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042319-guad-council

Guadalupe Police Chief Michael Cash address the City Council on the topic of fireworks during Tuesday's meeting.

Following residents' complaints about the noise and disruption caused by fireworks, the Guadalupe City Council moved Tuesday to adopt an ordinance restricting the use of fireworks only to specified hours on the Fourth of July.

The ordinance, which city officials hope will crack down on the use of illegal fireworks, was developed following two community meetings to solicit input from Guadalupe residents.

The ordinance would limit the use of so-called “safe and sane” fireworks — those that don't explode or fly into the air — to between 11 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. July 4. Sales of fireworks would be limited to June 28 to July 4. 

The ordinance allows permits the city to impose fines up to $1,000 on anyone caught firing blank cartridges or lighting illegal fireworks.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.

Guadalupe resident Jeannie Mello, who had previously raised the issue of fireworks during several City Council meetings, said she was pleased to see the city moving forward on the issue.

“Two years ago, I began this effort with my friend [former Guadalupe Mayor] Frances Romero,” she said. “Our goal was to put an end to illegal fireworks in this small city of ours. Up until recently, I felt like I was spitting into the wind and not being taken seriously.”

Romero encouraged the council to pass the ordinance so that residents could be educated about the new restrictions in time for the Fourth of July.

“We are coming up on July 4th again and many of us are scrambling, trying to figure out where we can stay for at least that night to lessen the stress on our animals,” she said. “I just hate hearing from my elderly neighbors that are just really scared on a holiday that’s really about independence. I don't think people that utilize illegal fireworks are really celebrating anything to do with our nation’s birth — they’re just being inconsiderate to everyone around them.”

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Around 30 people attended a workshop in Guadalupe Monday night to weigh in as the city aims to develop a plan that would make its downtown streets more walkable and bikeable and spur economic development in the area. Held at the American Legion Post 371, the meeting was preceded by a walk around Guadalupe with members of the consultant team hired to assist in the development of the plan.

A “party disturbance” provision in the bill allows Guadalupe Police to issue citations to anyone who repeatedly hosts a gathering that creates neighborhood disturbances after being warned.

Judith Gonzalez, of the nonprofit Little House by the Park, said she was opposed to the use of illegal fireworks but expressed concern that allowing fireworks to be used on only one day would impact the amount of money the nonprofit raises during its biggest fundraiser.

“There’s about $15,000 we raise every year and that’s given back to the community for all the kids, along with educational classes for the community,” she said.

In other business, interim City Administrator Robert Perrault gave a presentation about the city’s financial status.

Perrault said the city had made progress toward reducing expenses and raising revenues but a deficit still remained.

“There was very progressive movement towards the elimination of the deficit [in the general fund],” he said. “We’re not there yet. That deficit was significant at the beginning of [fiscal year] 2017-18 — it was well over $600,000 dollars. As of June 30, 2018, it stood at $167,872.

“Part of the difficulty is you’ve still got a deficit and that’s going to need to continue to be worked on,” he said.

Perrault said the completion of the 2017-18 audit was delayed but gave an overview of what was found in the preliminary draft. The completed audit is expected to be available for council review in May, he said.

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed

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City Government

Razi Syed covers city government for the Santa Maria Times. He is a graduate of Fresno State University and New York University.