Fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Mendenhall Valley on New Year's Eve. At Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting, City and Borough of Juneau Assembly members agreed to proceed with a proposed ordinance that governs the local use of fireworks. Members of the public may comment on the proposal at the May 24 City Assembly meeting. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Cue the fireworks: City talks proposed ordinance

Public comment on proposed fireworks ordinance set for May 24.

This article has been updated to reflect that the initially proposed ordinance was not a total ban. It would have banned sales and put strict limits on what could be used and when. The Juneau Empire regrets this error.

After months of discussion and with the clock ticking on the July 4 holiday, the City and Borough of Juneau moved a step closer to changing the city’s firework ordinance at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

On May 24, the City Assembly will hear public comments and vote on a proposed ordinance that bans loud, mortar-style fireworks in Juneau’s neighborhoods and imposes limits on the types, times and locations where residents can use fireworks.

The measure is more permissive than the ordinance that Assembly Member Michele Bonnet Hale initially proposed in February. It would have banned sales and put strict limits on what could be used and when.

CBJ considers new restrictions on fireworks

The current proposal is the result of months of negotiation and several amendments by committee members. If passed, the ordinance will go into effect 30-days after passage, in time for the revised rules to apply for America’s upcoming 245th birthday.

“People have complained about the mortars. By removing one type of firework, we satisfy 90% of complaints,” said Assembly member Wade Bryson.

Mayor Beth Weldon and Assembly member Loren Jones disagreed with Bryson’s perspective on the compromise, saying that the proposed rules are overcomplicated and difficult to enforce.

“The only thing that’s going to be enforceable is a complete ban,” Jones said. “This ordinance will complicate the lives of our police officers and citizens. You will not be rid of this ever.”

Jones predicted that efforts to communicate the nuances of the rules would not be effective.

“No one will pay attention to your flier. They will shoot off whatever they want and hope the cops are busy with other public safety issues. It’s going to boom off West Juneau and right into my bedroom. We’ve overcomplicated this. It should be a complete ban. That’s the only thing that is enforceable,” Jones said.

Before the committee voted to move the ordinance forward, Weldon proposed scrapping the current version in favor of making tweaks for this summer and sending the question back to the committee for additional work. However, her counter-proposal did not get traction.

Voicing the perspective of the committee’s majority, Hale said that she thought the current incarnation represented a good compromise position and could be communicated effectively to residents in advance of July 4.

City committee mulls fireworks limitations

The proposed changes do not affect permitted public displays or regulatory use for public safety or wildlife control.

Imposing sales tax

The CBJ Assembly also agreed to consider an additional ordinance to require that all sellers of fireworks collect sales taxes on all firework sales that take place in the city or borough.

If passed, this would affect sales by the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, an organization that is generally exempt from collecting sales tax. Last year, Tlingit and Haida sold fireworks for personal use ahead of the July 4 holiday.

The assembly will consider that question on a separate timeline.

“Whoever sells fireworks needs to collect taxes to provide for the public safety response they require,” Jones said as he introduced the proposal.

Summary of proposed regulations

The proposed ordinance and definition of each type of firework is available in the Assembly section of the city’s website at

According to the proposal, the use of fireworks is banned in the City and Borough of Juneau with the following exceptions:

Concussive fireworks, defined as a firework launched from a tube with an inside diameter larger than ¾ of an inch or has a mortar as a feature, may be used on private or public property with permission from the properties owner, outside the fire service area, and only during certain hours on New Year’s and July 3 and 4. This means that the loud, mortar-style fireworks are banned from Juneau’s neighborhoods.

Holiday fireworks may be used on private property with permission from the property owner inside the fire service area only on December 31 and January 1 and July 3 and 4, during certain hours. They may also be used outside the fire district area year-round between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. each day.

Allowable fireworks may be used on private property with the property owner’s permission or on designated public property on December 31 and January 1 and July 3 and 4 during certain hours and year-round from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Concussive, holiday and allowable fireworks may be used on private property outside the roaded service area year-round, with permission from the property owner.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at or 907-308-4891.

More in News

(Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Monday, Nov. 27, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Nov. 30, 2005. (Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Dec. 3

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Cheyenne Latu (left), a pharmacy technician at Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe, and business co-owner Gretchen Watts hang a poster at the front counter Thursday announcing the store’s closure after Dec. 6 as Jessica Kirtley, another pharmacy technician, works at the front register. The nearby Safeway supermarket has agreed to take the prescriptions of all customers as well as hire all of the independent pharmacy’s employees, according to the co-owners who are retiring. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe closing after nearly 50 years as co-owners retire; last day is Dec. 6

Safeway taking over all prescriptions and offering jobs to all employees, according to owners.

Attendees at the Friends of NRA — Juneau’s banquet in 2019 talk near auction tables at Centennial Hall. The fundraising event is resuming Saturday after a four-year COVID-19 disruption. (Photo courtesy of Friends of NRA — Juneau)
Friends of NRA — Juneau fundraising banquet returns Saturday after four-year pandemic absence

New Zealand hunting safari, signed Ted Nugent guitar among items being offered.

Wade Bryson, a Juneau Assembly member, explains why he favors giving local businesses a “sales tax holiday” for at least one day next year, targeting Feb. 29 as a suitable date, during the Assembly’s Finance Committee meeting Wednesday night. The committee voted to hold onto the proposal for further study rather than sending it to the full Assembly. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
A local sales tax holiday? Don’t pack your shopping bags yet

Proposal to waive taxes for a day or two each year isn’t a quick sale to most Assembly members

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Choir members rehearse Tuesday night for a Bach holiday concert at Ḵunéix̱ Hídi Northern Light United Church. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Quartet of Bach compositions joins lineup of local large-ensemble performances this season

Concerts this weekend part of resurging “wealth of riches” by choruses and orchestras, director says.

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry LeConte at the Auke Bay Terminal on Monday, March 5, 2018. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Petition seeks name change for LeConte state ferry

Petersburg man calling attention to what he calls Joseph LeConte’s racist history.

Most Read