City settles fireworks lawsuits

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council gave final approval Tuesday to a settlement in a long-running legal dispute over how the city issues permits for the annual July 4th fireworks show in La Jolla and other events.

Ufireworksnder the agreement, Marco Gonzalez of the Coast Law Group will receive $250,000 to end the litigation, while the city will have to perform environmental reviews before issuing future special event permits or discretionary park use permits.

“We started looking at fireworks with SeaWorld and the Big Bay Boom. We’ve been doing this for 15 years,” said Gonzales. “Our goal has always been about protecting sensitive bodies of water.”

Gonzalez filed four lawsuits against the city beginning four years ago, contending that such a review needed to be performed before the city issued permits for the display at La Jolla Cove, and that the city was violating its own municipal code when issuing permits.

The lawyer won three of the four suits, and the last one is on hold while the city appeals the first three, according to documents from the City Attorney’s Office. The documents say the city has a strong appellate case, but it would cost more to continue with the litigation than to settle.

The City Council approved the settlement terms in closed session on April 29 and gave final approval in open session today without comment.

The cases will now be dropped. However, Gonzalez retains the right to legally challenge future city actions in regards to permitting.

Under the deal, the city will have to perform environmental reviews for special event permits and discretionary park permits submitted beginning July 1. Such reviews will also have to be performed for all events that have already been applied for if they’re scheduled to take place beginning or after Jan. 1 of next year.

The documents do not state how extensive the reviews will have to be. City lawyers argued that it wasn’t reasonable to require a costly environmental impact report for the hundreds of smaller events permitted each year.

“It all depends on the scope of the event, of course,” Gonzalez told City News Service. “I expect smaller events will be fine with exemptions (and maybe some larger ones too); but some, such as the Thunderboats, will require significantly more review and mitigation.”

“The Thunderboats” refers to the weekend of racing of powerful hydroplane boats on Mission Bay.

“There are impacts to almost every large event,” said Gonzales. “Sometimes it’s parking. Traffic increases greenhouse gas emissions- sometime its storm water violations.”

Gonzalez targeted the La Jolla Cove fireworks show because it takes place above a protected marine area. Environmentalists contend that debris from the pyrotechnics are harmful to marine life.

The La Jolla Cove show was initially canceled for this year because funding came in too late to contract with a pyrotechnics company. Organizers got a reprieve when a fireworks company was found, and the show is scheduled to go on.

“There’s no scientific proof that the fireworks display harmed any mammal or marine life,” said Deborah Marengo with the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation. “It didn’t hurt the environment at all.”

—– City News Service contributed to this report.


  • Carlos

    What a scam!!!! Lawyers like this are a scam ! Our legal system needs an overhaul. Why does he get $250k for complaining?

  • Paul

    I think that's called EXTORTION. If it weren't for the fact taht he is a lawyer, he would be going to jail for extortion. These are the kinds of lawyers that become our government officials. Disgusting, low-life, money grubbing snakes. OOPS, sorry snakes. You don't deserve that kind of association.

  • Michael

    While I appreciate protection of the environment you just got paid $250K to make the state perform environmental analyses of events that have been going on for decades to very few problems. Glad it's over, no more suits, protest. SD can't afford your Bentley.

  • David

    This guy is an idiot. I understand protecting the environment to a point but fireworks don't really hurt anyone or any thing. And he wants to do away with Thunderbolt also because it hurts the environment just because of the people that travel to it. If he puts that logic to other stuff than we might as well go ahead and eliminate other big events like the San Diego County Fair that's going on right now, concerts, conventions, and so on.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.