No, you're not going mad: it really is starting to feel like Fourth of July weekend — almost every night across the Bay Area.
Those late-evening Bay Area booms aren't guns going off, nor are they car tires blowing out, one after the other, outside your street-facing window. But what they likely are is an unusual amount of illegal firework activity reported by many Bay Area locals.
10:10 PM, fireworks just went off in San Francisco. https://t.co/bnjPoYlMsQ— Kate Zimmerman (@katealamode) June 21, 2020
As reported by ABC7, cities across the Bay Area, particularly in Oakland, have seen an enormous increase in fireworks going off during the night. Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo — who says his Fruitvale neighborhood roars with pyrotechnics late into the night — has acknowledged the problem.
Gallo says that though it sounds like "bombs going off" in his neighborhood come sundown, there's still a kind of "hands-off" approach to citing violators. "Right now we have this kind of hands-off attitude," said Gallo per the news outlet, before going into how these deafening projectiles are affecting him and his community.
"It's almost like at 9 p.m., it's everybody's time to hang loose and start shooting," Gallo adds. "They shoot up, not only fireworks. There's activity sounds like bombs going off, and they last all throughout until two in the morning."
Similar late-evening scenes in San Francisco and San Jose are growing more common, as well.
Reporting in from San Francisco and one never heard this volume of fireworks and this early in June. It also seems worse during the weekdays— Seana Lyn (@SeanaLyn) June 21, 2020
While San Francisco Police have remained more hushed on the subject, Oakland police conceded that with COVID-19 and everything else happening (like the continued protests), it's simply too hard to find and cite the vast majority of fireworks violators amid already strained resources.
"As we're standing here right now, we're hearing the sounds of fireworks," said Oakland Police Spokesperson Johnna Watson to ABC7. "Right now, we're standing here at our Eastmont Substation. We know all around us we're hearing the sounds of fireworks, firecrackers, M80s."
Was there a summer COVID sale on fireworks in San Jose I didn't know about? They've been popping off every night since Memorial Day. 🎆— Cat Yap (@CatYap) June 21, 2020
Oakland law enforcement also admits that it's hard to track where the fireworks are firing. Case in point: During Watson's conversation with ABC7, he said “do we know exactly where [the sounds of those fireworks] are coming from [...] No."
The San Francisco Fire Department states that unlawfully firing off fireworks within city limits is a crime punishable by a fine or incarceration — or both. Fireworks or other pyrotechnical devices designated "Safe and Sane" used illegally in Oakland can result in a citation between $270 and $350, according to the City's Code of Ordinance.
If you see or hear fireworks being illegally detonated in San Francisco, call SFPD at (415) 553-0123 and report them; you can report illegal firework activity in Oakland by calling (510) 777-8814.
Image: Courtesy of Unsplash via Elisha Terada