Organizers planning fireworks shows despite threats

Despite the possibility that a lawsuit might be filed to snuff out Fourth of July fireworks in La Jolla and Del Mar, local organizers say the shows will go on.

The same goes for the event over San Diego Bay, where the New Year’s Eve fireworks extravaganza was derailed when the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation filed legal challenges over water quality regulations.

Now, the foundation’s attorney, Marco Gonzalez, says “any entity that wants to move forward for Fourth of July ... should call us.” In an interview last week, he said they plan to move to enforce regulations on water and noise pollution as well as impacts on wildlife, that include environmental monitoring of the events.

“If the cities and private entities will do the required level of enforcement, we’re willing to work with them,” said Gonzalez, a partner in the Encinitas firm Coast Law Group. He said he expects to send a letter to the city about La Jolla’s fireworks — “and anybody else doing fireworks over water” — within a couple of weeks.

Adam Harris, a La Jolla native, spearheaded last year’s drive to save the fireworks when it appeared the July 4th event at La Jolla Cove would be canceled for lack of funds and because restaurateur George Hauer, who had run the event for 24 years, originally backed out.

Harris, with the help of Deborah Marengo, raised enough money to host the event and add a Marine Corps band to the festivities, and Hauer helped with the actual event production as he had in the past.

Now Harris, who has established La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit to handle the fundraising and event, says he’s moving forward with this year’s plans.

“We will do what is needed and get the permits required,” he said Monday, noting that the fundraising campaign will kick off soon. “We will have some fun things ... and plan to make it an all-day affair.”

His words were echoed by Tim Finnell, chief executive officer of the 22nd District Agricultural Association which hosts the San Diego County Fair and its fireworks shows. Finnell said, “We will do what we normally do and go through the agencies that we normally work with.”

Both men declined to comment on the potential controversy.

Another person saying there’s no intention to cancel fireworks was Sandy Purdon. He told the Union-Tribune last week “if Gonzalez wants to sue (the military) charity and stop the Independence Day show, that is his prerogative.”

Meanwhile, Gonzalez said that if fireworks are planned “next to a lagoon, we would want them to monitor nesting and resting birds. ... Over the ocean, we would want perchlorate and metals measured.”

In particular, he said, “La Jolla is as big a problem as anywhere” with its shorebirds, marine mammals and potential for water pollution.

He noted that the area off La Jolla, more than 2 miles from the Scripps Pier to an area south of La Jolla Cove, is in a state-designated “Area of Special Biological Significance.”

These areas are monitored and maintained by the State Water Resources Control Board, which states on its website that they are areas that “support an unusual variety of aquatic life, and often host unique individual species. ASBS are basic building blocks for a sustainable, resilient coastal environment and economy.”

Gonzalez said some of the areas have been designated only in the last few years, but “fireworks of an ASBS are about as inconsistent as could be.”