Nightly fireworks leave San Jose residents pining for quiet

If you've been hearing a lot of illegal fireworks in your neighborhood recently, you're not alone.

Bay Area residents say they are fed up with a seemingly non-stop barrage of illegal fireworks. Some said they were already on-edge because of the pandemic and are now experiencing sleep deprivation because of booms and bangs going off at all times of the day and night.

Home surveillance cameras have captured illegal fireworks displays from San Francisco's Sunset district to downtown San Jose over the past three to four weeks.

"This year, it started in mid-May and it's every single day, every night. Last night at 3:30 a.m. they were going off," said Suzanne Morrone who lives in downtown San Jose.

This year "has been the worst year by far" with fireworks at all hours of the day around downtown San Jose, along with more larger-sounding explosives, according to Jeff Levine, a who's lived in the city for 35 years. 

"It wakes you up when the windows rattle and someone's blowing off a quarter stick a dynamite a few houses away," said Levine. "As an example, the last roughly four to five nights I don't think I've gotten more than an hour uninterrupted sleep."

In 2019, the San Jose Fire Department made two arrests, issued seven online citations, responded to 15 fireworks-related fires and confiscated 300 pounds of illegal fireworks.

This year, the department has not released any figures yet. Fire officials have put up digital billboards and are asking neighbors to report neighbors through a reporting tool online.

"Let them know you will report them. We really need your partnership. We can not be everywhere at once," said Erica Ray, the San Jose Fire Department spokesperson. 

But advocates say the online reporting system is flawed because it requires you to catch someone in the act.

Morrone says the constant explosions affect her husband, a combat veteran who suffers from PTSD, and her dog.  Only police action will make a difference, she said. 

"Without enforcement, it's not working. It's utter failure and I am fed up," said Morrone. "I am absolutely fed up."

A San Jose police spokesman replied the department responds to fireworks calls when staffing is available.

The city was planning to launch a pilot program this year for police to target hot spots on the Fourth of July.

The fire chief in a memo said that was canceled "due to shifting priorities" in the police department and a reduction in SJPD's overtime budget.