News

Unprecedented fireworks explosions frazzle residents

Spree rocks neighborhoods in noisy July 4 prelude

Boxes of used fireworks pile the corner of Bell Street and Lincoln Street in East Palo Alto on June 24. Photo by Sue Dremann.

Each year around July 4, the skies above East Palo Alto resident Maureen Larsson's neighborhood fill with the colorful bursts of large fireworks and the deafening booms of exploding mortars. The nightly sounds, which can go on for weeks before the national holiday, can be heard all over town.

"We've been here a long time and every year it's the same sadly destructive predictable thing: My husband and I are disrupted and stressed by months of explosions. We see at least one fire a year and hear about others caused by fireworks and know people whose property has been destroyed," Larsson said.

"This year the fireworks problem has worsened. It's still June and the social media posts about lost dogs and lost sleep are nonstop. Neighbors who're grappling with COVID, financial challenges and work demands are even more frazzled and there's no relief," she added. "People doing fireworks ... don't care how they impact their neighbors."

Menlo Park residents and Palo Altans who live near East Palo Alto say they are similarly frustrated.

Beth Guislin counted 120 explosions an hour on a recent night, her husband, John, said. It upsets her sleep and their dog is terrified.

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There are also three or four group homes for veterans near the Guislins.

"I can't imagine it's good for them. I feel we need to address it," he said.

The fireworks have already ignited fires, such as a 2-acre blaze in an East Palo Alto field on June 4 that threatened homes and apartments, according to Menlo Park firefighters.

Local police departments say they are responding in force. There are ongoing criminal investigations, East Palo Alto police Chief Albert Pardini said by email.

"The entire patrol division is working to locate and arrest individuals in possession of illegal fireworks in East Palo Alto. I have several investigations in progress, but I can't reveal the details as it would tip off the suspects," he said.

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"There seems to be a pattern of behavior that people walk out of their home, discharge a device and then go back into their home. A few minutes later, a different neighbor does the same thing, almost as if they are trying to have a competition to see who can make the loudest noise or launch the biggest airborne device," Pardini said, noting that the activity is occurring throughout the city.

"Our biggest help has been neighbors calling dispatch or using the tip line to give us a precise location so we can get to the site more quickly," he said.

It's not just the Midpeninsula that's being plagued with people setting off pyrotechnics — it's happening across the country.

New York has had a 426% increase in complaints about fireworks, he said, referencing news reports. The same problems are occurring in Los Angeles and other cities on the West Coast.

And why is it happening?

"It is believed that because of COVID-19: All firework shows are cancelled so people are making their own shows," he said.

Palo Alto police think there's a supply issue at play this year.

"One hypothesis that we've heard, which seems reasonable to us, is that due to cancellations of Fourth of July fireworks shows, there may be an overabundance of professional-grade fireworks available on illegal markets" Janine De la Vega, public affairs manager for the Palo Alto Police Department, stated in an email.

"Note this is purely speculative, but it could explain the significantly louder 'booms' that our residents are reporting now, compared to years past," she said.

Pardini said information suggests people are traveling to other states where it is legal to purchase fireworks. They are then illegally transporting the fireworks back.

Nevada law allows bottle rockets, sky rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, sparklers, missiles, aerial spinners, display shells and other aerial items, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

California prohibits these and other items: Only so-called "safe and sane" fireworks such as small items used on the ground — such as fountains, spinners and snap caps — are allowed in some counties. The "dangerous" fireworks, including bottle rockets and sparklers larger than 10 inches long or one-quarter inch in diameter, are banned.

'There may be an overabundance of professional-grade fireworks available on illegal markets.'

-Janine De la Vega, public affairs manager, Palo Alto Police Department

Under California fireworks laws the possession or transport of illegal explosive devices is a misdemeanor subject to up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of a large quantity of fireworks or explosive devices can result in up to three years in state prison and a fine up to $50,000.

Pardini said it's hard to catch violators because of the widespread activity.

"We attempt to track the discharges as they are occurring, but ... as my patrol officers hear or see the devices in the air, it is a challenge to determine which street they originated from," he said.

Palo Alto police haven't been able to verify any reports of fireworks or gunshots going off in Palo Alto.

"From ShotSpotter reports in East Palo Alto and from the observations of our own on-duty officers witnessing the fireworks occurring over East Palo Alto, we are confident that the source of the nightly issues is not in Palo Alto," De la Vega said. "We received one anonymous report over this past weekend that people were shooting fireworks off on the levees near our golf course. Our patrol division has been made aware of that tip and has stepped up patrols in that area as a result," she said.

FIreworks are also being set off in Menlo Park, and police there have seen an increase in complaints about them.

"The hotspots are in varied locations. While we have had a few calls west of El Camino, the bulk of the calls are throughout central Menlo Park and areas east of Middlefield Road and east of Highway 101," spokeswoman Nicole Acker said in an email.

Menlo Park police have not made any arrests nor fined the lawbreakers.

"Officers warn if they make contact with individuals," she said.

Police in all three cities have launched information campaigns. Pardini said East Palo Alto has placed banners at the University Avenue/Donohoe Street and University Avenue/Bay Road intersections to remind people that possession and discharge of fireworks are prohibited. The department has disseminated information in Pardini's weekly newsletter and distributed flyers in English and Spanish.

Palo Alto sent out a message to the community on June 16, which included information about how to report violators and city animal control officers' tips on how to help pets with anxiety.

The city also launched a fireworks education campaign in multiple city departments, providing information on safety and how to report fireworks or gunfire violations. It's best to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413 with an actual location, De la Vega said.

Acker said Menlo Park police have posted on social media and the city's blog, sent notifications and put up electronic sign boards regarding the city's no fireworks laws.

Menlo Park has not specifically coordinated any enforcement efforts with neighboring cities, Acker said. But Pardini said he has been communicating with other police chiefs and the San Mateo County sheriff.

'Considering our officers have to be in the right place at exactly the right time to witness a (fireworks) violation themselves, enforcement is difficult.'

-Albert Pardini, police chief, East Palo Alto

Palo Alto officers have stepped up neighborhood patrols and in some open space areas during evenings as a deterrent, De la Vega said.

So far, the three cities' police chiefs have not pushed for new ordinances to address the illegal fireworks, however.

"A decision about stronger ordinances would be a decision of the council, but the current law makes it very clear it is illegal so it would be up to the council to evaluate whether the section needs to be changed," Pardini said.

Added De la Vega: "As we have had no verified reports of fireworks or gunshots being shot off in Palo Alto, stronger ordinances and fines in our city would have no impact on those in other jurisdictions.

"There are also a number of challenges to enforcement of fireworks laws. In order to make an arrest or to issue a citation, an officer needs to be able to witness the violation or otherwise catch those responsible in possession of fireworks, or alternately, have a witness who can identify the suspect who is willing to sign a private person's arrest.

"When we have very few witnesses overnight (other than aural 'witnesses'), and considering our officers have to be in the right place at exactly the right time to witness a violation themselves, enforcement is difficult."

Larsson said there are no easy answers.

"It's a very difficult problem to solve, preferably requiring a culture shift that doesn't include further gentrification," she said. "We'd like to see an annual meeting with city leaders, first responders, Community Emergency Response Team members, big landlords, neighborhood representatives and other stakeholders to ultimately reduce the usage of fireworks."

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Unprecedented fireworks explosions frazzle residents

Spree rocks neighborhoods in noisy July 4 prelude

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jun 26, 2020, 6:55 am

Each year around July 4, the skies above East Palo Alto resident Maureen Larsson's neighborhood fill with the colorful bursts of large fireworks and the deafening booms of exploding mortars. The nightly sounds, which can go on for weeks before the national holiday, can be heard all over town.

"We've been here a long time and every year it's the same sadly destructive predictable thing: My husband and I are disrupted and stressed by months of explosions. We see at least one fire a year and hear about others caused by fireworks and know people whose property has been destroyed," Larsson said.

"This year the fireworks problem has worsened. It's still June and the social media posts about lost dogs and lost sleep are nonstop. Neighbors who're grappling with COVID, financial challenges and work demands are even more frazzled and there's no relief," she added. "People doing fireworks ... don't care how they impact their neighbors."

Menlo Park residents and Palo Altans who live near East Palo Alto say they are similarly frustrated.

Beth Guislin counted 120 explosions an hour on a recent night, her husband, John, said. It upsets her sleep and their dog is terrified.

There are also three or four group homes for veterans near the Guislins.

"I can't imagine it's good for them. I feel we need to address it," he said.

The fireworks have already ignited fires, such as a 2-acre blaze in an East Palo Alto field on June 4 that threatened homes and apartments, according to Menlo Park firefighters.

Local police departments say they are responding in force. There are ongoing criminal investigations, East Palo Alto police Chief Albert Pardini said by email.

"The entire patrol division is working to locate and arrest individuals in possession of illegal fireworks in East Palo Alto. I have several investigations in progress, but I can't reveal the details as it would tip off the suspects," he said.

"There seems to be a pattern of behavior that people walk out of their home, discharge a device and then go back into their home. A few minutes later, a different neighbor does the same thing, almost as if they are trying to have a competition to see who can make the loudest noise or launch the biggest airborne device," Pardini said, noting that the activity is occurring throughout the city.

"Our biggest help has been neighbors calling dispatch or using the tip line to give us a precise location so we can get to the site more quickly," he said.

It's not just the Midpeninsula that's being plagued with people setting off pyrotechnics — it's happening across the country.

New York has had a 426% increase in complaints about fireworks, he said, referencing news reports. The same problems are occurring in Los Angeles and other cities on the West Coast.

And why is it happening?

"It is believed that because of COVID-19: All firework shows are cancelled so people are making their own shows," he said.

Palo Alto police think there's a supply issue at play this year.

"One hypothesis that we've heard, which seems reasonable to us, is that due to cancellations of Fourth of July fireworks shows, there may be an overabundance of professional-grade fireworks available on illegal markets" Janine De la Vega, public affairs manager for the Palo Alto Police Department, stated in an email.

"Note this is purely speculative, but it could explain the significantly louder 'booms' that our residents are reporting now, compared to years past," she said.

Pardini said information suggests people are traveling to other states where it is legal to purchase fireworks. They are then illegally transporting the fireworks back.

Nevada law allows bottle rockets, sky rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, sparklers, missiles, aerial spinners, display shells and other aerial items, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

California prohibits these and other items: Only so-called "safe and sane" fireworks such as small items used on the ground — such as fountains, spinners and snap caps — are allowed in some counties. The "dangerous" fireworks, including bottle rockets and sparklers larger than 10 inches long or one-quarter inch in diameter, are banned.

Under California fireworks laws the possession or transport of illegal explosive devices is a misdemeanor subject to up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of a large quantity of fireworks or explosive devices can result in up to three years in state prison and a fine up to $50,000.

Pardini said it's hard to catch violators because of the widespread activity.

"We attempt to track the discharges as they are occurring, but ... as my patrol officers hear or see the devices in the air, it is a challenge to determine which street they originated from," he said.

Palo Alto police haven't been able to verify any reports of fireworks or gunshots going off in Palo Alto.

"From ShotSpotter reports in East Palo Alto and from the observations of our own on-duty officers witnessing the fireworks occurring over East Palo Alto, we are confident that the source of the nightly issues is not in Palo Alto," De la Vega said. "We received one anonymous report over this past weekend that people were shooting fireworks off on the levees near our golf course. Our patrol division has been made aware of that tip and has stepped up patrols in that area as a result," she said.

FIreworks are also being set off in Menlo Park, and police there have seen an increase in complaints about them.

"The hotspots are in varied locations. While we have had a few calls west of El Camino, the bulk of the calls are throughout central Menlo Park and areas east of Middlefield Road and east of Highway 101," spokeswoman Nicole Acker said in an email.

Menlo Park police have not made any arrests nor fined the lawbreakers.

"Officers warn if they make contact with individuals," she said.

Police in all three cities have launched information campaigns. Pardini said East Palo Alto has placed banners at the University Avenue/Donohoe Street and University Avenue/Bay Road intersections to remind people that possession and discharge of fireworks are prohibited. The department has disseminated information in Pardini's weekly newsletter and distributed flyers in English and Spanish.

Palo Alto sent out a message to the community on June 16, which included information about how to report violators and city animal control officers' tips on how to help pets with anxiety.

The city also launched a fireworks education campaign in multiple city departments, providing information on safety and how to report fireworks or gunfire violations. It's best to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413 with an actual location, De la Vega said.

Acker said Menlo Park police have posted on social media and the city's blog, sent notifications and put up electronic sign boards regarding the city's no fireworks laws.

Menlo Park has not specifically coordinated any enforcement efforts with neighboring cities, Acker said. But Pardini said he has been communicating with other police chiefs and the San Mateo County sheriff.

Palo Alto officers have stepped up neighborhood patrols and in some open space areas during evenings as a deterrent, De la Vega said.

So far, the three cities' police chiefs have not pushed for new ordinances to address the illegal fireworks, however.

"A decision about stronger ordinances would be a decision of the council, but the current law makes it very clear it is illegal so it would be up to the council to evaluate whether the section needs to be changed," Pardini said.

Added De la Vega: "As we have had no verified reports of fireworks or gunshots being shot off in Palo Alto, stronger ordinances and fines in our city would have no impact on those in other jurisdictions.

"There are also a number of challenges to enforcement of fireworks laws. In order to make an arrest or to issue a citation, an officer needs to be able to witness the violation or otherwise catch those responsible in possession of fireworks, or alternately, have a witness who can identify the suspect who is willing to sign a private person's arrest.

"When we have very few witnesses overnight (other than aural 'witnesses'), and considering our officers have to be in the right place at exactly the right time to witness a violation themselves, enforcement is difficult."

Larsson said there are no easy answers.

"It's a very difficult problem to solve, preferably requiring a culture shift that doesn't include further gentrification," she said. "We'd like to see an annual meeting with city leaders, first responders, Community Emergency Response Team members, big landlords, neighborhood representatives and other stakeholders to ultimately reduce the usage of fireworks."

Comments

resident
another community
on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:51 am
resident, another community
on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:51 am
18 people like this

How illegal can these fireworks be if they were legally purchased in San Mateo County? This is the San Bruno city website: Web Link

"On behalf of your Mayor, City Councilmembers, and City staff, we hope you enjoy a safe 4th of July Holiday! San Bruno is one of two cities in San Mateo County that allow the sale and use of Safe and Sane fireworks. The revenue from the sale of Safe and Sane fireworks helps many community organizations provide a variety of programs that benefit the community, including youth sports programs, booster clubs, and non-profit groups. All of these organizations contribute to enhance the quality of life in San Bruno."

If we really don't want fireworks anywhere in the Bay Area, we need to pressure these scofflaw cities into stopping their sales.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:09 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:09 am
3 people like this

I have seen here and on social media that there are rumors of sorts that the proliferation of these fireworks are a form of protest against the police.

I would like some research done to see if there is any truth to this. I think the fireworks around here have been going on since May and can't believe they are going to stop after 4th.

If this is a protest, what can be done about that to bring calm back to our peaceful neighborhoods in the evenings?


East Palo Alto Resident
East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:19 am
East Palo Alto Resident, East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:19 am
20 people like this

It is unbelievable how East Palo Alto Police lies when he says:
"There seems to be a pattern of behavior that people walk out of their home, discharge a device, and then go back into their home. A few minutes later, a different neighbor does the same thing, almost as if they are trying to have a competition to see who can make the loudest noise or launch the biggest airborne device," Pardini said, noting that the activity is occurring throughout the city.
Really?  Around five people or more gather around outside their home, not just one, ignite the fireworks and stay there to ignite some more, then neighbors from next door come out too with more fireworks.  We called the police ad give them the address where the fireworks are taking place, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, for them to come up while more fireworks go on, but the police never show up. Incidents like this have not happened once, but so many times we lost count.  Most of the neighbors in our block are tired of it, and we are coming to realize that fireworks are not a priority to the East Palo Alto Police Department. I wish Padroni will tell the truth and not lie to look good in front of people.  Both East Palo Alto Residents and Menlo Park have put a

hange.org/p/city-council-zero-tolerance-1000-fine-to-the-residents-of-east-palo-alto-who-set-of-fireworks?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_22820261_en-US%3Av7&recruiter=1116884647&recruited_by_id=06099c10-aeb8-11ea-8b9d-add04f2e51dd&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi&utm_term=psf_combo_share_abi
More than 960 people have signed the East Palo Alto petition, but nothing has been done.  Furthermore, Chief Padroni adds:
"Our biggest help has been neighbors calling dispatch or using the tip line to give us a precise location so we can get to the site more quickly," he said.
Yeah Right?  You ignored the calls and did not even come to see what is going on. The offenders do not suffer any consequences, which is the real reason why they continue to do it because there are no consequences.

A couple of years ago, there a fireworks show (kind of like a war zone) in an East Palo Alto Neighborhood. Neighbors called the police many times, but they never came, after a while, the fireman arrived, but to the neighbors' disappointment, it was only to sit down and watch the show, and then they left cheering and honking as a way to say they love the show. There was a video going around this ugly seen. I am wondering if it still exists.

I am sorry to say that at this point our police department is not doing their job to protect the residents of East Palo Alto, I am wondering if they too love the fireworks as the fireman did a couple of years ago. Someone needs to be held accountable.  




Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:32 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:32 am
5 people like this

Posted by resident, a resident of another community

>> How illegal can these fireworks be if they were legally purchased in San Mateo County? This is the San Bruno city website: Web Link

Although legal only in San Bruno and Pacifica, the "Safe and Sane" fireworks are not, according to the website, the kind that explode loudly. Thus, not the ones that are making loud bangs heard a half mile away. Also, even in San Bruno, use is restricted to "12:00 Noon until 9:00 p.m. beginning Wednesday, June 28 through Monday, July 3, and from 12:00 Noon until 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4." So, firecrackers etc. are illegal, fireworks illegal in EPA, illegal in San Bruno except in very restricted hours. That's how illegal. The fireworks you are hearing are illegal three times over.


musical
Palo Verde
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:53 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Jun 26, 2020 at 9:53 am
13 people like this

As illegal as gasoline leaf blowers in our neighborhood.


neighbor
Mountain View
on Jun 26, 2020 at 10:17 am
neighbor, Mountain View
on Jun 26, 2020 at 10:17 am
5 people like this

People in Los Altos and Mountain View are hearing the fireworks as well.


East Palo Alto Resident
East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2020 at 11:00 am
East Palo Alto Resident, East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2020 at 11:00 am
14 people like this

Think about the number of fireworks these people have stored in their houses to have enough to fire many of them every night. It is a significant hazard for the people who l Iive close to their homes. They could explode any minute as it has happened in Mexico (where they are legal, but they are still a hazard)
Web Link
Is Chief Padroni waiting for our neighborhood to get burned to take action?
Why don't they do something now, before it is too late?
Some people claim that it is also loud in Palo Alto; it is never the same. When my dogs and kids are scared, I just go to Palo Alto, which is not so far, and wait until 2:00 am, when they are still going on, but on as often. So no, residents of Palo Alto and Mt. View hear them, but they are not as loud, because they do not live in the same neighborhood. The gun At least the shots do not go as often as the fireworks do. I guess the bullets must be more expensive or harder to get because they do go almost every night but never in the same amount as the fireworks.
To Chief of Police:
Please do your job, protect us so we can not just sleep, but be safe and keep our children emotionally healthy. Imagined, our kids are sleeping, then the big booms happened, and the kids wake up crying and scared, asking their parents to stop the noises while their bodies are shaking with fear. It has been happening for almost three months now. It is not just one week before the 4th of July. Time to stop it.


Suspicious
Greenmeadow
on Jun 26, 2020 at 11:46 am
Suspicious, Greenmeadow
on Jun 26, 2020 at 11:46 am
1 person likes this

Across the country it is very suspicious that people have been able to get such high-grade fireworks... at least in NYC there’s a theory that the police are setting these things up as there are usually not fireworks so consistently at the same time and they’re more intense fireworks than most normal residents are able to get easily. Plus it’s still over a week until the 4th. I would recommend that everyone looks into the theory that the police are setting this up to deprive protestors and other residents of sleep.


jlanders
Barron Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 12:16 pm
jlanders, Barron Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 12:16 pm
11 people like this

We heard that PAPD discovered at least three cases where ShotSpotter verified gunfire originating in East Palo Alto landed in Palo Alto. EPAPD must have their hands full covering the worst cases before they can get to the many reports they're receiving nightly.

Also, I want to publicly thank Janine De la Vega, public affairs manager at the Palo Alto Police Department, for her service. De la Vega did a number of public facing jobs for the PAPD including running both the basic and advanced citizen's police academies. A lot of folks were able to interact on a positive level with the PAPD and learn a lot about the operations of the department. Unfortunately, her job will be eliminated with the citiy's current public safety budget cuts effective July 1. We'll miss you and thanks again!


TakeADeepBreath
South of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2020 at 12:19 pm
TakeADeepBreath, South of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2020 at 12:19 pm
9 people like this

Chill Out!
It has been 100 days of being cooped up with little outlet for all that is and has been occurring - things to anger, things to sadden, things to worry, things to frustrate, and very few things to encourage or provide happiness. Fireworks may not be the safest thing to play with, but it is an outlet that we can tolerate in these times. It will all subside by mid-July (likely by the 5th).


East Palo Alto Resident
East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2020 at 12:34 pm
East Palo Alto Resident , East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2020 at 12:34 pm
16 people like this

To Take a Deep Breath:
Easy for you to say. You live in Palo Alto, exactly the place I go to avoid the loud booms because over there they do not sound so loud. If you were living next to the house where the fireworks go on, you would not be saying that, specially if you have young kids who wake up crying in the middle of the night at the sound of the explosions.


Duveneck neighbor
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2020 at 1:10 pm
Duveneck neighbor, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2020 at 1:10 pm
22 people like this

During the day, we experience near-endless noise from illegally-loud leaf blowers, from tree trimmers and their chippers, and lately from jackhammers. There's a tremendous amount of local construction, plus the usual people who have hired outside workers to perform yard maintenance. The noise feels deafening at times.

Drivers have returned in force, and as usual drive well above the posted limit of 25 mph. Every manhole cover they hit, creates excess noise (in addition to the dangers imparted by their speed).

Then, around dusk until 11pm or even later, we have the fireworks. (These feel like, 'no justice, no peace' activities this year: they are louder and longer and more frequent than in years past. Some have speculated outside forces, agents provocateur, are pushing the fireworks into urban areas, to add to the chaos, anxiety, and paranoia which has already been growing since March with Covid, and since prior due to our political malaise, and since May due to the explosions over the George Floyd murder.)

Finally, we have the return of late-night jets, making sharp and noisy pivots overhead, well after midnight. Plus, occasional private jets coming into Moffatt Field, and late-night helicopters doing training at Palo Alto Municipal Airport.

The noise environment here is bad. There's no other way to parse it. But, it's not just the fireworks.


ItsTheCops
Fairmeadow
on Jun 26, 2020 at 1:34 pm
ItsTheCops, Fairmeadow
on Jun 26, 2020 at 1:34 pm
1 person likes this

[Post removed.]


Reality Check
Midtown
on Jun 26, 2020 at 1:48 pm
Reality Check, Midtown
on Jun 26, 2020 at 1:48 pm
35 people like this

Can anyone blame the police for not enforcing the law, at this point? If they did, they'd be called racists, ordered to take sensitivity training, and the MSM would probably dox individual officers.

Safest thing is to stay inside their stations and just collect statistics from 911 calls on the skyrocketing crime, until they can all find better jobs in sane, normal midwestern towns.


Green Gables
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2020 at 3:05 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2020 at 3:05 pm
1 person likes this

I was delivering Meals on Wheels this morning in Menlo and East Menlo where I saw a couple of electric signs stating that fireworks are illegal in San Mateo County and in Menlo Park.


Unacceptable
Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 5:19 pm
Unacceptable , Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 5:19 pm
6 people like this

Thanks for the East Palo Alto petition, I just signed it

this is the link again
change.org/p/city-council-zero-tolerance-1000-fine-to-the-residents-of-east-palo-alto-who-set-of-fireworks?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_22820261_en-US%3Av7&recruiter=1116884647&recruited_by_id=06099c10-aeb8-11ea-8b9d-add04f2e51dd&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi&utm_term=psf_combo_share_abi

Beware of officials "talking" to make this better. Get resources on it - noise monitors and Annual Noise Reports at the suggested annual meetings. I'm an activist on aviation noise and I see noise policies around the world - for some reason noise harm is culturally ridiculed in the US and officials here help conceal impacts.

On Nextdoor there are some who discourage complaining because this is a “tradition” (which is how this article begins), 4th of July and that there's nothing you can do about it. That there are bigger problems out there...Not when the dosage of noise is too much, and going on for too long. If we can't care about infants, elderly and people battling illness, that is a bigger problem.

Nowhere in the world is noise so blatantly considered a cost of living/with an Extra Charge on underserved communities. BTW - booms and vibrations are noise that go through walls and bones. Insulation does not help.

The police are not noise experts, firemen sitting to watch the show is nuts. They need to be educated first.
Cities need to measure noise and especially those booms and vibrations which are a health cost. Health costs that people in responsibility need to be held accountable for reducing.


PinkDolphin
Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:47 pm
PinkDolphin, Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:47 pm
2 people like this

City councils from Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto will discuss the fireworks issues at a joint meeting on Monday, June 29, 7:30PM. Details are here Web Link for those who want to attend the teleconference.


selfishness-strikes-again
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2020 at 10:21 pm
selfishness-strikes-again, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2020 at 10:21 pm
8 people like this

I find all the complaining about the fireworks by Palo Alto folk repulsive. Yes, the fireworks are annoying. Yes they're disruptive to my peaceful enjoyment of my tree-lined street. But the amount of energy that has been put forth by all [portion removed] shows how self-centered this community can really be. The people lighting the fireworks are facing a triple whammy: many are frontline workers in the face of a pandemic. They don't enjoy the luxury of many Palo Altans to just "stay home." Many live in smaller spaces than those homes at Newell and Edgewood, and being in quarantine for 3 months just isn't the same on the other side of the contentious Newell Bridge as it is on this side. To top it all off, high profile police shootings are occurring which strike of nerve for many in East Palo Alto who are people of color. So, our EPA neighbors choose to set off fireworks to decompress.

These mildly-annoying fireworks won't cause property damage in Palo Alto, but the minimal disruption that they create is obviously enough [portion removed] to convene a joint PA/MP City council meeting after gathering 1000 signatures in opposition to the fireworks. Instead of coming together for meaningful efforts such as saving the homes of Hotel President residents, our neighbors have chosen to expend effort on a project that serves only their immediate inconvenience.

Italian physicians at the beginning of the pandemic warned that Americans would be too individualistic and self-serving to fight the pandemic as a community. That these 1000 Palo Altans can only see a problem as it pertains to themself is a sad affirmation of this.


Betty Wanibuchi
Barron Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 10:54 pm
Betty Wanibuchi, Barron Park
on Jun 26, 2020 at 10:54 pm
6 people like this

It would be a real tragedy if a fire broke out in East Palo Alto due to all these fireworks. The whole PAFD team would have to suit up, roll out, and stand right at the border of Palo Alto and EPA to just watch, doing nothing. Let's all hope it doesn't come to that.

Stay safe everyone. Masks on.


Ben dover
East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 12:21 am
Ben dover, East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 12:21 am
8 people like this

I LOVE THE FIREWORKS KEEP THEM GOING. LET US HAVE SOME FUN WE BEEN TRAPPED IN OUR HOUSE FOR TO LONG.


Sam
College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2020 at 7:48 am
Sam, College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2020 at 7:48 am
9 people like this

RE: "the theory that the police are setting this up to deprive protestors and other residents of sleep."
Are you serious? The protesters I know (and as a parent of 20-something year-old kids myself), stay up most of the night these days and sleep during the day. Setting off fireworks at night is not being done to "tire them out." Of course, though, everything is the fault of the police these days.


unacceptable noise
Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:39 am
unacceptable noise, Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:39 am
6 people like this

selfishness strikes again,

“Italian physicians at the beginning of the pandemic warned that Americans would be too individualistic and self-serving to fight the pandemic as a community.”

Italians would never tolerate fireworks to go on for weeks all night as a tradition of individualistic fun at the expense of their children and grandmothers. And they would do better to find better outlets for their youth.

It is selfish to not do better by the youth in underserved communities and to leave them to think that illegal rockets and booms is a nice tradition they somehow earned or deserve to enjoy themselves. How condescending- you don’t even bother to see that the petition is from East Palo Alto residents and there’s another one from Menlo Park.

Are you surprised that they care about their quality of life? That they care about their health? And that they care enough about their community to speak up?

Instead of focusing on your personal obsessions try looking at this from the point of view of the people who are affected and hey yes that includes Palo Alto. Try caring about all your neighbors who are very affected by noise and sleep disturbance and may as well add a few million more around the country too which Italy is right to fear that American’s health is ignored by individualistic behaviors.

Good news - enough people care about each other and now the test is if our cities and people who have the job to care can help.


Selfishness-strikes-again
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:47 am
Selfishness-strikes-again , Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:47 am
2 people like this

Dear Unacceptable Noise,
How kind of you to care about the youth of EPA. What a coincidence that you’re worried about their well-being at a time when your own is adversely affected. No doubt you’ve been consistently engaged in other avenues of improving their well-being through community outreach and support?

And you’ve no doubt tried to engage the EPA City Council to join the meeting of the minds of MP/PA councils? How big brotherly of MP/PA to provide “oversight” to EPA. The exclusion of EPA leadership alone reeks of elitism....


unacceptable noise
Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 11:55 am
unacceptable noise, Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 11:55 am
5 people like this


Selfishess strikes again, Duveneck/St Francis (a Palo Alto neighborhood)

“The exclusion of EPA leadership alone reeks of elitism”

If you read the meeting notice, its 3 cities and EPA is not “excluded.”

You should attend the meeting before getting so upset about it.


Huh?
Menlo Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 12:52 pm
Huh?, Menlo Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 12:52 pm
4 people like this

How ironic to use Italy's critisisms as an opportunity to lecture and guilt people protesting the use of illegal fire works.

(A country where protests and shutdowns are as predictable and frequent as the rising and setting of the sun.)

Perhaps you'll rethink after someone is hurt or there's a major fire?




Hmmm
East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 1:07 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 1:07 pm
7 people like this

Unacceptable - thank you for what you’ve said about some East Palo Alto residents, who’re angry and tired of the fireworks. Thank you also for pointing out our city council is participating in the upcoming meeting.

Thanks to Sue Dremann for her thoroughness in writing this article, covering reactions in the three cities and not making Palo Alto and Menlo Park more important than East Palo Alto, which often happens in news stories.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 27, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 27, 2020 at 2:31 pm
5 people like this

Article in the paper about all of the explosions in the bay area. As it gets hotter and the plants dry out we are looking at major fire issues. If for no other reason the police should be tracking this activity and locating where it is occurring on a regular basis and put some patrol cars out there. The hillsides on both sides of the bay are dry so all residents should be helping the police here. No one here can afford to have a fire in their neighborhood. I have been tempted to jump in my car and go snoop around to see where this is happening. But not sure what type of people I would run into.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 27, 2020 at 3:43 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 27, 2020 at 3:43 pm
3 people like this

Follow-up story - East Bay = a young man was setting off fire works and one rolled under his car. His car was leaking fluids which ignited and set his car on fire. This was in a residential area with houses on both sides of the street.

Suggestion - our fire department likes to "tour". Maybe they should go out on a tour to where the noise is and make an appearance. Our bay section is dry and would appreciate a tour to see the sites.


Unacceptable noise
Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 4:58 pm
Unacceptable noise, Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2020 at 4:58 pm
1 person likes this

If and when fire departments do rounds, they should let people know that dosage of noise matters too. The decibels from launching fireworks can cause permanent hearing loss which some of the kids may appreciate knowing. Don’t do this every day. And they should also know that houses do not protect people from the booms or vibrations that propagate.

Dosage matters, one day ok, occasional holiday but weeks every night not good for anyone.

Maybe the cities can offer a fireworks buyback program too, no questions asked.


Umm
East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 5:27 pm
Umm, East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 5:27 pm
1 person likes this

MAKE THE SAFE AND SANE FIREWORKS LEGAL BUT ONLY CERTAIN DAYS AND TIMES AND IF PEOPLE DONT LISTEN FINE THEM HEAVILY. MAYBE THAT CAN HELP OUT BECAUSE THOSE ARE NOT AS DANGEROUS AS THE BIG ONES


Hmmm
East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:39 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:39 pm
2 people like this

Wondering if tonight’s bombs will result in some injuries.


Sir Topham Hatt
Menlo Park
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:18 am
Sir Topham Hatt , Menlo Park
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:18 am
8 people like this

If you protest fireworks you are a racist.


Enforcement Laughable
Midtown
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:36 am
Enforcement Laughable , Midtown
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:36 am
10 people like this

With all the issues and crime California policing is currently facing....do you really expect them to enforce trivial quality of life issues (dog leashes, fireworks, early construction, leaf blowers...etc)

Police are being reduced to report takers for fear of losing their jobs, being sued, facing jail time...wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t show up after the fact and it’s back to Wild West where we police ourselves and each other.


Skeptical
Charleston Meadows
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:52 am
Skeptical, Charleston Meadows
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:52 am
9 people like this

All that rocket makes me less and less sympathetic to ""the cause" :-/


One love !
East Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 1:35 am
One love ! , East Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 1:35 am
5 people like this

We have to nip this problem at the Root! Illegal fireworks are not growing on trees, theyre arriving here some kind of way. We need better protection at our points of entry such as airports, ports. Etc. We need to provide some type of incentives, such as rewards, to seek out the illegal fireworks dealers. It's is when we attack the root we can address the problem. Calling the police on the youngsters for Igniting illegal fireworks is not going to solve the problem. Think about what adverse affect. To those of you who are new to East Palo Alto and rallying behind people to call the police, isn't going to help build community.


Unacceptable noise
Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2020 at 8:09 am
Unacceptable noise, Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2020 at 8:09 am
3 people like this

One love,

“We have to nip this problem at the Root! Illegal fireworks are not growing on trees, theyre arriving here some kind of way. We need better protection at our points of entry such as airports, ports. Etc. We need to provide some type of incentives, such as rewards, to seek out the illegal fireworks dealers. It's is when we attack the root we can address the problem. Calling the police on the youngsters for Igniting illegal fireworks is not going to solve the problem. Think about what adverse affect.”

I agree 100% but don’t just trust that local officials say they are going to do anything to cut supply of the illegal ones.

Keep the cities accountable by not letting them just talk and brainstorm their way out, then put the item on a future agenda or create a task force to keep talking. I call that management by agendas which can keep this issue going for years and the problem goes unsolved for years because all they do is talk.

To nip the supply at the bud you’ll need pressure to get other agencies, customs or intra-state initiatives. To keep them motivated they need to be educated that noise is a health hazard and local officials (who come and go) need to be reminded with something more than people’s suffering or this will stay as “it’s impossible to catch”- not true, there’s plenty of technology to catch where they are being launched from. Cities can invest it it.

I’m also not in favor of anything except education for teens. So if the locations are identified, use that to educate, go to that block, ask neighbors to keep an eye out for each other to reduce fireworks. Even better, pay some kids themselves to do outreach and education.

Sellers and anyone profiting should get fined.


TimR
Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2020 at 10:05 am
TimR, Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2020 at 10:05 am
13 people like this

Hard to believe in this era of stricter gun laws and a desire to reduce the use of guns--especially in CA--people are allowed to fire their guns into the air with abandon. Unlike fireworks, that's not legal anywhere, and if this is a portent of things to come with a reduction in policing, the future looks a little bleak. And like others have mentioned, it sure makes my sympathy for EPA wane every time I hear a loud explosion startles me out of my sleep. It really is like living in a third world country (at least the one's I've visited).


Hmmm
East Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 1:14 pm
1 person likes this

TimR the article is about fireworks not gunshots, so what are you talking about? EPA doesn’t need your sympathy just like you won’t care that my respect for folks like you in Shallow Alto drops every time I read silly comments like yours.


Unacceptable noise
Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Unacceptable noise, Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2020 at 12:18 pm
11 people like this


The Washington Post ran an in depth story about the supply of fireworks in 2018, so most of the background must be same

Web Link

From the lengthy read, fireworks has some parallels with aviation - highly controlled and regulated and political, with the people who are eventually harmed with zero protections.

Leaving people to fend for themselves is easy to do with noise and other quality of life issues like neighborhood safety. The powers that be count on helpless local governments who always have bigger fish to fry.

The fireworks supply dump that happened after professional shows were canceled is probably an even shadier story. Flouting all laws and relying on zero enforcement. The Nextgen of fireworks.

Since the shipments arrive in California, there’s probably something to be done at a state level to address supply and for these products to be turned into highly controlled materials.

Ok for highly regulated professional shows, July 4th but none of this nightly business. This week there are fires in Oakland and around the country- all fireworks related.

Fires, and the very real health harm from unacceptable of noise that our own dogs and children are crying about. That is not “fun” at all.


desensitization
College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2020 at 2:12 pm
desensitization, College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2020 at 2:12 pm
4 people like this

OTOH my older dog, who has been terrified of fireworks his whole life, no longer seems to respond when she hears fireworks. I'm guessing that due to their frequency, he's now desensitized to the explosions.


Unacceptable noise
Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2020 at 4:10 pm
Unacceptable noise, Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2020 at 4:10 pm
6 people like this


desensitization,
“OTOH my older dog, who has been terrified of fireworks his whole life, no longer seems to respond when she hears fireworks. I'm guessing that due to their frequency, he's now desensitized to the explosions.“

Humans are affected by excessive noise in that they lose life years. Think sleep deprivation, blood pressure issues, asthma, workforce productivity, which are very different than just being "bothered." Frequent and continuous noise exposure has real costs.

QALY (quality-adjusted life years) is the most common term for measuring health. It measures both longevity and health-related quality of life at the same time and it can be compared across multiple situations. Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health compared the costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) associated with the usage of a flight path in NY, ”The Trade-Off between Optimizing Flight Patterns and Human Health: A Case Study of Aircraft Noise in Queens, NY, USA" Web Link. The higher usage has real impacts on health. Flight paths have noise and air pollution impacts and actually fireworks also cause air pollution.

At a policy level - do you desensitize or adopt best practices? With the pandemic people are trying to take personal and collective responsibility to protect communities and especially vulnerable populations.


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