Fireworks Fly Over Proposed Regs

Share this:


A couple of times a year, fireworks will light up the sky over Newport Harbor to the delight of thousands of people who marvel at the show in the sky.  Disneyland and Sea World host the most firework displays annually in Southern California, and most people will say that fireworks are as patriotic as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.  (Yes, Chevys. I own Fords from our local Theodore Robins Ford, but that is another story.)

We have two firework displays in Newport – the Newport Dunes’ annual Fourth of July fireworks, and the new tradition with the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade’s fireworks.  The Parade’s fireworks are shot off the Balboa Pier on the last night of parade.  Of course, there are a minority of people who do not like nor enjoy the fireworks, but some people do not like having any fun, either.

Well, the naysayers may get their wish and fireworks may fizzle out from the skies of California if the Regional Water Quality Board in San Diego approves very expensive permitting and reporting requirements for San Diego Harbor and Mission Bay.  The board wants to rule that any firework that is shot over a body of water is classified as a “point source” pollutant.  If this ruling occurs in San Diego to our south, then it will not be long before the regulation(s) creep up the coast to Newport and inland to waterways such as Lake Arrowhead, which also has a great Fourth of July fireworks display.

The ruling will not ban fireworks over water but require sponsors to apply for and pay permit fees and conduct expensive and ridiculous water monitoring and reporting that can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

I have two huge problems with this proposed regulation, not to mention the over-abundance of environmental regulations in California.

First, where is the data showing that fireworks are polluting the water and harming sea life?  There is none for that, but Sea World has the data to prove negligible environmental impact from their approximately 150 shows annually.  So, let me great this straight, it is fine for Disneyland to light the sky every night with firework debris falling over a very densely human-populated area. That is deemed not harmful. But fireworks with the debris falling over the water is harmful to the aquatic life.  Not harmful enough to ban the firework displays over water. Just harmful enough to tack on a new fee.

“Follow the money” is the phase used by law enforcement investigators, and we should follow the money.  Why does the water quality board need to add a tax – and yes this permit fee is a tax – and who will do all the testing and reporting costing as much as $100,000 per event?  Who is actually pushing the board to adopt this regulation as it may be those who will profit from the regulation?

As California’s unemployment rate remains at historically high levels, the water quality board wants to put shackles on another industry and those working to earn an honest living.  Show me the data, show me the harmful effects, and show the public the data from Sea World’s firework fallout, because I do not believe any regulation should be based on a hyperbole or intended to put dollars in someone’s pocket.

What can you do?  Make your voices heard to the Regional Water Quality Control Board in San Diego before Newport loses two annual events that the majority enjoys with their families.  Get off your couch as before long, smiling in public may be banned, because someone smiling in public is being disrespectful to someone having a bad day or to a naysayer.

Tip of the week is what do you think of the Newport Beach Harbor Commissions’ giving the thumbs up for sailboat races in the harbor to exceed the harbor’s speed limit?  I have no problem with the exception as the limit has been exceeded for decades and most of us sail over 5 knots now.  Let’s be realistic with our regulations, and those racers who recklessly or abuse the extra speed should be cited or banned from racing for a period of time.

As the City Council now reviews the regulation, the Council should write the exception so that the recreational sailors are allowed to exceed the limit on a windy day when the harbor has little traffic, like on a winter day.  The speed limit is for safety when the harbor is crowded with boaters, but primarily the speed limit is to protect docks from the wakes caused by boats going faster.  Yet, most sailboats, especially multihull boats, create very small and non-damaging wakes.

And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific.  Join Chandler Bell and me as we talk about “all things boating.”  You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at or

Until next week, Safe Voyages!

Share this: