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Illegal Fireworks Light Up Alviso Skies Despite Threat Of Steep Fines

ALVISO (CBS SF) -- Despite steeper fines and a new ordinance that allows police to cite homeowners and tenants for allowing the use of fireworks on their properties, the night sky of San Jose lit up with Fourth of July explosives Sunday.

"It's definitely a time for gathering for families, especially with COVID, we haven't been able to gather very much so now we're just trying to celebrate," said Eric Capella. "This is been something that they've had here for a long time."

In Alviso, where Independence Day means barbecuing with family and friends, block parties and lighting off an exorbitant amount of fireworks, many residents said the new ordinance would not stop them from breaking that tradition.

"I feel that San Jose should put a stop to that, because that's once a year thing that we get to enjoy, I mean I love fireworks," said Joann Capella, who has come to Alviso to celebrate the Fourth of July for decades.

"I think it's safe, this is the first time in a long time since I've been here, and yeah, compared to before, before was a little more uncontrolled. But now it's a lot more controlled."

Last year the San Jose Fire Department responded to an unprecedented 6,000 plus online fireworks complaints. They also said there were more than 30 fireworks-related fires last holiday.

Residents can report violators online by snapping a picture or recording a video.

This year, San Jose City Council members took it one step further and passed the social host ordinance that goes after property owners or renters for allowing the use of fireworks on their properties, even if they're not physically lighting off the explosives. Fines can rack up to thousands of dollars.

Fines are also steeper to the tune of up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.

The fire department has urged those to think twice about the use of fireworks as California experiences a drought, and vegetation has been much drier than normal.

"So the cops came by and they said that they're going to start giving out tickets even if you're around it or even if you're in front of someone's house they're going to give you a ticket," Capella said.

He added that it appeared police were not turning a blind eye this year as in previous years.

But many said the Fourth of July, especially in Alviso, is a tradition that is here to stay despite the warnings and new law.'

"As long as it's safe and we're doing it safe, I think there shouldn't be a problem with it," said Rebecca Nuño.
"The kids get so excited," Joann said. "And that's a memory."

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