SAN DIEGO — People who live in our sprawling region are used to the questions: “Sure, that’s how they do it in the city of San Diego, but what are the rules in Chula Vista? Or Poway? How about La Mesa?”
Living in a county made up of several cities — including some pretty large ones — means confusing guidelines on everything from local law to who picks up your trash. Some rules are determined by the county, some by the city, and it’s hard to know which policies apply where.
The answer to a question that’s top-of-mind this Fourth of July weekend is pretty straightforward though: Are personal-use fireworks legal in San Diego? No. How about Chula Vista, Poway or La Mesa? Still no.
Anywhere in the greater San Diego area, you can bet the answer will be the same. Here’s how the city puts it:
“There’s really only one thing you need to know about consumer fireworks: all consumer fireworks are illegal in the City and County of San Diego. That includes sparklers, firecrackers, cherry bombs, bottle rockets and even poppers. All consumer fireworks are illegal in the City and County of San Diego.”
They said it twice, in case you didn’t catch that: “All consumer fireworks are illegal in the City and County of San Diego.” Officials say that’s due to safety issues, for the community and for individuals.
They point to the National Fire Protection Association, which bluntly states that “there is no safe way to use consumer fireworks.”
“There are far more U.S. fires reported on a typical Independence Day than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires,” the association reports.
They also result in thousands of injuries each year, with the highest rates among teenagers between ages 15 and 19, and in children ages 5 to 9.
But not every part of California takes the no-tolerance tack. Some cities in neighboring Imperial County, Los Angeles County and Orange County allow consumer fireworks, though others in the same region do not. Check the individual city’s website for more information if you’re visiting.
In those areas that do allow personal fireworks, the state still only allows products deemed “safe and sane” by the state fire marshal. You can learn more about that designation here.
If you’re spending your Fourth of July in a legal city and decide to buy fireworks, you should look for kiosks that specifically highlight their “safe and sane” approval, avoiding any illegal sellers.
Fortunately for folks staying in San Diego, there’s no shortage of professional shows locally, from the return of fireworks on Mission Bay to the Big Bay Boom, the huge display on San Diego Bay that you can also watch on FOX 5. Review our full guide to shows around the county here.