Oahu a Mayor's signature away from partial fireworks ban

Joy Marshall
Joy Marshall
An unidentified testifier
An unidentified testifier
Rod Tam (arm raised) and Romy Cachola (on right in lei)
Rod Tam (arm raised) and Romy Cachola (on right in lei)
Lee Donohue
Lee Donohue

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday passed a fireworks ban.

If and when it goes into effect next year, it'll be a partial ban. Families would still be able to get fire crackers, but only on certain days and there's a limit on how many they could buy.

Oahu is a just Mayor's signature away from new fireworks rules meant to cut down the industry's black market and the smoke.

"It's a big health issue and a big safety issue. I have a son with asthma," said Joy Marshall, a Mililani resident who supports the ban.

But here's what's still allowed under the bill: for a $25 permit, an adult can buy up to 5,000 firecrackers on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Chinese New Year's Day, Fourth of July, and for cultural uses, such as births, deaths, weddings, blessings, and anniversaries.

What's not allowed are novelty items including sparklers, fountains, and paperless firecrackers.

Critics say the City Council is targeting the wrong group.

"Don't ban the fountains and the paperless firecrackers, and go after the people that are really causing the problem, the illegal fireworks that are being put on the market by these display companies," said a testifier, who works in the fireworks business.

The vote was 7 to 2, with Council members Romy Cachola and Rod Tam opposed.

Both say they want a ban, but want to wait until the state completes its fireworks report in January.

"We have incomplete legislation. There is a task force of the State of Hawaii reviewing fact finding on what is good use of fireworks and what is bad use," said Tam.

"You know resolutions and task force really don't cut it for me. Today we had a chance to make a statement and I'm glad we did," said Council member Lee Donohue, saying in his experience as a former police chief, state task force resolutions take a long time.

The vote is the first rule change in years.

Just this Spring, the Legislature gave counties the power to create their own fireworks laws.

Both the acting Mayor and Mayor-elect have said they support a ban.

It's unknown if they'll sign off on this latest version, meant as a compromise on this fiery issue.

Professional fireworks shows are not affected by the bill.

If the Mayor signs it, the law would take effect January 2nd, which means this New Year's could be the last time fans will enjoy commercial fireworks.

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