Juneau had a Black Lives Matter march last June that drew several hundred people to make demands of the city regarding various policing policies.
Two weeks earlier, the municipality cancelled the annual fireworks show for the Fourth of July. It was too dangerous for people to come downtown to watch the show, even from their cars.
What did Juneauites do? They bought fireworks from Tlingit-Haida Central Council, and shot them off in their own neighborhoods.
Now, the Juneau Assembly is planning to ban all fireworks that make a bang.
Some see this as government creating the first problem (canceling the popular fireworks show downtown) and now trying to solve the problem of personal fireworks use by making the celebration of the nation’s birth illegal.
A draft ordinance is under discussion at the Assembly, modeled after a fireworks policy from before 2016, which generally allowed fireworks between specific hours for New Years Eve and for the Fourth of July, which is Juneau’s high holy day.
Assemblywoman Michelle Bonnet Hale is behind the effort to make novelties like bang-snaps and firecrackers illegal.
The City and Borough changed its fire code in 2016, to prohibit personal use fireworks, but Tlingit Haida owns land near Eaglecrest Ski Area on North Douglas Island, and last year found a way to get some revenue out of the city’s cancelation of the annual fireworks show.
Whether or not Tlingit Haida will give up that new-found revenue is in doubt, and it can declare sovereignty that may not be challenged by the politically sensitive city. The tribal council again set up a fireworks stand on its Fish Creek Road land off of North Douglas Highway over the Christmas holidays. Some fireworks packages sold for as much as $800.
Juneau residents can also get fireworks through mail order and may be creating new family and neighborhood traditions, if the city isn’t doing fireworks shows.
“Notably, this ordinance would only allow nonconcussive saleable fireworks on New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July within the Fire Service Area (Thane to Cohen Drive, and Sandy Beach to N. Douglas Boat Ramp), which is a change from the 2016 era CBJ Fireworks Policy,” the city attorney wrote.
According to the draft ordinance, the fine would go from $300 to $500 for violations of the new fireworks code.
The fireworks ordinance language is at this link, which has the agenda for the Feb. 1 meeting and attached documents: