San Jose Increases Fireworks Fines, Will Help Citizens Turn in Offenders - NBC Bay Area
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San Jose Increases Fireworks Fines, Will Help Citizens Turn in Offenders

From July 1 through July 5, residents will be able to post pictures and video of illegal fireworks activity to a city-run website.

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    San Jose will launch a pilot program this summer aimed at cracking down on illegal fireworks. Ian Cull reports. (Published Tuesday, April 12, 2016)

    San Jose will launch a pilot program this summer aimed at cracking down on illegal fireworks.

    From July 1 through July 5, residents will be able to post pictures and video of illegal fireworks activity to a city-run website. The city council approved the program on Tuesday, along with tougher restrictions and fines.

    "We're seeing more and more of it, and more widespread across the city," San Jose Fire Department Chief Curtis Jackson said of illegal fireworks.

    The program also allows non-sworn officials like code enforcement officers to write tickets from those witness accounts.

    City leaders hope it will help the stretched police and fire departments.

    "We're dealing with calls on a priority basis and so staffing wise it's very difficult for us to even make it out to a lot of these calls," San Jose Police Department Capt. Ed Schroder said.

    A first offense would net a $500 fine. A second, $700. A third offense in one year will cost you $1,000 fine.

    South San Jose resident Rita Martinez saw firsthand the dangers of illegal fireworks.

    Last July 4, investigators said illegal fireworks landed on a house across the street from Martinez's home.

    The illegal fireworks sparked a fire and gutted the home.

    "The whole house was just engulfed and at that point there were still fireworks just shooting off [in the neighborhood]," Martinez recalled.

    Martinez also agrees illegal fireworks is a problem in San Jose.

    "Fifty-one years of living here, I've never seen it this bad. Ever," she said.

    Martinez hopes the city leaders' promises will be enough to curb illegal fireworks.

    "If this pilot works, then great. I'm happy," she said. "They did their job. It's just sad come this year and that house is still not fixed."

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