The penalties for San Carlos residents who use or are in possession of fireworks will be doubled under an amendment to the city’s municipal code approved this week by the San Carlos City Council.
Using, possessing or displaying fireworks, including so-called “safe and sane” fireworks, will be charged as a misdemeanor, according to City Attorney Greg Rubens, and would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
Under the city’s prior penalties for illegal use of explosives, those convicted would be eligible for a fine up to $300 and up to three months in jail.
However, those penalties had not been updated since the city first adopted an ordinance in 1926 preventing the use of fireworks.
“It’s a very important issue to us, not just because of the fireworks themselves but because of the public safety threat of a fire in our community that has dramatically increased in recent years,” City Manager Jeff Maltbie said during Monday night’s council meeting.
The $1,000 maximum fine and six-month maximum jail sentence are both the maximum penalties allowed for a misdemeanor under state law, according to Rubens.
Rubens also noted the city modeled its penalty structure off that of Redwood City, which has a fire services contract with the city of San Carlos.
Under the amendment, San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies would be able to cite people with fireworks under the city’s ordinance in addition to the city’s police department.
The council unanimously approved the amendment to the city’s municipal code. The council must hold a second vote to ratify the ordinance for it to go into effect.