Fireworks Exemption Smacks of Hypocrisy


(A version of this letter was also sent to the city council members and assistant city manager.)


Our Council hypocritically voted unanimously at its Nov. 16 meeting to seek an exemption from the proposed prohibition of fireworks displays in Heisler Park by Cal/EPA. Heisler carries State Marine Reserve (SMR) protection status, as well as being designated an “Area of Special Biological Significance” (ASBS).

This is a textbook example of Clean Water Now!’s frustration with the Council’s schizophrenic, haphazard policies and practices regarding improved water quality. This City can’t have it both ways by cherry-picking.

Environmental compliance is not a Chinese menu where governmental agencies can pick and choose what they will or will not do. Either we are “on the ecological sanctuary bus” or off of it.

The Council’s 4-1 majority vote (Boyd in opposition) in support of an expanded, “End-to-End” Marine Reserve designation demands preferential treatment. Myopically, they never considered the broader, long-term regulatory implications of this most strident marine habitat designation.

Is this city honestly committed to improved water quality, reversing the decades of adverse impacts, or just paying lip service regarding its worldly PC image? How is this accomplished by seeking such a fireworks waiver? Isn’t this typical of a “Do as I say, not as I do” pretzel logic?  Moreover, the nuanced ramifications of Marine Reserve protection parameters seem to have eluded both staff and Council. Water quality impairments are an integral element of Marine Reserve requisites and enforcement.

In issues like the stormwater pollution prevention permits (NPDES), we habitually take inland communities (chronic violators) to the woodshed for not doing their fair share regarding chronic urban runoff impairments. These dischargers perennially dump their contaminants, which discharge at Main Beach and the ultimate nightmare, Aliso Creek mouth.

Then too, I can’t help but wonder why all of the self-described strident local eco-protectionists are silent about fireworks over our precious, pristine tide pools when they’ve been so vociferous about the MLPA designations? They, like the Council, ignorantly fail to see the potential consequences of this advocacy.

Ironically a few years ago CWN! challenged the legality of dumping highly contaminated, dredged sediment from Dana Point Harbor, Upper Newport Bay and Huntington Harbor. We felt that depositing this waste at the designated State/Federal waters border right off Emerald Bay in north Laguna (three miles out) constituted a threat to Laguna’s marine eco-systems and would eventually conflict with the proposed End-to-End construct.

CWN! pointed out that the possible Marine Reserve status should create greater water quality protection under the MLPA regulations. Our concerns were dismissed as without merit in council chambers. Well, that chicken is apparently coming home to roost, isn’t it?

If the Laguna coastline becomes a Marine Reserve, in contradiction this sediment will continue to be dumped in that interface zone. And there is a real possibility that fireworks will be banned along Laguna’s entire coastline to boot. All self-inflicted and confusion avoidable, so at least now we know that the road to hell is truly paved with good intentions.

Roger Von Butow

Founder and director, Clean Water Now! Coalition

Laguna Beach

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