On Feb. 16, the Kent City Council passed an ordinance that would ban the possession, sale or use of consumer fireworks year-round within the city, starting February 2017.
Due to the way state law is written, any local ordinance that is stricter than state law has a one-year waiting period before it becomes effective. The law is intended to protect nonprofit and business organizations that purchase fireworks for fundraising activities from having the figurative rug pulled out from under them at the last minute.
Public fireworks displays like those at Lake Meridian Park on July 4 would still be allowed as long as they obtain the proper permits.
Last November, an advisory measure asking voters whether the council should ban fireworks passed 66.47 percent to 33.53 percent.
Numerous complaints from residents to the council over the last 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.
Many people testified about their neighborhoods becoming war zones several days in advance of and following July 4, even though the current city code restricts fireworks to Independence Day. The Lunar New Year is also a popular time for lighting firecrackers.
In lieu of paying fines, community service may also be available to those who commit an infraction, including children under age 16.
According to the 2010 census, the racial makeup of Kent is 55.5 percent white, 11.3 percent Black, 1.0 percent Native American, 15.2 percent Asian, 1.9 percent Pacific Islander, 8.5 percent from other races, and 6.6 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race are 16.6 percent of the population. (end)