Pumpkin is a 10-year-old rescue dog — part pit bull, part dachshund. He was riding the A Line (Blue Line) train a few years back when Charlotte picked him up and took him to her North Long Beach home.
Like many pets, Pumpkin does not like fireworks. He goes crazy trying to dig through the floor. Or sometimes he will take a couple of his pet beds and jam them up against the front door.
“And we sit and cuddle with him, but it’s hard,” said Charlotte, who asked that her last name not be used. “We do what everybody else does that has pets.”
Tonight (Thursday) is New Year’s Eve and wherever you live in Long Beach, you likely will hear fireworks. And you will probably hear them twice because some people like to celebrate East Coast New Year’s at 9 p.m., and then West Coast New Year’s at midnight.
All fireworks within the city’s boundary are illegal, including the “safe and sane” type that can be purchased legally in neighboring cities. Having fireworks or setting them off in the city can result in six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
“Fireworks enforcement is a whole city approach,” said Arantxa Chavarria, public information officer for the Long Beach Police Department. “We will have additional officers on patrol all week, focusing on areas previously identified as having high fireworks activities.
Chavarria said the department has been sending out the message year-round that fireworks are illegal and that LBPD is encouraging people to reach out and call their division if they have fireworks issues.
The fire department will be on stand-by as well.
“The police department is doing the enforcement,” said Jake Heflin, public information officer for the LBFD. “I do know it is a priority of ours to support the police department in efforts and actions and we have investigators to work with our police partners to mitigate that.”
City manager Tom Modica recently released a memo detailing what the city is doing, including the use of social media to publicize its ongoing Celebrate Safely campaign that fireworks activity is illegal. Additionally, the memo reiterated that the city prosecutors’ fireworks portal is operational year-round, allowing residents to directly report illegal fireworks, as well as upload video or photographic evidence of the discharge of fireworks.
Charlotte, who has lives in North Long Beach, is a member of the Facebook group Long Beach Against Illegal Fireworks. She said she has had a good relationship with city officials, but she doesn’t think the city cares about her part of town.
“We were promised the world from the city,” she said. “It was already horrible up until the Fourth of July and in my last email to city officials, I said I felt duped.”
She has kept a positive attitude and has high hopes for tonight, but said she believes it might be a tipping point for some in the Facebook group.
“My fingers are crossed,” she said. “People in our group are threatening to leave Long Beach because of fireworks, but they are going to stay if there is a real effort to hand out citations. We understand there are things more important, but this deserves the city’s attention.
“We are lucky that the city has started a task force and has money allocated to fight fireworks, even in a time of COVID,” she added. “Our city is willing and trying, but there needs to be more of an effort.”