San Jose Faces Scrutiny for Illegal Fireworks Citations

By the Numbers: $500

San Jose is taking heat over its crackdown on illegal fireworks. According to a handful of Blossom Hill residents, the city slapped them with $500 citations with no proof that they did anything wrong. The fines stem from the city’s online reporting system, which allows anyone to complain and apparently requires little in the way of evidence. The new reporting system was launched in May, according to city spokeswoman Cheryl Wessling. By mid-July, the system, run by the San Jose Fire Department, had generated 1,076 complaints that resulted in 161 warning letters and 45 citations. City officials declined to state how many were based on hearsay, however, and residents who want to contest their citation will have to pay up before they can file an appeal. City attorney Rick Doyle said the complaints require a thorough review. “There is a due process issue here,” he said, “and that’s a legitimate concern. You need video proof, witnesses or some evidence to cite people. I’m unclear about the sufficiency of the evidence that they had.” The City Council will revisit its fireworks enforcement policy when it meets next week.


  1. Unprecedented that we see city attorney Doyle raising concerns about a department’s behavior on separate issues within two months. SJFD was found guilty of retaliation and promotion discrimination over a ten year period against a female employee in June. Cost to taxpayers (so far) $800,000 and likely to rise.

    Now we have a clearcut violation of the 14th Amendment – and both occurred on 23-year employee Chief Curtis Jacobson’s watch. Johnson was appointed without a competitive search. Both incidents clearly reflect leadership deficiencies.

    SJFD management turnover has resembled the Trump White House. Perhaps it’s time to find someone less inbred and find a replacement adept at rooting out internal rot.

  2. Pay the fine and then go to court, What country are we in Cuba or North Korea?
    SJFD must think they have the power of the IRS the only other agency that can get away with that.
    This seems to Violate the 4th, 5th possible the 6th, and definitely the 7th, amendment.

    Wish I was the attorney that’s going to get rich suing the hell out of San Jose Taxpayers!

  3. San Jose Liberals:> No more fireworks! It scares pets and gives soldiers PTSD
    San Jose Normals:> Uhh 4 of my neighbors are vets. I have WWII, Korean, Vietnam, and a desert storm vet. They’re setting off the fireworks. My dog is either stupid or brave, she loves them.
    San Jose Liberals:> Well think about the CHILDREN! CHILDREN GET BURNED!
    San Jose Normals:> My sister never got burned by them, she did get burned as a kid from a scalding pot of water on the stove. Should we ban stoves? Boiling water?
    San Jose Liberals:> Well fireworks are EXPLOSIVE!
    San Jose Normals:> So is Gasoline, but we have no problems issuing licenses to people that can barely drive, to go 60+ MPH down the freeway with 15 gallons of explosion behind them.
    San Jose Normals:> Uhh according to wikipedia, Gasoline carries more energy than gunpowder.
    San Jose Normals:> Wouldn’t we all be dead if there wasn’t o2 everywhere?

    Anyways, these are the arguments I get into. Fireworks ban on the safe and sane variety makes zero sense. We could be raising money for our charities, we could be raising a bit of tax revenue for the city, but instead we just want to have a feel good “THINK OF THE FEELINGS” argument by people that are not pets, are not vets, just old crotchety house fraulines who think their opinions should carry more weight than everybody else in San Jose.

    • What’s more dangerous? A sparkler or a bottle rocket, or a liberal with a seat on the city council or in the legislature.

      Robert: I still think you should change your name to Not-Dave.

      • > Robert: I still think you should change your name to Not-Dave.

        I happen to like my first name. Can I change the middle so I can be “Robert Not-Dave Cortese”?

        Oh to answer your first question, I choose door #3. I don’t claim to be liberal or conservative, but the ones crying to keep fireworks banned are definitely left leaning. I’m just all about doing things that don’t burden the taxpayers with costs to enforce a law nobody wants to enforce.

    • RMC, Please note that SJ spent (squandered?) at least $50,000 in a failed effort to curtail fireworks. See Did anyone ask if the approach works elsewhere? Nope – never let facts or prudent stewardship interfere with political theater.

      Better idea: designate an area for the public to ignite fireworks. Much cheaper than building a bandshell in St. James park and more effective in reducing its homeless population.

      • > RMC, Please note that SJ spent (squandered?) at least $50,000 in a failed effort to curtail fireworks.

        Oh c’mon TAXPAYER we both know that was a political handout. Some politician had an inlaw that learned how to use photoshop and needed a job, because having a beard, thick rimmed glasses, piercings, and a tattoo across their face that says “DANK” is keeping them from getting a full time gig.

        Totally agree on the “Firing Zones”.

        Interesting side note though, council did ask. I gave Rocha my endorsement when I lost to him in 2010 on the condition that he would seek to lift the safe and sane fireworks ban. To his credit, he actually had the issue re-visited by council. I think a total of 3 members were for, the rest were against. They did a study, had TNT fireworks show similar cities in California, and what their revenue was. It was kind of amazing because the numbers I came up with years ago were pretty spot on.

        I plan on being at next weeks meeting to comment on this. It’s just silly at this point… The people have spoken with a big, booming, fiery, colorful, “We want fireworks”. Any opposition is a minority who is failing to acknowledge this, but they’re a loud minority with a solid vote record.

    • “Should we ban stoves, boiling water?” How about we ban the liberal morons who propose all this nonsense instead of fixing our streets? Los Gatos tore up and replaced Blossom Hill Road from Cherry Blossom to LG Blvd. recently, all the way down to the base rock. That section of Blossom Hill Road before they tore it up was in better shape than 95% of San Jose streets.

      • Correctomundo, compadre. My fillings are coming loose due to our pot-holed streets, but they waste time hand-wringing over the use of sparklers on one day of the year.

        I suspect the real reason for the total ban is that July Fourth is just too pro-American for a majority of the City Council, and anything that reduces our 4th of July happiness, excitement and patriotism is A-OK with that lot.

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