Fireworks; Lunch & Learn: The AIDS Memorial Pathway Project; June Constituent Email Report


In Seattle, except for permitted fireworks displays, fireworks are illegal under the  Seattle Fire Code.

The Seattle Fire Blog and the SPD Blotter both published posts encouraging residents to leave the fireworks to professionals, and requesting that you call 911 only in the event of an emergency.

After hearing a number of constituent complaints in West Seattle and South Park, I sent a letter to the Mayor requesting that SPD take action on fireworks, a follow up to my letter from last year. In 2017 when I requested SPD enforce fireworks laws, they indicated they received too many complaints to respond to. So, I requested they emphasize warnings and confiscate fireworks.

My letter to the Mayor this year notes “my concerns are that with ever-escalating fireworks use, the current laissez-faire approach, will one day result in either someone getting hurt at the scene of an unlawful fireworks display and/or 911 response will suffer with human consequences.”

I requested that SPD “exercise a plan in 2019 that will emphasize warnings and confiscation of fireworks to impact behavioral change.”

I received a reply today that stated SPD and the Fire Department held a press conference noting that fireworks are illegal and dangerous, and that July 4th is a very busy day for the two departments, and that SPD does not have the capacity to respond to every non-emergency complaint regarding illegal fireworks.

To be clear, I never suggested that SPD should respond to every single fireworks complaint.  In fact, our data from previous years is an indicator that they respond to very few complaints at all.  For instance, in 2017, I found that of 132 fireworks complaints from resident in the Southwest Precinct only two reports were written.

Subsequent to my original letter of June 18, I followed up with a request to the Mayor and SPD to consider the innovative approach the Eastside city of Bellevue is taking, as noted in the Bellevue Reporter.

This approach is designed to reduce the number of 911 calls and generate a picture of where fireworks activity is concentrated for enforcement purposes.  If replicated, this approach would allow SPD to focus enforcement efforts where the greatest number of complaints and greatest danger from illegal fireworks use exists.

The post on the City of Bellevue’s website notes that on the evening of July 4th Bellevue’s service portal and phone app will include a “report fireworks” category. Seattle has a similar service portal  and the find-it-fix-it phone app.

According to the Bellevue Reporter article, “The inputted data will then be added to a heat map with “hot spots” pointing to areas with the most activity. Dedicated crews of police and fire officials will head out quickly to areas with the most reports, said Meeghan Black with the Bellevue Police Department.”

The post notes that “police officers and firefighters will conduct fireworks emphasis patrols throughout the city on July 4.”

The Bellevue Reporter article notes that the “hope is that the reporting tool will reduce the number of firework 911 calls that swamp phone lines during the holiday” so that 911 isn’t flooded with non-emergency calls that can make it more difficult for callers with true emergencies to get through.

Seattle could use our Find It Fix It App in a similar fashion.

This is a clear illustration of how the chain of command works: The law clearly says that unpermitted fireworks use is illegal.  Yet, Councilmembers are not part of the chain of command and cannot compel SPD to enforce (or not enforce) particular laws. This is a function wholly reserved to the executive branch of government. I was asked the other day what I would do to be more effective in ensuring that this existing law was enforced in the future.  Given that the decisions about whether and how to enforce the fireworks ban lies with the Mayor, regretfully, I can’t think of another approach to informing people with fireworks complaints to follow the advice included in the letter from the Mayor’s office: “if you or your constituents have any emergency concerns regarding fireworks, they should call 911. If the situation is not an emergency, we encourage you to contact the SPD non-emergency number at (206) 625-5011.”

If you don’t receive a satisfactory response, you might want to consider contacting the Mayor’s Office too.

Lunch & Learn: The AIDS Memorial Pathway Project

Join Committee Chairs Herbold and Juarez on Tuesday July 7/9 from noon- 1:30 pm for Lunch-at-Learn to hear about The AMP from the Office of Arts & Culture, commissioned artists, and community members.

RSVP here.

In 2020, the plaza over Seattle’s Capitol Hill Light Rail Station next to Cal Anderson Park will become home to The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway. The AMP will feature dynamic art installations and plaza space that will enshrine the historical and current efforts of advocates and activists fighting to end HIV/AIDS and discrimination.

The AMP is coming together through the passionate leadership of volunteers and community leaders, including people living with HIV, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In the spring of 2018 The AMP partnered with the City’s Office of Arts & Culture to commission artist Horatio Hung-Yan Law to write a master art plan guided by months of outreach and conversation with communities affected by HIV/AIDS, especially people of color, transgender individuals, and other historically under-represented communities.

Agency and private partners that have also played a role will be featured in this conversation: Former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen; artist Christopher Paul Jordan; Office of Arts & Culture Director Randy Engstrom; Rosette Royale, The AMP story-gathering consultant; Royal Alley-Barnes, MAT, civic thought leader; The AMP Project Manager Jason Plourde;  Michele Hasson, The AMP Chair; Kristen Ramirez The AMP Project Manager; and Office of Arts & Culture Communications Director Erika Lindsay.

June Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in June, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in June related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

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