(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Local fireworks ordinance makes too many exceptions

I applaud (adopting the ordinance) but am of the opinion that it does not go far enough.

By Don Koch

I was pleased to see that the City and Borough of Juneau adopted a revised ordinance relating to fireworks at its meeting on May 24. I applaud that move but am of the opinion that it does not go far enough. I have lived in Juneau for the past 53 years and enjoy the relatively peaceful environment in which we have chosen to live.

My particular pet peeve is the use of concussive fireworks. The revised ordinance still allows some use of concussive fireworks, and frankly the exceptions to the ban on this class of fireworks make no sense to me. They can be used on New Year’s and the Fourth of July provided the user has the permission of the property owner or is on designated public property and is outside the fire service area. In my view, they should be banned throughout the entire borough. This kind of fireworks has no redeeming value. They disturb the relatively peaceful environment in which we have chosen to live. They are hurtful to our wildlife and pets whose hearing range exceeds that of humans. They certainly do not help our veterans suffering from PTSD. It is not clear to me why an exception to the ban is made for areas where the potential fire hazard is greater due to the lack of fire coverage and the ability to fight such a fire is difficult because it can’t readily be reached. It makes no sense.

I currently reside in the Mendenhaven subdivision and there are some thoughtless individuals nearby who set these things off whenever the spirit moves them, and that is not confined to holidays. It is also usually around midnight so sleep is disturbed and pets are spooked. They are not concerned with the fact they are disturbing the peace and causing trauma to pets of others. They don’t really care. Some of the posts I have seen online suggest that it is the users constitutional right to engage in such activity, not caring how it may affect others. Consideration for others goes out the window.

If people want to see fireworks, and there are some that are beautiful to see, what is wrong with supporting and contributing to a public display consistent with a specific permit issued by the City and Borough of Juneau or the state of Alaska. These of necessity would be governed by safety measures that an individual cannot hope to match and an opportunity to prepare for the effects of any noise resulting from the display.

I really do not believe that the new limitations are going to have any real impact on those individuals who do not feel that such an ordinance can or should be applied to them. Part of the problem there, is that the fines levied for violations are inadequate. They should be at least doubled or even tripled. It would be even better is a large portion of those fines would be applied directly to the enforcement issue. Our police are already overworked and this ban does pose enforcement issues for them.

• Don Koch has lived in Juneau for over 50 years. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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