SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — After years of trying to crack down on illegal fireworks in the city, San Jose city has come up with a new plan: a website where people can report fireworks scofflaws.
City officials unveiled another city-wide anti-fireworks ad campaign in Vietnamese, Spanish, and English, with the tag line: snap, click, report.
The city’s online fireworks reporting website now allows you – for the first time ever – to upload photos and videos of your neighbors behaving badly.
“With more people reporting and a system that’s improved for reporting, it does have a deterrent effect,” said San Jose Fire Capt. Mitch Matlow. “If we can deter everybody from using fireworks, then we don’t have to worry about enforcing.”
The city’s battle against fireworks has been a work in progress. Last year, San Jose spent $50,000 on a public outreach campaign, reminding citizens that fireworks are illegal. It included the tagline: “Respect neighbors, veterans, and pets” and was supposed to urge wrongdoers to be more considerate.
It did not work. Video of the San Jose foothills during last Fourth of July evening showed a constant stream of illegal fireworks exploding in the air.
In addition, dozens of people said they were wrongfully issued $500 citations. It turned out that the city’s website just took complaints and mailed out citations without further investigation.
So the city dropped the charges and went back to the drawing board.
“We do something. It’s not perfect. We evaluate how to make the system better. We make what we think are improvements,” said Matlow. “If it didn’t work well, how can we fix the problem, how can we improve it. And you just keep going through that process.”
This year, to bust the wannabe pyro technicians, the individuals in the videos must be identifiable in some way.
Also, the more information you have of the perpetrators, like names, addresses, and so on, the better.
“It can be done anonymously but we prefer that they give us their information so that if we need to do follow up questions we can,” said Matlow. “What’s really important, we don’t want them to put themselves at risk by getting those pictures or videos.”
The first fine for illegal fireworks in San Jose will be $500.