By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Nonprofit agencies asked the city to allow a fifth day of fireworks sales leading up to July Fourth, saying they are at a competitive disadvantage because Rohnert Park allows one more day of sales.
Richard Sharke of the nonprofit McDowell Drug Task Force said his group makes $36,000 annually with a fireworks booth, less than it would with another day.
But Petaluman Sheri Cardo urged the council to pay attention to the danger demonstrated by Monday’s fire that edged precipitously close to several homes and pastures northwest of city limits.
“This region is bone dry right now — bone dry,” she said.
Around 3:30 p.m., fire blackened about 19 acres along Thompson Lane between Skillman Lane and Magnolia Avenue. Several ranch buildings were destroyed, and nervous residents packed up their vehicles with pets and treasured possessions to evacuate.
In 2009, in response to fire officials’ concerns, the city reduced the number of days state-mandated “safe and sane” fireworks could be sold, from 6½ to 4. The city also reduced the number of days they can be used to one day, only on the holiday.
Nonprofit agencies in Petaluma and other cities operate fireworks booths to raise money, often as the main fundraiser.
If the council wanted to allow an extra day for this year’s sales, it would have had to pass an emergency ordinance, which would have required a special meeting next week, and a unanimous vote that the move was necessary to preserve the “public peace, health or safety.”
Mayor David Glass said he wouldn’t support an additional day of sales, which nixed any need for a formal vote.
Other council members said they would support allowing another day of sales, done in conjunction with other changes to city ordinances governing their sales. Those issues are expected to return in time for next year’s holiday.
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org