San Mateo County has hiked fines for all fireworks violations to $1,000, which is 10 times the amount of the previous fine for a first violation.
The County’s fireworks ordinance was also amended this week to state that violators who cause a serious injury or property damage in excess of $1,000 can additionally face a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. The ordinance also now holds owners accountable if violations occur on their property.
Previous to this week’s amendments of the fireworks ordinance, anyone who possessed, stored, used or sold fireworks would have faced fines of $100 for the first violation, increasing to $200 and $500 for subsequent violations within a one-year period. County officials hope increasing all fines to $1,000 and creating a misdemeanor classification will work to deter illegal fireworks use within the County amid a high wildfire risk season.
“I have heard from my constituents about the number of unpermitted fireworks going off, not only near and during the July 4th holiday, but even now,” said Supervisor Warren Slocum, who co-sponsored the ordinance, which was amended for the first time in 35 years. “They are very concerned for their safety and that of their neighborhood. So am I – and that is why this new ordinance with the increased fines is so important.”
All fireworks are illegal to possess, sell or use in the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County. This includes fireworks labeled “safe and sane,” such as sparklers, fountains, snakes and smoke balls. In addition to County penalties, state law includes possible fines of up to $50,000 for the possession of unaltered dangerous fireworks.