July 4: Fireworks ban again hotly debated in Pacifica over holiday weekend

PACIFICA, Calif. (KGO) – Fireworks, the quintessential symbol of the 4th of July, are once again causing an explosive debate in the city of Pacifica.

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In November, local voters will decide whether the city should continue to allow fireworks sales in their community or ban them altogether.

This is a question that has divided the city for years.

Opponents pointing to the environmental damage they can cause, and supporters saying local nonprofits that sell them at kiosks around town rely on them for revenue.

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“It would be detrimental. We would lose, that’s about half of our budget. At least half of our income,” said fireworks salesman Grant Palmer.

All booths combined will bring between $180,000 and $200,000 over the holiday weekend.

Money that is then pumped back into the community in many ways.

“And, also, the fireworks tax pays overtime for our law enforcement,” Pacifica Mayor Mary Bier said.

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Client Shannon Sims says she sees both sides of the argument.

She wants local nonprofits to get their money, but also worries about the increased risk of wildfires.

“It’s tough, actually. Because I know it’s a great fundraiser for our community, but with wildfires being what they’ve been, especially over the last few years,” said Sims.

But some fireworks supporters say they think wildfire fears are overblown in a city like Pacifica.

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“These are safe and healthy fireworks. It’s not the fireworks you buy illegally that go up in the air. These, you know, are barely over six feet,” Palmer said.

This isn’t the first time the fireworks issue has been on the ballot. Pacifica voters also decided on the same issue in 1983 and 1996.

At the time, voters approved fireworks sales with margins of 24% and 40% respectively

A trend Palmer says he’s confident will continue this fall.

“That’s why we don’t really have a back-up plan at this point because we don’t think it’s going to pass. We think the fireworks are here to stay,” he said.

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Jessica C. Bell