Mayor Sanders says July 4 fireworks are in doubt - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mayor Sanders says July 4 fireworks are in doubt

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - Mayor Jerry Sanders said Tuesday that the city's Fourth of July fireworks are in doubt after a judge ordered rigorous environmental reviews.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn's ruling came in a lawsuit over a fireworks show in San Diego's La Jolla Cove, but Sanders said it applies to the roughly 20,000 park permits the city issues each year, including birthday parties for 75 people.

Under Friday's ruling, thousands of events would be subject to an expensive, time-consuming review under the California Environmental Quality Act, Sanders told The Associated Press.

"It's ludicrous," Sanders said. "It takes forever, it costs a lot of money, and nobody would do it."

The judge scheduled a hearing Thursday on a request by the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation, organizers of the La Jolla show, to put the ruling on hold for 90 days. Both the city and the show's organizers plan to ask California's 4th District Court of Appeal to overturn the judge's decision.

Marco Gonzalez, an attorney who filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of Encinitas-based Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, said he is only concerned for now with the La Jolla Cove show because fireworks are shot off over a sensitive marine sanctuary, scaring the sea life with the noise and debris.

"I'm not even allowed to paddle my surf board over there. I'm not allowed to boogie board there, I'm only allowed to swim over this area, but yet the city believes it's OK to turn a blind eye to the tons of chemicals that are shot off over these waters," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, who has been fighting firework shows in sensitive areas for more than a decade, said city officials are trying to scare people to build public pressure against his efforts.

"It's not about patriotism. It's not about who loves the country more. It's about our environmental laws and the potential impacts to our waterways and our species from these shows in certain locations," he said.

Sanders said the ruling affects every event requiring a park permit, which include cultural festivals and small parties. If upheld, he said the ruling may affect other cities in California.

"This is just what people hate about government, when you have excess regulation," he said. "It's crazy."

Robert Howard, an attorney for the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation, said the ruling was extreme.

"People who are running weddings aren't trained in environmental law," he said. "It's going to be chaotic in the short term" unless the ruling is put on hold.


Associated Press Writer Julie Watson contributed to this report.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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