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KAREN OCONNELL, San Clemente

Recently, I came face to face with the increasingly disturbing fire risks that exist when a Forster Highlands neighbor, once again, set off fireworks.

Fireworks in my neighborhood have always deeply worried me because of the fire risk and the noise disturbance, but seeing them visually recorded on my security camera, spreading wide and over 50 feet in the air above the large two-story home that sits next to open space hillside made a deep, lasting impression on me. 

Policing this issue has not been effective enough—the Sheriff’s Department told me when I reported fireworks over the past three years that they must catch them in the act and that’s hard for them to do. 

The use of fireworks is increasing. Firestorms are a real threat—do you remember the amount of fires last year?

Research shows where neighbors get to know neighbors, where people work together to keep their neighborhoods safe, life becomes easier, more enjoyable and safer for the community. 

I am inviting you to brainstorm solutions with me. 

My goal is to improve the compliance on illegal fireworks through making genuine, neighbor-to-neighbor friendly, reasonable communication.

One possible option to consider is a neighborhood watch program through the city within the Crime Prevention department. I contacted Lisa LeBron, who heads this department. She advised me on ways neighbors can organize.

Many residents also have HOAs. I am going to my HOA board meeting to ask for their support in helping me find others who want to join me in problem-solving the illegal use of fireworks to create a safer community. 

 I by no means have all the answers here.

 But as I begin to imagine what is possible, I know if others are willing to join me in brainstorming options, we can make an important difference. Do you have helpful ideas? Are you interested? karenoconnell@mac.com.

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