July 2010 home page

  Fireworks at the Fairgrounds?
Sherryl L. Parks | Kalamath Drive


Photo courtesy Microsoft Corporation

In May the 22nd Agriculture District Association was put on notice that permits are required for their annual 4th of July fireworks display into the San Dieguito Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean. The letter was sent by non-profit Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF) – a group organized by surfers in North San Diego County to advocate for the protection and enhancement of coastal natural resources and to help protect the quality of life for coastal residents.

In a carefully written letter CERF pointed to case law for the requirement of two permits: A Coastal Development Permit (CDP), which is required since the Fairgrounds firework display is adjacent to an environmentally sensitive habitat area and wetlands. Animal and plant life are either rare or especially valuable in this area and the embers, paper products and chemicals launched by fireworks could damage the area. There has also been extensive restoration of the wetlands to enhance life and any disturbance or backsliding cannot be acceptable, according to CERF.

Additionally the CERF letter notes the Agriculture District Association must file a permit pursuant to the Clean Water Act called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit. Citing the discharge of pollutants into both the San Dieguito Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean, the Clean Water Act is concerned that fireworks have a fallout zone of 500 to 2,000 feet, and this includes the area within the Restoration Project and wetlands.

What might this mean to residents in Del Mar? If the Agriculture District Association ignores the letter we may not have our annual fireworks to view this 4th of July. When speaking to Marco Gonzalez, Attorney for Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation and a co-author of the letter to the Agriculture District Association, he intends to follow up, perhaps with litigation, if the fairgrounds ignores filing the two permits prior to any fireworks this year. Mr. Gonzalez noted in the letter, that fireworks displays have been on going since 1993 and continuing to ignore the permit requirements will not be allowed. At the time of the Sandpiper’s publication we have not received any word that the fairgrounds have filed these permits.


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