Poulsbo leaning toward reducing days for fireworks

After much discussion with the police and fire chief, the Poulsbo City Council is leaning toward limiting the days residents can discharge fireworks in city limits from eight to two days to align with Kitsap County’s regulations.

In the city’s current ordinance, fireworks can be discharged in different timeframes from June 28 through July 5 as well as New Year’s Eve. That law could change to from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 4 and 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. New Year’s Eve.

The other option being considered is a fireworks ban in the city.

“I think being consistent with the county is an excellent idea,” Councilmember Jeff McGinty said. “It would be a little bit of a clarification between the two jurisdictions. I think a total ban is a little bit tough to do right now.”

Councilmember David Musgrove agreed, as did Councilmember Gary McVey, who added the loud and sudden noises of fireworks disturb pets and trigger post-traumatic stress for many people, especially those with military experience.

On the other side, Councilmember Britt Livdahl supports a total ban, citing negative effects on wildlife, small children and those with anxiety.

She mentioned reaching out to the community to see what it wants.

The council also discussed penalties and fees. Fireworks violations are now a misdemeanor, with imprisonment for no more than 90 days, no more than a $1,000 fine, or both.

Musgrove previously suggested a different fee structure.

One option would be civil infractions with the specific monetary penalties, council documents read. That would go through municipal court, just like a traffic ticket, but the fines would be the penalty and no jail time would result.

The civil penalty could increase with subsequent violations. The city could even provide that the first one or two offenses are civil with any subsequent offenses a misdemeanor.

“Enforcement for the fireworks ordinance can be challenging because…it requires officers to see the offense,” police chief Ron Harding said. “The challenge is you have to be at the right place at the right time. We would not use force to gain compliance for a fireworks violation if there were no safety issues for people.”

Harding said if the city decides to change its law there would be increased police presence, enforcement and education during those timeframes.

Whenever the council officially votes on the law, it would not go into effect until a year later. The topic will be brought back to the council at a future meeting.