Petaluma City Council members have approved one more day of fireworks sales next year, but critics of personal pyrotechnics say the controversial issue wasn't properly publicized before the vote.
Petaluma resident Sheri Cardo, who has urged the council in the past to ban fireworks sales and use in the city, complained that the fireworks ordinance was buried within a dry, 48-page agenda item on adopting a new fire code.
“This has been a very controversial issue in Petaluma for many years, and yet, it seems to have been hidden in a fire code agenda item, with no way for the public to ascertain that the revised code contained a change to the number of days of sale,” she said.
She said the agenda released early last week lacked supporting documents that “would have informed the public of the scope of this item.” A later agenda with a full staff report available online did reference changes in city ordinances governing fireworks sales and use.
Even supporters of an extra day of fireworks sales didn't realize the issue was to be discussed Monday night.
But Dick Sharke, who operates a booth to raise funds for the North McDowell Drug Task Force and has advocated for a fifth sales day, was pleased with the result.
“No, I didn't see anything about it (on the agenda),” he said. “But we got the fifth day? That's a blessing.”
The item passed 4-2, with Mayor David Glass and Councilwoman Teresa Barrett opposed and Councilwoman Kathy Miller recusing herself because she is active in one of the nonprofit vendors.
Nonprofit organizations operate booths in Petaluma and elsewhere as fundraisers, often their only or primary fund-raising of the year.
The fifth day of sales matches other jurisdictions' rules, which Petaluma booth operators said they needed to stay competitive. It is only legal to use the fireworks on one day, July 4, in Petaluma.
City Manager John Brown acknowledged the agenda item was not highlighted as an amendment to the fireworks regulations, but said the city had discussed several times that changes to those codes should be done within the overall fire code rewrite.