LA's first fireworks buyback program receives over a quarter-ton of fireworks

Los Angeles Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who spearheaded a fireworks buyback program modeled after the city's gun buyback program, announced Thursday that the first buyback event resulted in more than a quarter-ton of fireworks being removed from the streets.

"Thanks to community members who voluntarily participated in this pilot buyback effort we netted over a quarter-ton of illegal fireworks,'' Rodriguez said. "This program tested a new tool in our citywide effort to combat the use of illegal fireworks. It's inaugural success shows promise for a
larger citywide effort that can return peace to our neighborhoods and enhance public safety for residents.''

People were able to anonymously surrender their fireworks on Wednesday at the Brand Park parking lot, at 15121 Brand Blvd. in Mission Hills.

Through sponsorships, the city compensated participants with Dodgers tickets, passes for Universal Studios and gift cards to Starbucks, Walmart and Target. 

Moore told the city's police commission Tuesday that with most major fireworks shows canceled last year due to COVID-19, the agency saw a 72% increase in calls for illegal fireworks, reaching about 6,000.

RELATED: 17 injured in police detonation of illegal fireworks in South LA

"Each of those calls for service represented individuals that allegedly were in possession and using fireworks which are entirely completely illegal in the city of Los Angeles. Our men and women have seized more than four tons of firework material during that period of time,'' he said.

The pilot fireworks buyback program focused on the San Fernando Valley, as 45% of last year's service calls were for that area, Moore said.

"The residents of the Northeast San Fernando Valley have endured multiple wildfires in recent years, resulting in mass evacuations. The use of illegal fireworks poses a real threat of another major fire in our communities,'' Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said.

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"I thank members of our community for their collaboration and support to develop a creative solution to curb the use of illegal fireworks beyond enforcement efforts alone.''

On May 5, the City Council approved Rodriguez's motion to pursue new strategies to curtail illegal fireworks, including a buyback program and reward program for people who report major suppliers of fireworks. Along with scaring pets and creating fire risk, the use of legal and illegal fireworks in Southern California last July created the worst air quality in the region in a decade, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Moore said the department is also targeting retailers and manufacturers who are selling fireworks online. On June 22, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office's Consumer Protection Unit sent cease-and-desist letters to major online platforms that were hosting fireworks advertisements in Los Angeles.

The platforms -- which included Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp and 5Miles -- agreed to remove the advertisements targeting customers in L.A., Feuer's office said. The letters informed the corporations that the platforms hosted fireworks-for-sale offers in L.A., in violation of municipal
and state law.