Kent City Councilman Thomas wants to remove fireworks ban

‘We went too far, too fast’

It’s too late to change the law for this Fourth of July, but Kent City Councilman Les Thomas wants to revoke the city’s fireworks ban.

Thomas proposed to drop the ban and restore the former ordinance at the council’s Public Safety Committee on June 12, but the motion failed for a lack of a second from his fellow committee members Bill Boyce and Toni Troutner.

Kent prohibits the sale, possession and discharge of consumer fireworks year-round. The former city code allowed fireworks to be discharged from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4 and the sale of legal fireworks from June 28 to July 4.

Thomas voted against the ban two years ago. He still believes it’s a bad law.

“Why do we need an ordinance where you could slap a 12 year old or the parents a $250 fine for a sparkler?” Thomas said at the committee meeting. “I think we went too far, too fast.”

Boyce said he wasn’t ready to remove the ban.

“It’s something we can talk about later, at a workshop or whatever,” Boyce said. “Maybe we can bring it up and talk about it again. I respect what you say but I cannot second it.”

Troutner said she agreed further discussion down the road makes sense.

Police Chief Rafael Padilla told the committee enforcement of the fireworks ban is a challenge because of staffing issues and so many emergency calls that come in on the Fourth of July.

“You said you couldn’t respond to all of the calls that came in,” Thomas said in response to Padilla. “We couldn’t last year or the year before. The arrests aren’t significantly different – five one year and then four and three.”

When Thomas argued against the ban two years ago he said it wouldn’t stop people from buying fireworks elsewhere and setting them off in town.

The rest of the council voted for the ban in part because Kent voters (62 percent) approved a ban in a November 2015 advisory vote to the council. Numerous complaints from residents to the council the previous few years about fireworks going off in their neighborhoods before, during and after the Fourth of July caused the council to consider a ban and ask for the advisory vote.

“I’m always one to stir the pot,” Thomas said before his proposal failed.

After neither Boyce nor Troutner gave him a second, Thomas promised there’s more to come.

“I want everyone to know how strongly I feel and I will pursue this and try to get a second,” he said.

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