Menlo Park fireworks show sparks dispute

Neighbor appeals permit for July Fourth show, upsetting Sharon Heights residents and country club members

For five years, Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club in Menlo Park has put on a July Fourth fireworks show for its members, giving residents of the nearby Sharon Heights neighborhood front row seats to the only fireworks show held within city limits.

Now, one resident is trying to keep this year's fireworks show from happening, and a lot of country club members and neighbors aren't too happy about that.

Melanie Austin, who lives near Alameda de las Pulgas, approximately one mile from where the fireworks are launched, is appealing a decision by city staff to grant a "special events permit" to the country club to put on its fireworks show. The permit is required because fireworks violate the city's noise ordinance.

The appeal has sparked a flood of more than 60 letters to the Planning Commission, urging commissioners to allow the country club to put on its annual show.

"This is a great tradition," said Sand Hill Circle neighbor Randy Lieber. "If one person wants to speak out, that's her right … but I've never heard of anyone else objecting."

The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider Ms. Austin's appeal at its meeting on Monday, June 16, which starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the Civic Center, between Laurel and Alma streets.

The meeting is after The Almanac's Monday press deadline, so check for a news update.

The appeal

In her appeal, Ms. Austin says the city should pull the permit because:

• The 20-minute show, scheduled to start at 9:15 p.m., causes "extreme noise" that affects nearby residents and dogs.

• The fireworks show creates a potential fire hazard, and requires a "frivolous" use of fire district resources.

"I think it's kind of irresponsible, especially considering the fire situation in the Bay Area right now, for a fire truck to be devoted to monitor an event for a private club," Ms. Austin told The Almanac. "I have the right to protest, and I'm protesting."

The country club is located at 2900 Sand Hill Road near Interstate 280. A licensed pyrotechnician operates the fireworks, according to a report by Deanna Chow, a senior planner with the city.

The city's planning staff, which granted the permit, is recommending the Planning Commission deny Ms. Austin's appeal. The country club "has worked diligently" to create safe conditions for the show, Ms. Chow said.

The country club reimburses the Menlo Park Fire Protection District for inspection and supervision costs, and although the fireworks are loud, the event occurs just once a year, Ms. Chow said.

Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club staff did not return The Almanac's calls.


Like this comment
Posted by Smiles
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Greetings from a northern neighbor who grew up near Sharon Heights. We just had our 100th in Burlingame with a beautiful display that was enjoyed by MANY families, friends and surrounding communities. However, we too received the FEW complaints. This was a 100th celebration, and the 4th of July is only a yearly celebration that families look forward to enjoying together. I say Let the the celebration begin, enjoy, and light a few extra for Ms. Austin, she is out numbered, don't give in Menlo Park, be proud to celebrate your country with pride and joy!!

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