San Ramon fireworks plan sparks debate at forum

Nearby residents fear crowds, fallout, fire

About 50 people turned out Wednesday night to speak out against a plan to bring fireworks back to San Ramon.

During a two-hour forum, residents from the area proposed for the fireworks launch brought up more than a dozen concerns, ranging from fire danger to streets and trails becoming filled with outsiders coming to watch the Independence Day show.

The current proposal is to use Old Ranch Park as a place to shoot off the fireworks, but not as a place to watch them. The park would be secured, allowing access only to the pyrotechnicians, police and firefighters.

The city assembled a team to scout out possible locations for the aerial display, including interim Police Chief Joe Gorton, San Ramon Valley Fire Marshal Christina Keifer, city workers and the fireworks coordinator.

The plan would cost an estimated $167,000 and would close streets in the area at about 8:30 p.m. to prevent spectators from getting near the launch site. The show would begin at about 9:35 p.m. and end near 10 p.m.

The area "is owned by the city, including the fallout zone," Keifer told the crowd. "We have a lot of open space in the area.

The show is meant to be for San Ramon residents, and any advertising of it would be local to keep crowds of out-of-towners away. The potential of a large crowd from outside the area gathering in local neighborhoods was the prime concern to most of those at the meeting.

"The vast majority of people (coming for the show) are not from the area," said Jeff Larson, one of those opposed to the proposed location. "They're going to do everything they can to get close to the fireworks … This is thousands of cars. This is Candlestick Park."

Although the city cannot legally prevent people from elsewhere from attending the show, Gorton said, "We would have a large contingent of officers in south San Ramon" in the area near the launch site.

Motorcycle, bicycle and K-9 officer would be spread across the city, he said.

"Our primary concern is emergency access," Gorton said. At the last fireworks show, two years ago, much of the city was gridlocked for hours, blocking emergency vehicles.

Opponent Farrakh Khodadadi said forcing the fireworks on one section of San Ramon could polarize the city, and threatened legal action.

"If you're going to push this forward, you're going to have lawsuits on your hands, because we will fight you," Khodadadi said.


Like this comment
Posted by Tracy
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 20, 2014 at 7:51 am

I'm surprised that this is an issue that these residents want to sue over. Where were they over the last 30+ years when the fireworks displays were happening. The city only cancelled the last couple of years due to budget cuts. Are they new to the area or just sue happy?

If they live close enough to the gridlock of cars, then they are close enough to watch the fireworks display from their homes. A big bonus! It's one night a year and its such a great tradition, just like the parade in Danville. Suck it up for a night!

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Posted by Beth
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 20, 2014 at 11:32 am

Are these people for real? I'd venture to guess that they have no interest in the city's traditional fireworks display. It's the NIMBY syndrome at its worst - for the 4th of July, of all things. One day out of the year! Yes, I bet those pesky people from Danville and Dublin may come to watch. So, will the city allow the 50 "squeaky wheel" minority whiners to overrule the 70,000+ other people who live in San Ramon? I'm a homeowner & I want them!!!!! And I also play to watch the parade in Danville that day. That's what neighbors do.

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Posted by Laura
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:14 am

I am a new homeowner in San Ramon and would love to see the fireworks back in the community. I have heard that it is a wonderful display and yes, I've heard others come to celebrate in San Ramon. I will gladly watch them from my home and have my friends from neighboring areas join me. As a health care professional I agree that access for emergency vehicles CANNOT be compromised. I think that should be doable with a plan in place. This isn't rocket science folks.

Like this comment
Posted by Karyne Ghantous
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 22, 2014 at 8:28 am

The City should not acquiesce to a minority of residents who are against bringing back our over 20 year tradition. Do another electronic survey, 300 residents supported the fireworks even with an estimated cost of $300K. The City can work with other cities to ensure a safe show. Livermore has a wonderful show for their residents, San Ramon needs one for ours. As for the threatened litigation, I don't think the City should have any fear-- I am confident the opponents will figure out quickly the law is not on their side if the attorneys' fees don't dissuade them:)

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