By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- During Council comments June 16, Mayor Tim Flynn felt compelled to discuss the issue of people setting off fireworks in the city.
He told the council, television and webcast audiences that it has never been worse.
"We have just under three weeks until July 4," he said. "Usually, the fireworks go on for a week, or even two weeks after July 4, so for all intensive purposes, we have another month of fireworks."
Flynn lives in the Wilson Historic. District and said if the fireworks are anything like they are where he lives in other neighborhoods, Friday and Saturday night sounds like mortar fire.
"It can happen during the week," he said. "There are 20-30 loud explosions going on in my neighborhood, sometimes on a nightly basis."
He understands that the city has limitations about what it can do.
"There could be 200, 300, or 400 people shooting off these fireworks on a Friday or Saturday night," he said. There are 10-15 police officers on a weekend shift. How can 10 or 15 people respond to 200, 300, or 400 people shooting off fireworks?"
Flynn wants the neighborhood councils to reactivate the Neighborhood Watch program.
"How can the Neighborhood Councils assist the police," he asked. "We're not asking the neighborhood council to go out and confront the people. That's not what the purpose is. It's to be the eyes and ears of the police department."
Flynn plans on contacting his neighborhood chair and other chairs about his idea.
"I am going to ask them to reactivate their neighborhood watch," he said. "If they've never had one, I am going to ask them to activate a neighborhood watch. That way, the police department can get more precise information about where they're setting these fireworks off."
After one set of announcements he got involved with, he said the police department got 175 fireworks-related calls.
The issue might involve action and overtime for the city if the council approves more officers on the street to follow up on the complaints.
"Assistant Chief Sonstegard told me it's not going to do much good if the neighborhood chairs get this information, and it takes us 20-30 minutes to get on the scene," Flynn said. "I strongly encourage my colleagues to get more people involved. This has gone beyond a celebration and is a nuisance in our city. It's time we do something about it."
Councilman Bet Perello loves the idea, but he wants to catch the person, issue a fine and recoup some of the overtime costs.
"I don't want to give residents a sense of false hope," he said.
City Attorney Stephen Fischer said the council exceeded its allotted time for the item, but they will bring an item forward at the next city council meeting.."