arguments to Judge Linda Quinn. “We
showed that, based on federal rules and
regulations, fireworks do not harm water
quality and are even performed in marina
sanctuaries—as long as it’s less than 20
shows per year. And here we only have a
once-a-year fireworks show in an urban area.”
Howard convinced Quinn that CERF
was wrong on the first two points—
water quality and marine life—and the
fireworks display went off as planned.
But Quinn’s decision on the third point
created fireworks of its own.
“[She also ruled that] fireworks, and
every other city activity that requires a
permit—we’re talking 10 to 20,000 events
a year, events that generate millions of
dollars of economic activity and tourism—
every one of those events requires CEQA
review,” Howard says.
“We had everyone from the sponsors
of Earth Day to the gay and lesbian
pride parade to baseball tournament
[organizers]—the broadest and most unique
political coalition—saying this is just wrong.”
Howard is helping the La Jolla Community
Fireworks Foundation appeal that ruling
and will likely argue it this summer. In the
meantime, he also worked with California’s
Regional Water Quality Control Board
to issue a special permit for fireworks.
“Our state water regulators are fairly
knowledgeable about what fireworks do or
do not do to water bodies because of having
Sea World so close,” he says. The general
permit is the first of its kind in the nation.
On its end, the city of San Diego
amended its municipal code to exempt
permitted activities from CEQA review. And
CERF sued again.
“The first and second amendments
were the subject of lawsuits,” says Howard.
“So now we’re up to four. We’ve just been
given notice that CERF is going to sue us
again for this year’s show. So it’s become
somewhat of an annual event—an annual
Like the fireworks themselves, but with
fewer oohs and ahhs.