Gun store blocked from setting up shop in San Carlos — for now
Opposition to plan appears to influence decision
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.”