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Costs skyrocket for Cove fireworks

It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without the annual fireworks display at the Cove, which is co-sponsored by restaurateur George Hauer and First Republic Bank.

The pyrotechnic classic, now in its 24th year, not only gets bigger and better each year, but more expensive.

The primary reason: The city no longer is willing - or able - to pick up the whole tab for required public services such as police protection.

“In 2003, the City Council passed an ordinance establishing rates for special events,” said Lt. Dan Christman of the San Diego Police Department, who is in charge of special events for the city of San Diego. “The city has been making a concerted effort since then to bring all the events under compliance with the municipal code. It is simply a more transparent process. You know what the community pays for versus what the city pays for.”

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In prior years, Hauer has only had to obtain a park use permit to host the Fourth of July celebration. Now he’s being required to get a special event permit to stage the event. While there is not a great difference in the cost of the two permits, the scope of services mandated by a special use permit adds to the expense.

“George (Hauer) was hoping maybe we could put the billing off for another year,” said Christman. “But it’s not fair to people we billed last year for events like this.”

How much additional expense will a special-use permit entail?

“Police services for this will be in the neighborhood of $2,500 to $2,600,” said Christman. “Then there are additional costs, like some $400 for posting of event notice signs, which organizers of events through the city always pay. This needs a special event permit because it requires the closure of a street. It’s got a large gathering of people, and it requires police services, that pretty much means you need a special-event permit.”

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Christman noted there are 400 special event permits issued by the city of San Diego throughout the year for all manner of public events that require streets to be closed down, or public parks to be used. “We do 1,600 to 2,000 park-use permits a year,” he added.

Regardless of increasing costs, Hauer said the show will go on again this Friday, July 4. But, he noted the amount of bureaucratic red tape that is now required to stage the fireworks display, compared to the way things were when he started out doing it more than 20 years ago, is alarming.

“I really can’t complain because it’s been a big event, and for quite some time they have been cutting us some slack on all the approvals,” said Hauer. “But this year, I’ve got seven different (city) departments I have to get approvals from, the most difficult being police and fire, and for good reason.”

It’s not so much the event itself but the aftermath that proves troublesome, when it comes to crowd control and traffic circulation. Said Hauer: “After the event is over, everybody is so intent on getting out of there that cars start roaring around and there are still people on the street and the concern is that some people are going to get run over.”

Hauer added Coast Boulevard will be closed from the lifeguard staCosts skyrocket for Cove fireworkstion over to South Coast Boulevard, which will be closed to parking from 5 to 10 p.m. on the Fourth. Cave Street going down to the Cove will also be closed to through traffic during the same hours on the holiday.

Hauer would not say if costs might weigh against future Cove displays. “Right now we have to deal with today,” he said. “I can’t make any comment on what’s going to happen next.”

There are a couple of other popular Independence Day events celebrated elsewhere in LA Jolla. The 29th annual Beaumont Avenue 4th of July Celebration in Bird Rock, will have a parade beginning at 10 a.m. starting at Camino de la Costa and ending at the cul-de-sac behind the Methodist Church.

At the end of the parade, there is a celebration with music and food, hot dogs, popcorn and homemade cookies. Live entertainment is being provided once again by the Sophisticats band.

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Julie Cockrell, co-chair of the Bird Rock parade, along with Erica Meyer, said the event is now intricately woven into the fabric of the community. “It’s just a real neighborhood tradition,” she said. “Everybody in the community looks forward to it. The spirit of the holiday, the summer: It’s just part of the community.”

Also not to be missed is the homegrown Beach-Barber Tract parade begun by Max and Melissa Elliott in 1974.

The bash started out small, 10 kids and some parents. Cookie tins with straps on them and chopsticks for drums and wagons with stuffed animals in them. Somebody’s kid had a bugle. Someone else had a pair of old, gold go-go boots they wore. Neighborhood kids went around the block then through to White Sands Retirement Center. At the end, watermelon and lemonade were consumed and participants sang “God Bless America.”

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