In violation of our fireworks ordinance (Serial No. 2021-03), loud mortars were set off for hours near homes during July 3 and 4. JPD’s standardized response was that officers were too busy to respond and that fireworks were allowed. Yes, fireworks are allowed, but mortars are illegal to use within city limits.
So, now we know that the firework user group isn’t going to follow the rules. And JPD will not respond to calls, basically enabling a reckless and dangerous firework culture in Juneau – to grow. And if the Assembly ignores the unruly use of fireworks near our homes, they are enablers, too.
These loud fireworks make it unsafe for our families to use their private property during the holidays. And per our zoning laws (CBJ code: 49.25.210), disruptive and harmful activities are not allowed in residential zones, and per our land-use regulations, explosives are not allowed either.
The loud explosions cause long-term health issues for people and pets. And during the hot summer, as people keep their windows closed to keep the loud explosions out, temperatures in homes skyrocket, putting our most vulnerable residents’ lives at risk due to the heat. See July 1, 2022 article at KTOO: When the temperature hits 70, Alaskans feel the heat — and start suffering health ills.
The fireworks ordinance erodes our fundamental rights to be safe in our neighborhoods, properties, and homes. It erodes our rights because the ordinance runs roughshod over existing laws (zoning, land use and noise ordinance) that are in place to protect our properties and families.
At the very minimum, the Assembly must take swift action and prohibit firework sales. Prohibiting firework sales is a proven method used in other communities to mitigate the harm caused by fireworks. And without adequate police response and a user group that blatantly won’t follow the rules, it is now up to the Assembly to intervene and protect our families and pets from these explosives.
The CBJ and Assembly should take action now so that Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has a fair warning that to protect the public, the CBJ is moving to prohibit firework sales in Juneau.
• Lorraine Murray resides in Juneau.