In what Mayor Paul A. Netzel described as a "very historic evening," the Culver City Council on Monday directed the city attorney to prepare a law banning so-called "safe and sane" fireworks less than a week after city voters defeated a measure to continue fireworks sales in the city.
The proposed law would ban the use, sale, manufacture and storage of fireworks in Culver City. It would, however, allow the city to store and use fireworks for its big annual display at Culver City High School and permit film or television companies to use them for special effects. It also permits the transport of fireworks through the city.
Under the law, the fireworks ban may be overturned only by a majority of city voters. However, a majority of council members could delete the popular-vote requirement from the law and return jurisdiction over fireworks to the council, City Atty. Joseph W. Pannone said.
The move followed the Nov. 4 defeat of Proposition K, a measure that sought to continue 50 years of fireworks sales in Culver City. The measure lost by a nearly 2-1 margin with a record 60% of city voters casting ballots. The city was the last jurisdiction on the Westside that allowed fireworks.
Councilmen Richard Brundo and Richard M. Alexander, who both campaigned in favor of fireworks, joined fireworks opponents Netzel, Councilman Paul A. Jacobs and Councilwoman Jozelle Smith to prepare the law.
The council directed Pannone to submit the law for first reading after Los Angeles County issues official election returns, which are expected Nov. 25, according to City Clerk Pauline C. Dolce.
Monday's meeting combined ceremony and humor. Brundo went on the record as co-sponsor of the law with Jacobs, while Alexander and Smith seconded the motion.
"I'll move with Councilman Jacobs right after I set off my box of safe and sane fireworks," Brundo joked.
Mayor Netzel, who led the council rapidly through agenda items leading up to the fireworks vote, turned the floor over to Jacobs, who has opposed fireworks longer than anyone on the council.
"I've waited long enough to make this motion," said Jacobs, who has served on the council since 1976.
Jacobs congratulated campaign supporters in the audience and Netzel praised both sides for their "diplomacy and restraint" during the campaign. Smith said she was "delighted the issue has been removed from the political arena."
An argument erupted, however, when Netzel suggested that corporate sponsors of the city's Western Hemisphere Marathon on Dec. 7 give the money earmarked to underwrite the race to the city, which could then turn it over to the veterans' and nonprofit groups that have benefited from fireworks sales. Netzel said the underwriting could amount to $20,000 to $25,000.
But Alexander said expenses would have to be deducted from the sponsors' funding. Brundo said he was not sure how the city could legally turn over city funds to the nonprofit groups. And Jacobs said he did not like the idea of diverting funds from a city event to private groups. Smith, however, said she favored the move.
Netzel asked Chief Administrative Officer Dale Jones to review the idea and report back.
In a separate action suggested by Jacobs, the council voted 5 to 0 to send a letter to the League of California Cities urging a statewide ban on fireworks. State law allows the cities to pass laws governing safe and sane fireworks.