, and late charges imposed upon the
3. Commencement of an action to collect a delinquent fine shall not preclude issuance of one or more
additional citations to the legally responsible party if the violation or violations persist after the date for
correcting them as stated in the Administrative Order.
4908. 1. COLLECTION BY LIEN. If the fine owed by a cited party is for one or more Lakewood Municipal Code or
City ordinance violations on the cited party' s property, and the citation was issued to abate a nuisance as defined by the
Lakewood Municipal Code or City ordinance, and the amount has been delinquent 90 days or more, the delinquent
amount shall become a lien on the property on which the violations occurred.
4908. 2 NOTICE OF LIEN HEARING. The Director ofFinance shall give written notice to the cited party ofa hearing
before the City Council regarding the delinquent fine amount and related costs. The notice shall be mailed by first class
mail at least 14 days before the hearing. The notice shall state:
1. The citation or citations resulting in the delinquent fine amount;
2. The total of the delinquent fine amount and related costs;
3. The date the delinquent fine amount was due;
4. The street address, Assessor' s parcel number, and legal description of the property upon which the
5. The date, hour, and place of the hearing;
6. A statement that the cited party or other legally responsible person may appear and be heard;
7. A statement that unless the fine amount is paid by the date specified in a resolution by the City Council,
the total amount due will become a lien and special assessment on the property.
4908. 3 LIEN HEARING. At the lien hearing the City Council shall:
1. Hear and consider all competent evidence about the delinquent fine amount;
2. If it finds the amount is delinquent, make a finding of fact confirming that the delinquent fine amount
and related costs are due the City as costs of nuisance abatement;
3. Order the total amount due to be paid to the City within 5 days, after which the amount due will become
a lien on the property.
4908. 4 RECORDED LIEN. If the amount due is not paid within 5 days after the City Council confirms it and orders
it paid, the amount due shall constitute a lien upon the real property upon which the nuisance violations existed and shall
be a special assessment against the property. The lien shall continue until the amount due and interest, computed at 6%
per annum from the date of the City Council' s confirmation, is paid or until it is discharged of record.
If the amount due is not paid as required by the City Council' s order, a notice of lien shall be recorded in the
Office of the County Recorder and delivered to the County Tax Collector. The notice of lien shall substantially be in the
NOTICE OF LIEN
CLAIM OF THE CITY OF LAKEWOOD
By the authority of Lakewood Municipal Codeß 4903, an administrative citation or citations were issued
regarding nuisance abatement at the real property described below. Fines were assessed for the
nuisance. By action of the Lakewood City Council, recorded in its official minutes, the fines and related
costs were confirmed as delinquent and assessed against the property as costs of nuisance abatement.
The delinquent amount was not paid, therefore the City of Lakewood claims a lien on the real property
for the costs of abatement in the amount of$ which shall be a lien on the real property until
it is paid, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the day of 2_[ insert the
date the City Council confirmed the delinquent fines and related costs]. The lien shall continue until
paid in full and discharged of record. It shall also be a personal obligation against [ insert name of
property owner]. The real property upon which a lien is claimed is that certain parcel of land in the
City of Lakewood, County of Los Angeles, State of California, described as follows:
Insert legal description.]
Dated this day of 2
CITY OF LAKEWOOD
Director of Finance
LAKEWOOD MUNICIPAL CODE Section 4908. 5
4908. 5 SPECIAL ASSESSMENT. After the lien is confirmed and recorded, a certified copy of it shall be filed with
the County Auditor. The description of the parcel reported to the Auditor shall be the one used by the County Assessor' s
map book for the current year. The County Auditor shall enter each assessment on the county tax roll for the reported
parcel of land. The amount of the assessment shall be collected at the time and in the manner of ordinary municipal taxes.
If delinquent, the amount is subject to the same penalties and procedure of foreclosure provided for ordinary municipal
taxes. As an alternative method, the County Tax Collector, in his discretion, may collect the assessment without reference
to the general taxes, by issuing separate bills and receipts for the assessment. Laws relating to the levy, collection, and
enforcement of county taxes shall apply to such special assessment.
The Director ofFinance may receive the amount due on the abatement costs and issue receipts at any time after
the confirmation of the statement, before August 1 st of that current year. The City Council may order a refund of any lien
or assessment paid under this section if it finds that all or part of the assessment has been erroneously levied. An
assessment or part thereof shall not be refunded unless a claim is filed with the City Clerk on or before March 1st after
taxes become due and payable. The claim shall be verified by the person who pays the tax, or his guardian, executor, or
4909. RECOVERY OF CODE ENFORCEMENT ABATEMENT COSTS. The administrative citation process
described in this Chapter does not preclude the City from recovering any other code violation or nuisance abatement costs
incurred by the City in performing its code enforcement efforts.
4910. SERVICE PROCEDURES FOR ISSUING ADMINISTRATIVE CITATIONS. An administrative citation
in a form approved by the City Attorney may be issued to a legally responsible person by an Enforcement Officer as set
forth in Section 4903 of this Chapter in the following manner:
A. PERSONAL SERVICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE CITATION. In any case where an administrative
citation is issued to an individual, corporation, or a business, the Enforcement Officer shall attempt to:
1. Locate the individual, corporation, or business and serve the administrative citation on the responsible
2. Obtain on the administrative citation the signature of the person in violation of this Code, or in cases
in which the violation of this Code is by a corporation or business, the signature of an employee or agent.
3. If the cited party refuses or is unavailable to sign the administrative citation, the refusal to sign or
unavailability shall not affect the validity of the citation or of subsequent proceedings. Refusal or
unavailability to sign the administrative citation shall be noted on the citation.
B. SERVICE OF CITATION BY MAIL. If the Enforcement Officer is unable to serve the cited party, the
administrative citation shall be mailed to the responsible person by certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt
requested. Simultaneously, the same notice may be sent by regular mail. If a notice sent by certified mail is
returned unsigned, then service shall be deemed effective by regular mail, if the notice that was sent by regular
mail was not returned by the Post Office within a reasonable time.
C. SERVICE OF CITATION BY POSTING NOTICE. If the Enforcement Officer does not succeed in
serving the cited party personally, or by certified mail or regular mail, the Enforcement Officer shall post the
administrative citation on any real property within the City in which the City has knowledge that the cited party
has a legal interest or which the cited party occupies, and such posting shall be effective service.
D. SERVICE OF CITATION BY PUBLICATION. Ifthe Enforcement Officer does not succeed in serving
the cited party personally, by certified or regular mail, and the City is not aware that the responsible party has
a legal interest in any real property within the City, the Enforcement Officer shall cause the administrative
citation to be published in a newspaper likely to give actual notice to the cited party. The publication shall be
once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper published at least once a week. A newspaper regularly
circulated or delivered in Lakewood is a newspaper likely to give actual notice.
Where's Long Beach?
On July 21, 2017 (following a July 4th marked by "warzone level" fireworks), LBREPORT.com published a report describing how other cities use administrative citations to deal with fireworks scofflaws. Written in a constructive tone, LBREPORT.com noted that administrative citations can carry hefty fines and the process differs from city to city, decided by their individual City Councils. No LB Council incumbents publicly pursued the option.
On July 24, 2018 (after another year of "warzone" level fireworks), Councilwoman Suzie Price, joined by Councilmembers Pearce, Supernaw and Austin, agendized an item requesting a city management "report on [the] feasibility of implementing expanded fireworks enforcement/administrative remedies." Their agendizing memo stated in part:
Cities throughout the state have adopted additional, more aggressive approaches to llegal firework use, demonstrating that more can be done. Based on the impact on quality of life for our residents, the timing is ripe for Long Beach to adopt new tools based on best practices from other municipalities.
An administrative citation, being a civil citation and not punishable by jail nor appearing on a criminal record, would be established with the goal of improving quality of life by promoting and protecting the public health, safety, and welfare for residents. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, the use of an Administrative Citation could improve compliance and give
the City an another method to use in seeking consistent compliance with fireworks ordinances in addition to its current tools of enforcement.
At the July 24, 2018 Council meeting, Councilwoman Price moved. seconded by Austin, that the City Manager provide a report on how the City can expand its enforcement of fireworks violations through ordinance changes, the City's ability to enhance and/or develop an
administrative citation process for fireworks violations" and include information on methods of possible video enforcement. The item carried 8-0 (Mungo absent but was present earlier in meeting.)
On March 15, 2019, in response to the Council's July 24, 2018 action, city management sent a non-agendized memo to the Mayor and City Council. It amounted to a collection of reasons for a management recommendation against using administrative enforcement in Long Beach. Management's memo, which can be viewed in full here, recommended against the use of administrative enforcement in Long Beach.
Management's March 15, 2019 memo didn't provide details of Lakewood's use of administrative enforcement [that you read above,] Instead, LB city management estimated LB's costs would include $35,000 to deploy LBPD officers and LBFD arson investigators plus $40,000 to purchase two special law enforcement drones. It estimated long-term costs would include another Deputy City Attorney position ($210,000) plus a minimum of 300 hours of administrative code enforcement work ($19,500, to review video evidence and process administrative appeals, plus a hearing officer on appeals at $150 per case.
And management said using city staff represented by employee unions would require meet-and-confer proceedings under the Meyers-Milias Brown Act.
Management's memo concluded: "Due to the legal and safety concerns involved, coupled with anticipated large costs, it is not recommended that the City implement an administrative citation process. Instead, it is recommended that the city managerís office explore the feasibility with the City Prosecutorís office of implementing a system or process of where the public may report the illegal use of fireworks."
No Long Beach Council incumbents challenged city managementís reasoning. None publicly asked how and why other cities (including LB's neighbors) manage do what LB city management argues the City of LB shoudln't do.
The four Councilmembers (Price, Supernaw, Pearce, Austin) who agendized the July 24 2018 Council item -- in which they recited reasons for pursuing administrative enforcement -- essentially folded. They and their Council colleagues didn't agendize any response to management's negative recommendation for public discussion.
One may speculate as to why that happened. It's a matter of record that the City of Long Beach has politically active public employee unions, including the LB Police Officers Ass'n and the Int'l Ass'n of Machinists (non public safety employees) who could have their self-serving (as opposed to public serving) reasons for resisting use of administrative enforcement. Lakewood management and Councilmembers don't face similar pressures from public employee unions. Lakewood delivers services to its taxpayers using contracted services (including LASD for policing), not city employees represented by politically active unions.
On July 4 2019, multiple LB neighborhoods again reported "warzone" level fireworks. In addition, in the months that followed, social network reports from neighborhoods (mainly Wrigley and part of NLB) reported continuing mortar launched rockets and ground based explosives. Some residents (especially Wrigley) said the explosives occurred near nightly. No Councilmembers agendized actions in response.
Faced with no meaningful Council responses, Long Beach residents created a "Long Beach Against Illegal Fireworks" Facebook page. Multiple comments appeared criticizing City Hall's defenses for the status quo. Some rejected LB City Hall responses, comparing them to actions taken by other cities.
Since its launch in late May, the Facebook page gathered over 1,700 followers by mid-June. That got Council incumbents' attention.
On June 23, 2020, two incumbents facing re-election in November 2020, Al Austin and Dee Andrews, joined by Councilmembers Zendejas and Richardson, agendized an item calling for a "Illegal Explosives and Fireworks Action Plan" that directed city management to pursue seven fireworks-related actions. One of the seven actions was: "Request City Attorney and City Manager to report back to the City Council on the feasibility of including an administrative citation process for illegal fireworks use, to allow for additional enforcement capability in Long Beach."
The June 23, 2020 agenda item (amended to include a recommendation that the city advocate for a statewide ban) carried 9-0.
After July 4, 2020
The June 23, 2020 Council agenda item came too late to affect what took place on July 4, 2020 (which in the estimation of many was worse than in previous years in Long Beach and elsewhere.)
As of 3:30 a.m. July 5, LBFD Public Information Office Capt. Jack Crabtree said LBFD had responded to roughly 20 fires, 10 of which were tree-related, 8 involved brush/grass related fires and two involved dumpster or roof-related fires.
One of the ten trees that somehow caught fire on July 4 was on Knoxville Ave. south of Heartwell Park in the Carson Park neighborhood. Ghazal Seino, who captued the scene (photo below),
July 4, tree set afire, Knoxville Ave. near Heartwell Park. Photo courtesy Ghazal Seino
Some residents said LBPD units drove past and didn't stop illegal fireworks activity. One such incident in NLB was captured on video. See LBREPORT.com coverage here.
In the roughly two weeks since July 4th, LB residents in mainly Wrigley, Central LB and parts of NLB continue to report mortar launched rockets and ground based explosives.
On July 14, 2020, LB Councilmembers Zendejas, Pearce, Andrews and Uranga, agendized an item seeking a city management report with options to increase "the overall amount an individual caught storing, transporting, or deploying illegal fireworks pays when cited within the City of Long Beach." Their agendizing memo doesn't mention administrtive enforcement but does state:
...As the City works to find solutions to importation, the sale of, and ways to enforce igniting fireworks there is one thing we can do immediately: raise the overall financial penalty. The City of Lakewood's website states: The city is enhancing its current fine of $1,000 for illegal fireworks use by adding a $250 Fire Marshal disposal fee and other charges that will double the penalty to $2,000 or more. Oakland, California in an effort to curb illegal fireworks, sent out a press release stating fines of up to $10,000 plus imprisonment
At the July 14 Council meeting, public speakers included residents active on the "Long Beach Against Illegal Fireworks" Facebook page. They strongly urged the City Council to take action, including increasing fines...but none explicitly called for implementing administrative enforcement in Long Beach.
Long Beach City staff indicated that it could provide a report on the items sought in the July 14 and June 23 agenda items within about 90 days (some time in October.) No Councilmembers insisted on a more rapid response. City staff didn't indicate whether its forthcoming report will be agendized for City Council action or simply sent in memo form to the Mayor/Council (as city management did with its May 2019 memo recommending against administrative enforcement.) .
To see how the City of Lakewood addressed its residents about what took place this July 4th, see July 8, 2020 video below by Lakewood Mayor Todd Rogers. Mayor Rogers discusses fireworks and enforcement in the video.
In the video, Mayor Rogers candidly acknowledges the obvious: even Lakewood's aggressive administrative enforcement isn't a panacea. He said a mortar launched rocket landed on his home's roof.
Whether LB's policy setting City Council allows continuation of LB's near exclusive reliance on criminal prosecution or takes actions to t implement civil administrative enforcement will become publicly visible in the coming weeks and months.
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