Gun store blocked from set­ting up shop in San Car­los — for now

Op­po­si­tion to plan ap­pears to in­flu­ence de­ci­sion

The Mercury News - - Local News - By Ja­son Green ja­­yare­anews­ Con­tact Ja­son Green at 408-920-5006.

SAN CAR­LOS » In re­sponse to the un­prece­dented pub­lic out­cry, the San Car­los City Coun­cil has put a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia gun dealer’s plans to open a lo­ca­tion in the city on hold.

The coun­cil voted 4-1 this week to adopt an ur­gency or­di­nance im­pos­ing a 45-day mora­to­rium on re­tail es­tab­lish­ments that sell am­mu­ni­tion or firearms. The move ef­fec­tively blocks Turner’s Out­doors­man from open­ing its 22nd store on the 1100 block of In­dus­trial Road — for now.

An avalanche of cor­re­spon­dence — much of it op­posed to the store — ap­peared to drive the de­ci­sion as the clock neared mid­night Mon­day. Coun­cil­man Mark Ol­bert said he had never re­ceived more in­put on a sin­gle topic in his 16 years as an elected of­fi­cial.

“That alone ar­gues strongly that this coun­cil should un­der­take a re­view of our ex­ist­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing firearms stores,” Ol­bert said. “I fully sup­port en­act­ing this mora­to­rium and tak­ing what­ever time we need to thor­oughly con­sider all the is­sues and fac­tors in­volved in defin­ing some good 21stcen­tury reg­u­la­tions cov­er­ing gun stores in our com­mu­nity.” Mayor Bob Gras­silli also backed the tem­po­rary ban.

“This is an is­sue to me of com­mu­nity stan­dards,” Gras­silli said. “That’s just what it boils down to and what kind of stan­dards does the com­mu­nity want. And it’s pretty ev­i­dent to me what kind of stan­dards at this point the com­mu­nity wants. I think we need to take a breath … and put this mora­to­rium into ef­fect and see what can come out of it.”

But to Coun­cil­man Matt Gro­cott, who cast the lone dis­sent­ing vote, it was un­fair to im­pose a mora­to­rium af­ter Turner’s had al­ready signed a lease and in­vested $125,000 in the new lo­ca­tion.

“It’s not fair for this busi­ness to have got­ten as far along as they did with their ap­pli­ca­tion and be­cause a priest from a church finds out about it and then pretty soon we have a firestorm,” Gro­cott said, re­fer­ring to the Rev. Alan Gates, who has helped lead the charge against the gun dealer.

“San Car­los is a wel­com­ing com­mu­nity where pre­judg­ing has no place, where the rule of law ap­plies and is not ma­nip­u­lated in such a man­ner to dis­crim­i­nate,” he said. “Com­monly lit­i­gated le­gal tenets re­quire the city act with fair­ness and equity, yet this con­sid­ered mora­to­rium seems to be at odds with the stan­dard that seems so well rooted in the city.”

Ol­bert ac­knowl­edged that the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion was in­deed un­fair.

“But one of the very first lessons I learned as an elected of­fi­cial all those years ago is none of the im­por­tant de­ci­sions that I’ve ever made on be­half of my com­mu­nity ben­e­fits ev­ery­body,” he said.

An anal­y­sis of zon­ing reg­u­la­tions that cur­rently per­mit gun stores in San Car­los, as well as any pos­si­ble changes, will take longer than 45 days, but the coun­cil has the au­thor­ity to ex­tend the mora­to­rium up to two years if nec­es­sary, said City Man­ager Jeff Malt­bie.

The city has used sim­i­lar mora­to­ri­ums in the past to ad­dress is­sues re­lated to dol­lar stores, res­i­den­tial lot splits, mas­sage par­lors and chain stores, ac­cord­ing to city of­fi­cials.

“I am proof it hap­pens and it changes you for­ever,” said Moulden, her voice crack­ing. “More guns in our town un­ques­tion­ably in­crease the risk of some­thing hap­pen­ing. I am ask­ing you to re­ally think about the im­pli­ca­tions of what an­other gun store means for San Car­los and in ap­prov­ing a mora­to­rium, you will have proper time to do so.”

But much like it did for Gro­cott and Or­tiz, the mat­ter boiled down to a ques­tion of fair­ness for Glenn Ge­lin­eau.

“I kind of feel the city is now try­ing to change the rules af­ter the game has started,” he said. “It’s just fun­da­men­tally not fair. It’s not whether you’re pro-gun or anti-gun.”

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