Fireworks illegal across Central Coast—except where they aren't

Jul 4, 2018

With a heat wave on the horizon, public safety officials along the Central Coast are reminding residents and visitors celebrating Independence Day that all fireworks are completely illegal to use or even possess. Except where they are legal.

For example, in Santa Barbara County, there's a total ban on fireworks, except in Santa Maria and Lompoc where “safe and sane” fireworks can be purchased and used.

“‘Safe and sane’ fireworks are fireworks that are deemed legal in the state of California,” said Sergeant Michael Darlington with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office. “They are not going to launch in the air. They are not going to explode like a firecracker. You light them on the ground, table or some kind of platform and then it shoots out sparks and sparkles. But they don’t fly and they don’t explode.”

“Safe and sane” fireworks have an official seal on them, and can be sold in certain cities.

“For example, in Monterey County, you can buy ‘safe and sane’ fireworks in King City,” Darlington said. “But just outside King City, you can’t. So if you buy fireworks in King City, as long you are in the city jurisdiction and you are lighting them there, you’re fine. But if you live out in the county and you go to your house and you light those fireworks, they are illegal there.”

Basically a good rule of thumb this year: light them in the city where you buy them. This also applies to San Luis Obispo County where safe and sane are only allowed in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, and parts of the unincorporated communities of San Miguel, Oceano and Templeton.

Central Coast public safety officials say they will be out patrolling and actively enforcing possession and use of fireworks over the next couple of days. Penalties could range from $1000 to $2000 dollars with possible jail time. If you’re not certain of the rules in your area, your best bet for a fireworks show might be any one of the permitted, professional ones across the coast. Many of them will be over the water, a safer bet for avoiding wildfires.