Organizers are fighting back after the last-minute cancelation of La Jolla Cove's 4th of July fireworks show, claiming the show was sidelined by unnecessary planning and environmental regulations.
San Diego city officials confirmed Wednesday the event was canceled, setting up a fourth straight year with no show at La Jolla Cove. One reason was a coastal development permit organizers say they didn't know they needed.
"Two days or three days ago, we were informed by the city that we would have to get a coastal development permit to get the park permit," said Jack McGrory with the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation.
The foundation submitted their park permit June 10, according to the city, leaving just a few weeks for coastal development permit processing, which the city said is a 60-day process.
"We were coming out of pandemic, we didn't know if the governor was going to free up everything so we could actually have the event, and so everyone came together in a really short amount of time," Foundation director Deborah Marengo said.
A city spokesperson said Wednesday the city "has made every attempt to find a safe, legally sound path to hold the fireworks display despite the short timeline."
The cancelation came as a relief to members of animal rights groups who argue the loud display near a seal pupping beach would violate the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
"We still don't know a lot, but we know some things and we know there are effects. If the fireworks take place, they could be the equivalent of a jetplane going overheard," said Ellen Shively, a volunteer with the Sierra Club Seal Society.
Last year's celebration was canceled due to the pandemic, and in 2018 and 2019 the big show fell off due to a lack of funding. Organizers say a 2021 show would be a huge draw and help the area economy rebound.
The business community really needs something to rally around, and they did with this event," organizer Brett Murphy said. "There's big camaraderie and people want to spend money and have a good time here. I mean, what a beautiful place to have the 4th of July."
The city said it has proposed alternatives to fireworks in La Jolla, but it's still unclear whether the organizers and the city will come to an agreement in time for the holiday.
"The city is willing to work with the applicants on alternative celebration ideas and today issued a park-use permit for EB Scripps Park," Graham added. "While we know this is frustrating, the city must follow all applicable laws and regulations to safeguard residents and environmentally sensitive lands."
San Diegans still have a host of alternatives for fireworks with friends and family on the 4th of July, however. NBC 7 published a comprehensive guide on local alternatives on Wednesday.