City Aims to Keep July 4 Celebrations Safe and Sane

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By Haylee Barber | NB Indy

Fireworks over Fashion Island. — Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©
Fireworks over Fashion Island.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©

This year’s Newport Beach Fourth of July celebrations will feature an All-American, all bases covered and “no strikes” policy for anyone seeking to enjoy Fourth of July in the city, according to Newport Beach Police Department Chief Jay Johnson, who made a special presentation to the City Council this week.

The NBPD, in collaboration with city staff, has worked for months in preparation for the holiday, which the city hopes will focus on family friendly fun and aims to keep large crowds and party disturbances at bay.

“In our presentation we will talk mainly about West Newport,” said Police Chief Jay R. Johnson at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “While that is the bulk of our activity, we do have the rest of the city covered. All of our resources are not in West Newport. This is citywide.”

During this year’s Fourth of July preparation, both city staff and especially the NBPD acknowledged that the holiday falls on a Friday, which might mean larger numbers of people flocking to the beach to join in the coastal celebration.

The city will take an all hands on deck, no-tolerance approach in regulating large crowds, parties, and especially fireworks (which are prohibited in Newport Beach) during this year’s celebration.

What we’ve really done for the past few months leading up to this Fourth of July is take the time to sit our personnel down and really educate them on the importance of getting out there and enforcing these laws,” said Lt. Evan Sailor, NBPD Operations Chief.

To prepare for the holiday, the Police Department has created a flexible, adaptable strategy to approaching problems. New this year is a crowd management team in which officers with special training will be assigned to areas that have previously produced crowd-control issues in the past.

In terms of parties, the department has been proactive in reaching out to previous offenders, rental property management companies, and property owners in an attempt to educate them on the importance of keeping the party noise, size, and activity reasonable and family friendly.

The city will also utilize LUGO (Loud Unruly Gathering Ordinance) for the fourth consecutive year, allowing officers to issue citations for every person in attendance at gatherings that get out of control. The ordinance gives the city more leverage in responding to parties, as citations are expensive and increase upon multiple responses.

NBPD has also, for the first time, instituted measures to monitor all lines of communication.

“This year, for the first time, we will be monitoring social media” said Lt. Sailor. “The goal is to be preventative in our actions. If we can identify an issue prior to it occurring, that is the goal.”

In addition to officers from the NBPD, the city will obtain assistance from officers in surrounding counties.

What may seem like a bit of an aggressive preparatory approach is actually the result of the city’s attempt to change the culture of the holiday from what was a wild environment to one appropriate, and fun, for all ages.

“Five years ago, I recall a meeting with City Manager Dave Kiff,” said Councilman Michael Henn. “I asked him if he thought we could change the culture in West Newport. He said I think we can and I am game to try. We envisioned a five year milestone and we are now coming up on that milestone.”

“The dedication to preventative activity and community involvement is great example of the team working together to make a great change” said Mayor Rush Hill.

 

July 4 Tips and Closures

-The city will once again create a Safety Enhancement Zone for holiday.

The Zone is between 32nd St. to 54th St. bounded by Coast Highway and Newport Blvd. Fines are tripled in this zone on the holiday.

– If you are traveling westbound on Balboa Blvd. from 32nd St. to Coast Highway, left turn pockets will be closed at 36th, 39th, 41st, 43rd, and 45th streets. Superior Hill. Parking Lot and Villa Apuerto will also be closed.

-Fireworks are prohibited in Newport Beach.

-Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in all public areas.

-Fire pits are limited to charcoal—no wood.

-Water balloons, squirt guns, and garden hoses being sprayed at pedestrians or vehicles is illegal and will result in citation or arrest.

 

Where to Watch Fireworks

–Newport Dunes is holding its annual Fourth of July Celebration featuring live music with KC and the Sunshine Band as headliners, carnival games, face painting and other kids activities, and fireworks. Visit NewportDunes.com for details.

 

Tips on grilling and fireworks safety from ReadyOC:

Grilling Safety:

The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors

Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area

Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it

Never leave your grill unattended and be ready to extinguish potential flames with a working fire extinguisher

If you smell gas while cooking with a propane grill, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department

 

Firework Area Safety:

Leave fireworks to the professionals. Do not use consumer fireworks (illegal in Newport).

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.

If you’re close to the display area, clear away debris and combustibles

Your viewing area should be at least 20 feet away from the firework display area

Keep streets clear for emergency vehicles

Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the Newport Beach fire or police department

Sparklers cause 16 percent of fireworks injuries. In 2011, almost 18,000 fires were caused by fireworks.

For more information, visit ReadyOC.com.

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