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Illegal fireworks could soon make a bigger impact on Turlock wallets
Illegal fireworks
The Turlock City Council will consider increasing the penalty for using prohibited fireworks from $100 to $1,000 for a first violation. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Those who use illegal fireworks to celebrate the next Fourth of July holiday may be facing ten times the fine if caught in previous years. The Turlock City Council will consider at their next meeting on Tuesday increasing the penalty for using prohibited fireworks from $100 to $1,000 for a first violation.

A staff report prepared by Turlock Fire Marshal David Bickle states that “the number of dangerous fireworks used on and around July 4th has been overwhelming, especially with minimal staff.” Bickle argues that creating a higher fee will “provide a more persuasive tool for the enforcement officer” with the goal of those thinking about using illegal fireworks reconsider based on the possible financial impact.

The City of Turlock first instituted an illegal fireworks fine in 2018. Before then, if a police officer saw an illegal firework being used the officer could arrest the violator with a misdemeanor charge. The changes in the Municipal Code allow for firefighters, along with police officers, to address an incident of illegal or dangerous fireworks. Both fire and police personnel can give a fireworks code violator the administrative citation. The 2018 code also changed it so if a police officer hears a boom and finds smoke, burned grass and remnants of a dangerous firework, they can give a citation.

The proposed new Municipal Code would see each person who violates the illegal fireworks ban be subject to a $1,000 fee for a first violation, a $1,500 fee for a second violation and $2,000 fee for the third or subsequent violations.

It also states that every parent, guardian or other person, having the legal care, custody or control of any person under the age of 18 years would be issued a citation, in addition to any citation that may be issued to the offending minor.

The definition of dangerous and illegal fireworks is defined in the Health and Safety Code’s section 12505, and includes fireworks that contain arsenates, chlorates, magnesium; firecrackers, skyrockets, Roman candles; sparklers more than 10 inches in length or one-fourth of one inch in diameter; torpedoes; and make-your-own fireworks kits, among others.

All fireworks that have the Safe and Sane seal by the State Fire Marshal are legal to use in the City of Turlock.

On Tuesday, the City Council is also expected to:

·         Hold a special roads presentation workshop at 5 p.m. in the Yosemite Room at City Hall. During the workshop, the Council will review, discuss and provide comments to City staff regarding additional scenarios supplementary to the Preliminary Draft Pavement Management Program Report for the Roads Program;

·         Consider ordering the improvements and formation of the Fifth Street Community Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District and the Street Maintenance Benefit Assessment Area. This will be a new subdivision on 15.86 acres and include 178 single-family homes in a gated community;

·         Consider approving a pedicab ordinance that would allow pedicabs — three or four-wheeled bicycles used for transporting no more than 15 passengers for hire — to operate in Turlock and establish regulations for how they could operate and establish permitting and inspection requirements for the business and the pedicab;

·         Consider approving the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report for the Community Development Block Grant Program and HOME Investment Partnership Program for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development;

·         Consider approving the purchase of 40 Automated External Defibrillators to be assigned to the City Police and Public Works departments using $30,000 from Measure A funds;

·         Consider authorizing staff to proceed with a change to the scope of work on the Lander Avenue Rehabilitation project between D Street and Highway 99 to add an opening to the proposed concrete median on Lander Avenue to allow for a left hand turn from northbound Lander onto Montana Avenue;

·         Consider approving modifications to the job description, including job title change from Homeless Program Coordinator to Coordinator for Unsheltered/Homeless Programs and change the position from part-time to full-time.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room at Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway. Meetings are open the public. Meetings are also livestreamed to the Turlock City Council’s YouTube page.