The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Fireworks ban on ballot sparks debate

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    Besides recalls, there is one other item that rounds out the Rohnert Park September 14 ballot: Measure D. Voting yes on Measure D enacts Ordinance 954, which prohibits the sale of “safe and sane” fireworks. 

    Ordinance 854 was passed by the city’s council in April, but was suspended after a referendum petition was submitted. 

    “Safe and sane” fireworks are any fireworks that do not fly into the air. They are also known as ground, or non-aerial, fireworks. 

    The main argument in favor of Measure D are simple. “Fireworks, especially in a fire prone wildland-urban interface community like Rohnert Park experiencing tinder dry conditions during an extreme drought, are anything but safe and sane” proclaims the “in favor” section on the ballot. 

    So if this measure is about fire safety, then why are those on the ballot against it coaches, volunteers, and pastors? 

    Many of Rohnert Park’s non-profit organizations fundraise by selling safe and sane fireworks. Those arguing against Measure D on the ballot place the possible loss of money from these fundraisers at $324,000. 

    Impacted organizations include youth sports, Cotati-Rohnert Park Project Grad, and Cavalry Life Church, according to the petition. 

    The city has a plan in place to help these non-profits for at least the next year by establishing a Replacement Funding Program. The money for this program comes from donations from Graton Rancheria Casino. 

    The No on Measure D organization is backed by American Promotional Events Inc, also known as TNT Fireworks. They have contributed $100,000 dollars this year to the campaign,  according to the campaign statement filings submitted on Sept. 1. 

    While the official Facebook group for No on Measure D has only 153 followers, the Save Rohnert Park Fireworks public Facebook group has over 800 members. So while the group may have corporate backing, it also has real public concern. 

    The No on Measure D spent $10,000 advertising on Facebook. 

    The fight over Rohnert Park fireworks has been linked to a fire in a garbage can involving planted fireworks at Council Member Willy Linares home in July. 

    The rebuttal against Measure D, on the ballot, mostly consists of arguments that banning legal fireworks would actually increase the number of illegal fireworks. “Illegal fireworks are already illegal! Measure D simply makes Rohnert Park less safe! Other communities have tried and it backfired,” reads the ballot. 

    Other arguments made for Measure D include that fireworks can be triggers for those who may have PTSD involving explosions or fire, and that fireworks can terrify pets. 

    Those supporting the prohibition of fireworks include former mayor Gina Belforte and Cal State Firefighter Association Legislation Chair Matt Epstein. 

    Rohnert Park is one of only two remaining cities in Sonoma County that allow the use of such fireworks, the other being Cloverdale. Sebastopol was the latest city in Sonoma County to prohibit all fireworks. They had similar concerns about wildfires. 

    Whether you consider safe and sane fireworks to be the best way to fundraise or environmental hazards, it is clear that they are a hot button issue in Rohnert Park.

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