EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council wants to know what voters think about a fireworks ban.
Proposition 1, which will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot, asks whether voters would support a ban on setting off fireworks in the unincorporated urban growth areas surrounding many of the county’s cities.
The nonbinding advisory vote wouldn’t be enacted into law, but would inform the council’s ongoing discussion on banning fireworks in some south county areas.
The council tabled its discussion on the petition until after November’s advisory vote.
“Rather than council taking action on that specific location, we’ll take data from the results of the vote and use it to inform a future decision,” County Councilman Nate Nehring said.
The advisory vote does not ask about the sale or possession of fireworks, only discharge. That doesn’t mean a future ban wouldn’t include limitations on sale and possession, Nehring said.
The ballot item was spurred by a June petition from South County Fire to ban the sale and use of fireworks in huge swaths of suburbia, specifically the unincorporated areas around Everett, Lynnwood and other parts of south county.
Officials from South County Fire and the relatively new agency’s predecessors have been pushing for a ban for the past decade, Commissioner Jim Kenny said.
They have drawn support from residents who complain about frightened pets and others who have suffered property damage or injuries. Some military veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder also have endorsed fireworks restrictions.
Kenny said South County Fire officials have tallied up about $3.7 million in fireworks-related property damage since 2005, and several serious injuries to eyes, hands and arms, among other body parts.
“Our part of the county is getting denser and denser, and there’s just not enough room for people to set off their fireworks,” Kenny said.
A potential ban would not affect cities where the council doesn’t have jurisdiction.
“Even though voters within cities will be voting on that, the county doesn’t have authority to create law within cities,” Nehring said.
Fireworks are already banned in half of the county’s cities, home to more than 300,000 people. Those cities are Brier, Edmonds, Everett, Gold Bar, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway.
Kenny said first responders have seen a decrease in fireworks-related injuries in cities that have enacted bans.
But Mike Luke, who helped prepare comments against Proposition 1, wants to see more solid data.
“Fireworks are not going to go away whether you ban them or not,” he said.
Luke manned a fireworks booth in south Edmonds for seven years.
He noted that many of the fireworks that cause the most trouble, including firecrackers and bottle rockets, are already illegal under state law.
Luke said he worries limiting access to fireworks designed for consumers could lead to more people buying illegal fireworks.
Kenny acknowledged a ban likely won’t be 100% effective.
“It’s not perfect, it’s not going to stop everything, but it does increase the quality of life for people,” he said.
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s at stake?
Proposition 1 asks whether voters would support banning the discharge of fireworks in the unincorporated urban grown areas surrounding the county’s cities.
The vote is advisory only. It would inform the Snohomish County Council’s ongoing discussion on banning fireworks in some urban unincorporated areas, especially in south county.