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Deterring Or Inviting Continued Fireworks Scofflaws? Your Councilmember (All Of Them) Accepted -- Without Agendizing For Public Discussion -- City Mgm't Recommendation We Reported Nearly Three Months Ago Against Using Administrative Enforcement (Fines Not Requiring "Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt.") It's Used By Several Other Cities. Here's What LB Council Accepted Instead is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
Publisher's perspective: Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with management's recommendation against applying administrative enforcement (used by a number of other cities) to deter fireworks scofflaws, city management doesn't set city policy; a City Council majority decides policy (on which the Mayor has no vote, only a veto that six Councilmembers can override.) On this issue, LB Councilmembers chose not to give LB taxpayers an opportunity to be heard on non-elected management's position or use their power as elected policy-setting Councilmembers to pursue a different course. On March 28, reported city management's position contained in this memo. invites our readers to compare our coverage on this citywide impacting issue with what you may have read elsewhere.

[Scroll down for further.]

(June 16, 2019, 12:05 p.m., updated July 17, 11:03 a.m.) -- On March 15, 2019, Long Beach city management sent Long Beach City Councilmembers and the Mayor this non-agendized memo that recommended against using administrative enforcement -- methods that carry hefty fines but don't require police resources or proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" -- currently used by a number of other cities to deter fireworks scofflaws.

Management's March 15, 2019 memo acknowledged the following:

  • Of 16 area cities, 9 cities use administrative enforcement (two use it with misdemeanor criminal enforcement.) The nine cities that use it are: Anaheim, Rancho Cucamonga, Garden Grove, Pasadena, Norwalk, Lakewood and Paramount; Irvine and Downey combine administrative enforcement with misdemeanor criminal enforcement.

  • Online administrative enforcement (in which a complaining party can provide the city with video or photo evidence) can be sufficient to levy a fine but if the cited person appeals the reporting party would have to appear as a witness or provide sufficient evidence to sustain the fine (although by less than the difficult to meet criminal law standard of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt."

  • At least one CA city (Seaside in Central CA) used a drone over the July 4, 2018 period, and if the drone spotted a violation, the city sent a citation/fine to the property owner.



Management offered the following reasoning to recommend against using administrative enforcement in Long Beach:

  • Management estimated LB's daily cost to implement "all of the methods" of administrative enforcement would include $35,000 to deploy LBPD officers and LBFD arson investigators plus $40,000 to purchase two special law enforcement drones. [Comment: It wasn't and isn't necessary to apply "all" of the possible administrative measures. Choosing to apply some in a pilot project may or may not prove productive. Citing only the hefty estimated cost for using "all" possible administrative enforcement measures basically inflated a more realistic cost of applying some of them.]

  • Management noted a safety concern for personnel. "LBPD and LBFD arson patrol personnel express significant safety concern" with the public contacts on July 4. "Many of the contacts involve rowdy crowds of over 30 people coupled with alcohol consumption, greatly increasing the danger and risk for patrol personnel." [Comment: Not all of the administrative measures require in-crowd public contacts.]

  • Management 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. [Comment: Do other cities incur such sizable additional costs? If so, how do they manage and minimize them?]

  • Management said using city staff to handle administrative enforcement would require "meet and confer" proceedings with city employee unions under the Meyers-Milias Brown Act. [Comment: Yes, and city employee unions will predictably contend the added work wasn't bargained for. So how do other cities deal with this? With new contracts coming up, if it's not already clear, this might be an opportune time to ensure these duties are included in what's bargained for.]

Management concluded:

Given the significant immediate and long-term costs, legal concerns, potential lawsuits involving privacy issues, and the substantial administrative resources required, it is not recommended that the City implement and online reporting tool or a drone surveillance tool for fireworks enforcement. Implementing an extensive administrative citation program to enforce fireworks violations will require additional analysis to determine exact costs for additional resources and staff time...There are also significant concerns with the increased risk and danger to City staff when conducting enforcement of large crowds in areas of high activity during the Fourth of July holiday..." and added:



What's taking place now occurs nearly two years after a number of LB neighborhoods experienced what residents described "warzone" levels of contraband fireworks. These included mortar launched shells, aerial rockets and ground based bombs that are legal in other states but illegal statewide in CA. Although some used the term "warzone" in previous years, the July 4, 2017 level was undeniably high citywide and especially intense in neighborhoods west of Redondo Ave. and north of Del Amo Blvd.

July 21, 2017: followed-up by doing some basic research and published a Perspective piece titled: "Fireworks Fiasco Follow-Up: Council's Public Safety Committee Makes No Voted Recommendations To Council; Unmentioned: Some Cities Impose Administrative (Non-Criminal) Fines Up To $1,000, Some Aided By Smartphone Video...So Why Isn't Long Beach?" at this link. Our report described how other cities use administrative citations -- civil notices, not misdemeanor criminal charges -- that don't require police or other sworn peace officers because non-sworn city employees can issue administrative fireworks notices of violation carrying fines. Our piece acknowledged that administrative citations aren't a panacea (cities that use administrative enforcement still have fireworks scofflaws) and the process differs from city to city and could range from handing out an administrative citations in the field to using online emailed reports from residents to send a mailed notice of violation to an alleged scofflaw.

Separate from, a group of 3rd district residents [whom we've never met] approached Councilwoman Suzie Price and volunteered to form a "Residents Fireworks Committee" to examine ways to deal with the situation. Councilwoman Price encouraged them to do so.



June 19, 2018: LBPD/LBFD presented a pre-July 4th report that didn't mention using administrative citations. However Councilwoman Price separately agendized a Council item inviting the volunteer "Third District Residents' Fireworks Committee" to present the results of its independent nearly-year-long research. The volunteer committee's multiple recommended actions included administrative enforcement. Councilwoman Price thanked the volunteer Committee for its work and said: "The administrative citation option is something that my staff is researching now to bring back as a potential agenda item in the future."

July 4, 2018: Residents reported another year of "warzone" contraband fireworks.



July 24, 2018: Councilwoman Price, joined by Councilmembers Jeannine Pearce, Daryl Supernaw and Al Austin agendized a request (passed 8-0 [Mungo absent on vote]) for a city staff report on the "feasibility of implementing expanded fireworks enforcement/administrative remedies."

March 15, 2019: Management sent a non-agendized "To-From-For" memo to the Mayor and City Council at this link not agendized for public discussion, recommending against use of administrative enforcement in Long Beach.

Management's memo stated in part:

The graphic below is visible (as of June 16 and for some days preceding) on the City of LB's website front page (and we've seen some similar graphics elsewhere.):

Any Councilmember(s) could have agendized management's position on the issue for public input, Council discussion and possible Council action that took a different policy stance. None did.

[UPDATE] On May 23, 2019, city management sent the City Council a follow-up memo (to its March 15 memo) describing its "Fireworks Communications Campaign." It can be viewed in full at this link. It stated in pertinent part:

This is the first year the City is using a branded fireworks education message and campaign across departments. A branded campaign will immediately enhance communications efforts, as the cohesive design and messaging across departments creates recall with our residents. The campaign uses multiple strategic methods:

Digital Communications

  • Social media: Social media posts that include branded images and animation will be disseminated from the City's main social pages on Twitter, Facebook, and lnstagram, as well as departmental pages. In the week leading up to Independence Day, City departments will coordinate their profile cover images to reflect the Celebrate Safely message. The OPAC will also develop and share an lnstagram Story.

  • Web: A new fireworks webpage,, has been developed. The page provides information on ways to Celebrate Safely and information on the law. The page can be accessed directly from the URL, which will appear on campaign materials, via the Fire Department's homepage, and via campaign web graphics on the City's main homepage.

  • GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format): GIFs are animated images that are popular on social media. GIFs have been developed for this campaign with messages regarding ways to Celebrate Safely, information on the law, how to take care of pets, and thoughts on how to be mindful and respectful of neighbors, especially veterans. GIFs are being created in English, Spanish, Khmer, and Tagalog and provided to communities to help spread the word.

  • Newsletter: Multiple messages will be disseminated to residents who are signed up to the City's bi-weekly #GolongBeach Newsletter.

  • Crowdsourcing: The OPAC will crowdsource on social media to engage the community, allowing them to actively participate in the campaign.

  • Print Communications

  • Fliers: The OPAC has developed two fliers. One flier has a general Celebrate Safely message. The other flier provides information on various options to Celebrate Safely. Departments have the option to use the fliers as-is or modify to more closely align with their department. Fliers will be created in English, Spanish, Khmer, and Tagalog.

  • Coloring Sheets: Kids Celebrate Safely coloring sheets have been created and serve two purposes: engage kids directly with messages about celebrating safely during Independence Day, and engage parents, as often these coloring sheets end up posted in the home on the refrigerator or a board. Coloring sheets will be provided to Parks, Recreation and Marine camp programs, distributed at events and they will be available for download.

Outdoor Communications

  • Long Beach Transit Interior Bus Cards: Long Beach Transit is providing space in the interior of most of its buses to display Celebrate Safely messaging that will reach tens of thousands of their daily customers. Long Beach Transit buses cover the entire city and have routes in several adjacent cities. The bus cards will have messaging in English, Spanish, Khmer, and Tagalog.

  • Lawn Signs: Two different lawn signs will be available to residents: general Celebrate Safely messaging and messaging regarding respecting veterans. Signs will be provided to the Veterans Commission for distribution.

  • Messaging at Park Events: Parks, Recreation and Marine will post signage at Band in the Park and Movies in the Park events leading up to Independence Day, capturing the attention of participating families from many different areas of the community.

  • Digital Freeway Billboards: Celebrate Safely messaging will be displayed on freeway billboards, providing messages to not only Long Beach residents, but visitors as well.
  • Digital On-street Message Boards: Public Works will provide messaging on their portable digital on-street message boards.

    Lifeguard Tower Notices: Notices will be posted at lifeguard stations along the waterfront.

    Signage on City Vehicles: Some Fire Department vehicles will display a Fireworks message.

News Media Communications

  • Press Releases: A campaign kickoff press release introducing the new dedicated webpage and information about the campaign will be sent to the media no later than May 28, 2019. A post-Independence Day press release with operational and campaign data will be released on July 5, 2019.

In-Person Communications

  • Events: City staff will make campaign information available to the public at events they are conducting or participating in leading up to Independence Day.

  • Canvassing: City staff and volunteers will visit businesses and residents in some of the higher impact areas related to fireworks. Information regarding fireworks will be provided, including signage for businesses.


June 11, 2019: Councilwoman Price agendized an item to "receive and file presentation of a Public Safety Announcement video funded by the Third Council District on the dangers and impacts of illegal fireworks." Her agendizing memo noted that her residents' advisory group met with city staff and other cities and developed a series of recommendations on how Long Beach can better manage the issue of illegal fireworks" that led her the July 24, 2018 Council agenda item seeking a report on the feasibility of implementing expanded fireworks enforcement and administrative remedies. Her agendizing memo noted that "[t]he City Manager provided a detailed memo on March 15, 2019 as a response to the request for a feasibility report on the various recommendations made by the Fireworks Committee." In a footnote, it included a link to management's memo but didn't mention or comment one way or the other on management's recommendation not to pursue administrative enforcement. During Council discussion, no Councilmembers raised the issue of administrative enforcement. To view the Council's June 11, 2019 discussion and see the "Public Service Announcement" produced by a former CSULB film student, see the Council video at this link and scroll to 3:38:20 for start of item.

What's next

On June 18, 2019, Councilwoman Price agendized an item to "Receive and file presentation of Public Service Announcement video funded by the Third Council District on the dangers and impacts of illegal fireworks." In her agendizing memo, Councilwoman Price writes:

Throughout the weeks approaching the 4th of July it is important to highlight the harms. that come from fireworks. In 2017, the Third Council District office developed a residents advisory group to focus on addressing the issue of illegal fireworks in Long Beach. This group held numerous meetings with City staff, and other cities to develop a series of recommendations on how Long Beach can better manage the issue of illegal fireworks. This led to a presentation on June 19, 2018 from the Third District Fireworks Committee and our Fire Department, 1 and the submittal of a City Council agenda item on July 24, 2018 requesting the City manager to report back on the feasibility of implementing expanded fireworks enforcement and administrative remedies. [footnote to link to Council agenda item] The City Manager provided a detailed memo on March 15, 2019 as a response to the request for a feasibility report [footnote to link to management's memo] the various recommendations made by the Fireworks Committee.

Despite the significant work that has been done by this committee, they continue to meet and develop recommendations for further efforts to reduce illegal fireworks in Long Beach. Most recently they have worked with the California State University Long Beach Animation Department to develop an educational Public Service Announcement (PSA) on the dangers and impacts of illegal fireworks. As the Fourth of July approaches it is important to highlight and expand our effort to educate residents that fireworks are illegal in Long Beach and that there are significant community harms from their use.


No fiscal ,impact associated with this recommendation.

The June 18 agendized item doesn't allow Council discussion or Council action on city management's recommendation against using administrative enforcement that Councilmembers and the Mayor received three months earlier (on which it's now effectively too late to act for this year's July 4 period.) invites our readers to share with us what they experience during the upcoming July 4th period and to share our report above now on their Facebook pages and via other neighborhood social networks.

Developing. Further to follow.

Updated June 17, 2019 at 10:50 a.m. to include May 23, 2019 memo from city management re its "Fireworks Communications Campaign"
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