Sunday, May 01, 2011

Righeimer's Fireworks Scheme

Disclaimer: Let's be clear right off the bat - I'm not a fan of neighborhood fireworks celebrations. I understand that the sales of fireworks fully fund some youth sports programs, but the use - and misuse - of so-called "safe and sane" fireworks constitutes a real safety hazard to the children of our city. Even columnist Steve Smith, nanny to us all, almost burned down his house a few years ago when he mishandled fireworks debris.

At their next re
gularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 the Costa Mesa City Council will consider, among other things, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's scheme to change the municipal ordinance regarding the sale and discharge of fireworks to expand the practice this year because the holiday occurs on Monday, July 4th. You can read the staff report and ordinance language HERE.

Righeimer explained at an earlier council meeting that he felt
it was appropriate since the Monday holiday might put a crimp in neighborhood parties. In fact, during the meeting at which he proposed this scheme he actually said people want to have their parties on Friday! So, his plan is to have fireworks sold beginning Thursday, June 30th and end on the 4th. However, he also wants the ordinance changed to permit the discharge of fireworks every night from the 1st through the 4th.

There are many reasons this is a bad idea, not the least of which is that in normal years - with one evening's fireworks permitted - our police and fire staff is stretched thin. This year, with reduced staffing in both organizations, stretching the fireworks discharging for 4 nights, not one, will make it extremely difficult, and MUCH MORE COSTLY, for our public safety folks to do the job we expect of them.


ional days of discharging fireworks throughout the city also means a MUCH greater effort by our Public Services organization to clean up after the celebrations. And, it will cost more money, too.

Add to that the
complication of no longer having the ABLE helicopter available to provide an "eye in the sky" to help surface-based patrols respond to emergencies more quickly and we have a recipe for disaster. In a short-sighted budget cutting measure, ABLE is supposed to be mothballed as of the beginning of the new fiscal year - July 1. Unless that deep-pocketed resident that was mentioned recently as a possible savior of the ABLE program has stepped up, the squadron of ABLE helicopters will be in an induced coma in the hanger at John Wayne Airport, waiting to be sold for parts, scrap or to a third-world drug lord to patrol his marijuana farms or some other similar ignominious fate.

With four days and nights on which to discharge the fireworks pa
rents will quite naturally be more lax in their supervision of children, which is further complicated by Righeimer's request to reinstate "spinner type" fireworks, currently banned in our city. They were banned specifically because of the potential for danger to small children.

Those of us with pets will have a particularly tough time of it if fireworks are permitted to be discharged legally for the best part of a week. In years past it was possible to sedate and secure pets in a room with music blaring to protect them from the noise. Even that, however, was not completely successful and stray frightened dogs and cats were found throughout the city for weeks after the holiday. What will this 5-day war zone do to the pets?


A cynical person might suspect that the real motivation behind Righeimer's scheme is pure cash. Yep, he and his pal, Steve Mensinger, are huge youth s
ports boosters. In years past many of the booster organizations that benefited from the fireworks sales were able to fund their entire programs for a year on the proceeds. This year, with 5 additional days of sales and 4 additional nights of discharging the fireworks, this will very likely be a windfall for those groups. It's easy to assume the groups selling fireworks this year will see profits exceeding 400% of previous year's efforts.

I realize I may be the lone voice against this plan - nothing new about that. However, that doesn't change the facts. More fireworks mean greater potential for damage to life, limb and property. It also means a much more costly experience for the city at a time when our elected leaders are screaming poverty and planning layoffs of huge segments of the staff, including public safety personnel. If this scheme is passed it should be done ONLY if it includes a charge to those profiting from the sales to help defray the city's increased costs for public safety and clean up. I suggest a fee of 10% of gross sales for the 5 days, to be remitted no later than the close of business the Friday following the holiday. An alternative would be to simply charge a flat permit fee - say $2,000.00 per vendor - payable at the time the sales permit is issued. That would generate around $60,000 in additional revenue to the city to help defray the costs for this event. More would be better.


Regardless what happens, I hope all Costa Mesa residents and the friends
they invite to their neighborhoods for Independence Day celebrations will, unlike the bonehead at the top of this page, exercise good judgment when using fireworks. A child scarred for life because of irresponsible behavior with fireworks is too great a price to pay.

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Anonymous keep da peace said...

Oh, boo hook for you, your kids and your pets. Enough of this nanny state government that seeks to replace parental common sense with government regulation. Now, I would be all for this except it figures in to Righeimer and Monahan's greater diabolical scheme to outsource services. The next step is to create a special fireworks private police force that will be headed up by his Monahan's secret force of mmercenary elves.

5/01/2011 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Firework Conflict of Interest said...

This is the list compiled last year June 2010- Lets make sure the City Council does not have any CONFLICTS OF INTEREST if so they can't vote on the Fireworks measure. SOMEONE FROM THE PRESS DO YOUR HOMEWORK PLEASE. Note: Costa Mesa Pop Warner and E. High School Football Booster Clubs Here’s a list Costa Mesa organizations that are selling fireworks and the locations of their firework stands:

Costa Mesa High School Aquatics/Boys & Girls Waterpolo (Thanks to Debbie Grubert-Serrano!)

Harbor & Adams in Blockbuster/Coco’s parking lot

Costa Mesa High School Band Color Guard #2

Harbor Baker Center at 3011-3023 Harbor

Costa Mesa High School Baseball Boosters

7-11 at 1097 Baker

Costa Mesa High School Boys Basketball

Harbor Christian at 740 Wilson

Costa Mesa High School Football Boosters #3

Albertsons at 610 W. 18th St.

Costa Mesa High School Girls Basketball

Alta Dena Dairy at 1085 Baker

Costa Mesa High School Girls Soccer

K-Mart at 2200 Harbor

Costa Mesa High School Softball & Cheer (Thanks to Kori Kutch Johnson for this one!)

Staples/Surfside at 233 E. 17th St.

California School Educational Foundation

Hitchcrafters at 2252 Fairview

Costa Mesa American Little League (Mark Ingram throws his support here!)

Super Antojitos at 2949 Fairview

Costa Mesa National Little League (Keith FitzGerald and Roger Turk are big supporters!)

Van’s Liquor at 145 E. 19th

Costa Mesa Pop Warner (Thanks to Steve Mensinger for this one!)

Strip Mall at 296 E. 17th St. (Mi Casa Center next to Starbucks)

Estancia Aquatics

Victoria & Placentia

Estancia Baseball (Thanks to Judy Helm and Cheryl Steinke DeFrenza for this one!)

Albertsons at 2300 Harbor

Estancia Cheer Booster Club

Del Taco at 1720 Superior

Estancia High School Basketball Boosters

Vons at 185 E. 17th

Estancia High School Boys Soccer

Pep Boys at 1946 S. Bristol

Estancia High School Football Boosters (Thanks to Steve Mensinger for this one!)

Stater Bros at 1175 Baker

Estancia High School Girls Soccer

1700 Adams

Estancia High School Golf Boosters

1525 Mesa Verde Dr. East

Kiwanis Club of Costa Mesa

1154-1178 Sunflower

Mika CDC

The Crossing Church at 2115 Newport

Vanguard University

Vanguard University at 55 Fair

Youth Services of Orange County

Stater Bros at 2180 Newport


T-Mobile at 289 E. 17th St.

A.Y.S.O. #II Costa Mesa

Bristol Village at 280 Bristol

A.Y.S.O. Boys 4 Hawaii

Auto Shop at 2145 Placentia

A.Y.S.O. Girls 4 Hawaii

Great American Lunch Box at 2620 Newport

A.Y.S.O. Region 120, Booth #5

Home Depot/Albertsons at 2300 Harbor

The sale of fireworks in the City of Costa Mesa raises about $500,000 annually for Costa Mesa groups. Hopefully that number will be even higher due to the changes made this year.

*Remember, be safe, don’t drive drunk, and have a Happy 4th of July!

5/01/2011 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Geoff, I fully agree with you on this. I know Riggy is suggesting this because Mensinger is heavily linked to the youth sports. If they want more money have a damn bake sale. There are so many other ways to earn funds. For a bunch of dopes who cry they want to protect and create a safe environment for their kids they are going in the bass-ackwards direction on this. There will be bad consequences to this and when people right fully blame the council those boys will do nothing but try and blame someone else. Common sense in not their strong suit.

5/01/2011 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Yes, here is how this plays out...
Righeimer brings up the issue at a study session or council meeting, several residents voice their complaints and concerns, the police and fire departments state the hazards and Wendy Leece voices her concerns. The motion gets a second from our brick victim mayor and the vote passes 4-1 or if Menstinker excludes himself due to the obvious conflict of interest a vote of 3-1 and that's IF Bever decides to show up and actually earn his pay. In the end this will be a very noisy holiday weekend, the understaffed Police will have a backlog of calls they never even get to and Estancia sports teams get new uniforms. Did I miss anything ?

5/01/2011 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Fire Marshall Bill said...

I completely agree w/ both CMFD, CMPD, Geoff, & ConcernedforCM. The only safe fireworks are professional firework shows. There's plenty of local CM firework celebrations such as the annual Fairview Hospital firework display which happens every July 2nd, the spectacular "4th of July" extravaganza at the Mesa Verde CC & the OCC Le Bard Stadium shows too. So when you think about it, we're really quite spoiled compared to our neighboring cities which typically offer only one show.

And remember, safe & sane fireworks are not always satisfying to some people. So unfortunately there are many illegal fireworks set off in our city that the busy CMFD attempts to confiscate as well. Really, just how much bottle-rocket & M-80 damage & injuries need to unnecessarily occur with reckless revelers?

BTW, there are plenty of "safe & sane" ways to raise the much needed funds. For example, The Costa Mesa Community Run recently raised a significant amount of funds. Why not hold that event twice a year? And CM United's Golf tourney raised a lot of money too. Just simply hold them bi-annually. Or better yet, Boosters can write & secure educational & athletic grants through NMUSD & OCDE to sponsor some of these programs. Also, don't forget that the Barrett Jackson Car Auction is coming to town in June. Maybe Boosters can auction off a classic car, or hold a car rally in conjunction with a car wash?

5/01/2011 08:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob from Costa Mesa said...

There is a reason that very few cities in Orange County allow fireworks to be sold. This is the one day I have always hated living in Costa Mesa -- it will be 4 days...great...

5/02/2011 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Let's do the math. If sales are what Conflict says, $500K last year, and that amount was made within the 2 days allowed; each year that amount is fairly consistent each year (allowing for inflation); there are only X amount of people making purchases each year; adding 2 or more days doesn't mean more sales, just gives those who purchase more time to buy.

If this passes, I will be surprised if you see any increase in boxes (items) sold. You will however, see an increase in unsafe use.

Conflict: You didn't list Newport-Harbor High. They sold in Costa Mesa Last year, Mesiahinger told me last year that since they were part of our School District they should be able to profit a bit to help their sports teams. NOTE, CM ordnance specifically states, "Only Costa Mesa Groups" are allowed to sell fireworks for fundraising... he sees this a bending the rules for a good cause.

5/02/2011 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Here's how I see it... the difference is that, if this proposal passes, residents and interlopers from outside the city who can't fire off fireworks at their homes will be able to shoot them off Friday, Saturday, Sunday AND Monday. That means they'll probably want to re-load their stash at least once or twice over the weekend so they can annoy the rest of us continuously.

Groups from Harbor High SHOULD be entitled to sell the fireworks since fully half - if not more - of the students there are from Costa Mesa.

5/02/2011 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Isnt this a federal holiday? Isnt it a celebration of the Freedom our country gained? Many people complain that the christmas stuff is so commercial that christmas loses its joy.
By allowing people to burn firworks for more than the federal govt proclimation is irritating. Are these guys above the feds? Do other cities do this?

Secondly, the thinning police corp will be over taxed. Will the phab 4 pay for the medical leave that a lot of the officers left behind will consume?

Not looking forward to 4 days of trying to control my english mastiff.
Geoff, this gives your neighbor Theriot a chance to blow up your neighborhood.
other than all this complaining, sounds kinda fun

5/02/2011 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rich, actually THE-RIOT has departed the scene. He sold his house and moved to Encino to be closer to his UCLA kids. Even with four days and nights of explosions it will probably be quieter here with him gone... :-)

5/02/2011 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

A fireworks show just for Costa Mesa at the fairgrounds with a symphony and patriotic band would be a million times better than any of the safe and sane fireworks from those stands.

There is a reason why fireworks are banned in so many cities. They are dangerous! Especially if there is a Santa Ana wind.

5/02/2011 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

I plan on spending tons of cash on fireworks and celebrating every night....right in front of Mensingers house, anybody want to join me ?

5/03/2011 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Femme persistant said...

I enjoy one night of the fireworks. We have a little party every year, and sometimes the entire block is out there shooting them off. Everybody cleans up, and we've never had any major issues, but...One night only PLEASE. It's too much noise, too much risk, too much everything. Clearly we have the most greedy, stupid, self serving city council in the state. And such disregard for the feedback from the citizens of our city! The majority speaking against extending the permits at the last city council meeting were overwhelming. I wish I could afford to get out of town for the weekend. But then who would be home to make sure my house doesn't burn down? Think of the hell we're in for next year when the 4 stooges have canned the fire department!

5/04/2011 09:28:00 PM  

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