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Firework cleanup prompts discussion

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July 4 has come and gone and with it, debris of fireworks blown up and now swept up and disposed of. But the memory of the work and noise isn’t fading as quickly.
Citizens of University Place and people from outside the city often visit a private abandoned parking lot at 27th and Grandview for a yearly display of fireworks that leaves quite a mess the next day. On this July 5, citizens took to city council to ask for a ban on fireworks.
Under the current state law, even if the council did pass a ban it would not go into effect until July 2018. City Attorney Steve Victor noted that a potential ban would limit sales and make the act of lighting of fireworks easier to police, even on private property.
“When it comes to banning fireworks, it certainly stops sales and for private property, like the lot at 27th and Grandview, it makes those easier to police,” Victor said.
However, Victor also understands that a ban comes with issues and may not fix every problem. After all, fireworks are far from eliminated in Tacoma, which instituted a ban years ago.
“The concern I always have with a ban is that it doesn’t produce zero fireworks, so what happens is people that like fireworks and organizations that sell them get upset because they’re banned, and people that don’t like (fireworks) get upset because they’re not gone,” according to Victor. “The other thing is that a fireworks ban does not mean ‘no fireworks.’ I helped work out the Tacoma ban, and I live in Tacoma and every year I still hear them. It won’t stop 100 percent of fireworks destruction – that’s just not realistic.”

Pam Hubert, owner of Lefty’s Burger Shack located in the Grandview lot, is all too familiar with the problem. Two weeks after the Fourth of July, fireworks still litter Lefty’s dumpster.
“For years I’ve had to hire someone to clean it up and pay to dump it after the clean up. My dumpster is overflowing right now,” Hubert said
Though some citizens return the next morning to clean up their fireworks, the lot is so big that it can be a laborious project, and much of the debris ends up in Lefty’s dumpster. Hubert hopes that citizens will recognize the mess they are leaving and stop lighting off the fireworks on the private property
“I hope that they don’t come on to private property and let off their fireworks and leave their mess for someone else to clean it up. That’s my greatest hope,” Hubert said.
The current University Place firework laws allow the purchase of legal fireworks from noon on June 28, to 9 p.m. on July 4, and the discharge of these fireworks from 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4. Victor thinks the council could hold a study session this year on the banning of fireworks.

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