EVERETT — A new proposal would ban fireworks in many urban parts of Snohomish County where they aren’t banned already.
The County Council is in the early stages of considering an ordinance to prohibit selling or igniting common fireworks around cities with bans in place. It would apply to future annexation areas. The territory in question spans from Everett south to the King County line and eastward just beyond 35th Avenue SE near Mill Creek.
All but one city in that area prohibit fireworks.
“I’m not an anti-fireworks guy. I think there’s a great time and a place for that and my family and I use fireworks,” said County Councilman Sam Low, who suggested the idea. “But … the type of fireworks that are going off on the Fourth of July are just not appropriate for urban areas. And so, kind of distinguishing between our rural and our urban areas, that’s why I put this one forward.”
Low said he was motivated after hearing from constituents who were upset by fireworks being set off in densely populated unincorporated neighborhoods. His colleagues often get similar calls.
The proposal was first discussed at a council committee meeting in recent weeks and is due to come up again later this month.
Places that would be affected by the ban, as now written, include neighborhoods near Everett’s Silver Lake, Esperance in unincorporated Edmonds and areas south of Mukilteo such as Picnic Point.
Chris Kosies, a homeowner in the unincorporated Eastmont area of Everett, said she approached Low this summer out of frustration with the dangers and annoyances from fireworks every year around July 4. One summer, “it felt like cannons going off,” she said. “It was really, really loud.”
“It’s kind of out of control,” she said. “They light them off until 1 or 2 in the morning.”
Kosies said she explored starting a petition for a neighborhood-specific fireworks ban, a process the council created two years ago. She wound up discouraged by the amount of work it would take, with no guarantee of success in the end.
Many issues in her neighborhood — such as bottle rockets or explosions before and after July 4 — are illegal already. Kosies still believes a ban will help.
“You’ve gotta start somewhere,” she said. “You can start by fining people if they break the law.”
County code lists fireworks violations as an infraction carrying a maximum penalty of $500.
Though Low suggested the new restriction, it would have the greatest impact outside his east county district, in areas represented by Councilman Terry Ryan and Council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright.
“I might be able to support this,” Ryan said. “I’ve received a lot of complaints about fireworks in my district and a lot of other districts in unincorporated Snohomish County. I would like a map to show exactly what neighborhoods would be affected. I just want to understand all of the affected neighborhoods and how this would be enforced. Then we could come to a good decision.”
Ryan in 2016 proposed putting a ban to a countywide advisory vote. He and Wright supported the idea, but their colleagues rejected it.
Even if the council were to act quickly on the new proposal, the law would not take effect right away. Under state law, local fireworks restrictions cannot take effect until a year after being adopted. July 4 is the only day of the year when it’s legal to set off fireworks in unincorporated Snohomish County.
As drafted by Low and council staff, the ban would still allow consumer fireworks in large patches of southwest county not claimed by cities for future annexation. That includes the area around Lake Stickney between Everett and Lynnwood; the Meadowdale area of Lynnwood; a swath of land on the east side of I-5 near Lynnwood; and residential areas east of Mill Creek such as Silver Firs and The Falls at Snohomish Cascade.
In southwest county, Bothell is the only city that hasn’t banned fireworks. Two years ago, in an advisory measure, voters there opposed a ban.