gilroy city hall rosanna street
Gilroy City Hall. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

A change in the city’s fireworks ordinance helped uphold more citations in 2022, but many were still dismissed due to the narrow language of the law.

The Gilroy City Council heard a report on illegal fireworks on Feb. 27, and agreed to bring back a proposal that further strengthens the ordinance.

In April 2022, the council agreed to update the ordinance to make property owners liable for the illegal use of fireworks.

The first violation results in a $1,000 fine, with a $2,000 fine for every violation thereafter, according to the ordinance.

A host who is not present and is unaware of fireworks being set off on their property can make their case that they were not involved during an appeal hearing process.

In 2020, 78 citations were issued during the Fourth of July period, according to Community Development Director Sharon Goei. Of the 29 appeals, only three citations were upheld.

None were issued in 2021, as the city’s hearing officer considered the current ordinance to be ineffective in enforcement, Goei said.

In 2022, the first year under the updated ordinance, 61 citations were issued. Of the 27 appeals, 11 of the citations were upheld.

While the new ordinance did have an effect in upholding more of the citations, it still made it difficult to enforce the law when illegal fireworks were ignited on a public street and not on a private property, according to the hearing officer’s feedback that was presented to the council.

Goei said that, in many cases, when fireworks were ignited on a public street, there wasn’t enough evidence to cite a person based just on their ownership of the adjacent private property.

The hearing officer suggested the ordinance should clarify that the suspect could be cited for possession of illegal fireworks regardless of whether they were on public or private property.

The council agreed to bring back an updated ordinance at a future meeting.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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