EUGENE, Ore. — How you celebrate the 4th of July could be changing if you live in Eugene city limits.
City councilors are working on new rules that could impact the use of fireworks.
The Eugene Police Department says the number of noise and fireworks complaints it’s received over the last five years has steadily increased, and that’s just part of the council’s concern.
Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief Randall Groves says the use of illegal fireworks has also increased in recent years.
The danger associated with those fireworks became very real this past summer, when the day after the 4th of July, fireworks set off a fire that ripped through a home on Lakeview Drive.
The fire department says that’s just the danger you can actually see.
“It has an adverse effect on people, especially those with post-traumatic stress syndrome, like our veterans. It has an adverse impact on our animals, both domestic and wild,” said Chief Groves.
Now the city council is trying to find a solution to those problems.
“A really dramatic step would be to ban fireworks completely, only allow them on certain designated places on the 4th of July,” said city councilor Claire Syrett.
But councilors admit that likely may not be very practical or well-received, and they agree that perhaps more rules aren’t really the answer.
Councilor George Poling says the problem isn’t really the laws themselves but the enforcement of them.
“Our law enforcement system is pretty overburdened, and the idea of asking them to chase down folks setting off fireworks may be a bit counterintuitive when there’s other, more serious crime going on,” said Syrett.
The goal is to improve the quality of life for members of the community, and that’s what Monday’s meeting will be about: finding a balance to achieve that.
“We won’t be able to correct anything in one year, but if we can start making improvements and we can get neighbors to talk to neighbors and have that peer pressure in the community, I think we’re all going to be happier and more successful,” said Chief Groves.
Councilors say they don’t expect any decisions to come out of Monday’s meeting.
It is supposed to just be an open-ended discussion to see what options are on the table.
Community members are encouraged to continue to reach out to the council with their opinions and suggestions.