Two advisory votes this November will help local officials decide whether fireworks should be banned in Arlington and in unincorporated areas of Snohomish County.
Both the Snohomish County Council and the city of Arlington have recently voted to hold an advisory vote on the question of banning fireworks.
The Arlington City Council unanimously approved the advisory vote on Aug. 5.
“This is in response to the citizens that have expressed concern throughout the years about fireworks,” said Kristin Banfield, communications manager with the city.
She said this is an opportunity for Arlington residents to let their voices be heard on the matter.
“We would like to hear from all of our registered voters about whether or not they would like to ban fireworks in their town,” she said.
Residents typically give their opinions about the fireworks each year to the city, and those complaints typically are about a few different things, said Banfield.
“People are concerned about damage to their property or injury,” she said, and sometimes they are worried about the impact to wildlife and local trees.
“There is a lot of concern for veterans and seniors, many of whom may be suffering from PTSD,” said Banfield.
Finally, many are concerned about pets, who often get scared during the Fourth of July and other fireworks events.
“This is a non-binding advisory vote to hear what the public feels about the idea of banning fireworks,” said Banfield.
“Hopefully they can influence what their local government may eventually decide to do,” she said.
The county vote is also non-binding and simply meant to let the council see how the public feels.
“South County Fire District has been coming for some years asking for a county-wide fireworks ban,” said Snohomish County Council member Sam Low.
This year they came and requested just a ban for their service area, which includes unincorporated areas around Lynnwood and south Everett.
It would take a year for any ban passed to go into effect so the council decided that they “have some time to send it to the voters,” said Low.
By law the advisory vote has to go out to the whole county, however the county council does not have the authority to ban fireworks in cities. Those decisions are left up to the cities themselves.
The County Council may target a ban just in unincorporated areas with high density, said Low, although those decisions have not been made yet.
“I’m not for banning fireworks, but if my constituents want to then I will abide by their wishes,” he said.
“I lost my house on the Fourth of July so this is personal for me, but I’m still for fireworks,” he said.
He also acknowledges that there are unincorporated areas where residents “have some legitimate concerns” about the use of fireworks.
The county’s advisory vote asks if voters want to ban the discharge of fireworks while the city of Arlington’s will ask the voters if they want to ban the discharge, possession and sale of fireworks.