Battle Ground will restrict the sale and discharge of fireworks starting in 2019.
City councilors on Monday night voted 4-3 in favor of limiting sales of fireworks to July 1 to 4 and the discharging of fireworks to July 3 and 4. At the same meeting, they also voted 4-3 in favor of giving the city’s fire marshal the authority to suspend or ban fireworks in extreme weather conditions when there is added danger to the public.
The city’s New Year’s fireworks regulations — when the city allows fireworks sales Dec. 27 through Dec. 31 and discharging from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. Jan. 1 — will remain the same.
Councilors Shane Bowman, Adrian Cortes, Cherish DesRochers and Mayor Mike Dalesandro voted in favor, while councilors Brian Munson, Steven Phelps and Philip Johnson voted against both ordinances.
Dalesandro said multiple factors led to city councilors discussing the fireworks issue — and ultimately voting to change city regulations.
“It was probably driven by the fact that other jurisdictions have done some things and are talking about it,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Clark County Council took initial action to revise how it regulates fireworks. It will consider a future ordinance to reduce the number of days fireworks can be sold in unincorporated Clark County to four days, with two days to set them off.
The city of Battle Ground currently allows the use of fireworks from June 28 through July 5, and from Dec. 27 through Dec. 31, in both cases the maximum days state law allows for the sale and discharge of fireworks. In unincorporated Clark County in areas north of Northeast 219th Street, fireworks can be used from June 28 to July 4.
Dalesandro said public feedback on fireworks usage, specifically from a survey sent out earlier this year, also led some city councilors to feel now was the right time to change fireworks regulations in Battle Ground. City officials went over results from that survey during a public hearing on fireworks at their May 7 meeting.
“Myself and a couple other council members who commented mentioned that the survey showed some good data that people wanted something to be done, whether it was a ban or a change,” Dalesandro said.
In the survey, the city received 578 responses from residents in Battle Ground, 37 percent of whom wanted a ban on fireworks. As for other options, 31 percent wanted the city to leave the regulations as is, 20 percent wanted to limit the discharge days, and limiting the types of fireworks permitted, mandatory cleanup of debris by users and “other regulations” all received less than 10 percent support each.
“The policies are a compromise,” Dalesandro said. “We’re not outright banning it. We’re allowing people to celebrate Fourth of July with fireworks.”
Johnson, who was mayor before Dalesandro, voted against both ordinances Monday night but said compromising is the best place for the councilors to be.
“We’re going to have people saying, ‘You just ruined my Fourth of July’ and others saying, ‘You just made my Fourth of July,’ ” Johnson said. “We’ll be in the middle, trying to figure it out.”
Johnson said he doesn’t have an issue with fireworks, which is why he voted against changing the sale and discharge days.
“I’m not one to really want to change traditions, but I understand that sometimes change comes and traditions change with it,” he said. “I’m a little disappointed what happened (Monday) night. In our business, you take your wins when you win, you take your losses when you lose.”
He voted against giving the fire marshal authority to outlaw fireworks during extreme weather conditions because the fire marshal isn’t an elected position.
“The people didn’t elect us to pass off decisions to unelected positions,” he said. “Who do they hold responsible? Unelected city people are not held responsible at the ballot box every four years.”