Opinion

Local cities just say no to lighting up

University Place voters decided in the Nov. 7 election to ban the sale and discharge of fireworks in the city. Pictured are some illegal fireworks confiscated by Tacoma police.
University Place voters decided in the Nov. 7 election to ban the sale and discharge of fireworks in the city. Pictured are some illegal fireworks confiscated by Tacoma police.

On Election Day, residents in two Pierce County cities seized their chance to flex some sovereign muscle by voting to veer away from established state law.

University Place put the kibosh on the sale and use of all fireworks; Bonney Lake said heck no to Washington’s reefer madness by banning marijuana sales. These two ballot items may seem different, but the end result is the same: Don’t light up in our cities.

Over the years, University Place has gained a wee reputation for having inhabitants who believe nothing says, “Happy birthday, America” like noisy pyrotechnics shot into the night sky. (Or the afternoon sky. Or the early-morning sky.)

Bottle rockets and larger fireworks have long been unlawful in UP, just as they are throughout the state with the exception of federally recognized reservation land. But some determined residents, either dizzy with patriotism or pyromania or both, chose to blast away and ignore Washington’s rules allowing only safe-and-sane fireworks.

A decisive majority finally got tired of spending their Independence Day standing on a deck, water hose in hand, waiting for an errant firework to land on a roof or treetop. A proposal to ban the sale, possession and discharge of all consumer fireworks in the city won 61 percent of the vote last week.

The comprehensive ban will certainly make easier work for UP police and firefighters. They’ll no longer have to respond to 911 calls asking them to inspect neighbors’ fireworks. They’re all illegal now.

University Place joins other local governments that have total bans on do-it-yourself fireworks, including Tacoma, Fircrest, Steilacoom and Ruston. The more uniformity that officials bring to the local patchwork of legal and illegal fireworks communities, the better it will be for first responders, and the easier on everyone’s ears. (Do you hear that, Pierce County?)

For the second example of party pooping, let’s pivot to the east side of the county, where the City of Bonney Lake decided to fight peer pressure along with legal marijuana.

To heck with the “everybody’s doing it” ethos. To heck with the additional tax revenue that’s flowing to cities such as neighboring Buckley. Residents of the plateau city made it clear with more than 62 percent of the Nov. 7 vote that they don’t want the sale of funny cigarettes or any other marijuana product within city limits.

This Editorial Board, though it opposed the state’s marijuana legalization initiative five years ago, generally holds that well-regulated, retail marijuana is not the detriment communities once feared. Banning pot may also go against the currents of culture and science. Research conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that where medical marijuana was legal, there were 25 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths.

But Bonney Lake’s “no” vote speaks to civic identity and says a lot about how the city wishes to be perceived. We can’t fault voters for looking out for the youth in their community. Fears of accidental overdoses are legitimate, especially for young children who consume candies and edibles made with psychoactive THC.

As is their right, Bonney Lake prefers to take the-wait-and-see approach with the state’s marijuana experiment. And given the disconnect between state and federal law, it isn’t an unreasonable move.

So three cheers for University Place and Bonney Lake. When it comes to taking control of their own destinies, voters there are lighting the way.

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