Barger issues statement on decision to cancel fireworks

Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County 5th District supervisor, and Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean discuss Metro transit and other topics at the City Council special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal
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Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Tuesday the decision to cancel fireworks displays countywide, without allowing cities to show how their Fourth of July plans could be conducted safely, was “disappointing.” 

“I understand that multiple cities, including those in my district, planned for and allocated resources toward fireworks displays that adhered to strict physical distancing protocols,” Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said in a prepared statement. “It is disappointing that these decisions were made at the last minute without providing cities the opportunity to present their safety plans or give input.”

Her comment comes after county Department of Public Health officials announced Monday a modified health order to close county beaches and prohibit all fireworks shows through Independence Day weekend to prevent crowds from gathering and increasing community spread of COVID-19. 

“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a Monday statement. 

Santa Clarita officials issued a news release Wednesday in response to the county’s prohibition of pyrotechnic shows, saying it was a “last-minute” decision without consulting the city regarding its annual Spirit of America Fireworks display. 

“We were disappointed the decision to prohibit all shows was made without taking our safety protocols to restrict gatherings into consideration,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said in a statement. 

The city’s annual show typically gathers thousands of spectators at the Westfield Valencia Town Center. City officials had planned to close the mall parking lots and its perimeter, and livestream the show to prevent people from gathering. 

The county’s fireworks ban is accompanied by new orders issued Wednesday by the state and followed by the county to temporarily halt indoor operations at some businesses, such as indoor restaurant dining.

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