Friday, October 17, 2014

CITY OF RANCHO CORDOVA - Fact Sheet Regarding the Siting of the Sacramento Gun Club

Source: City of Rancho Cordova City News

City News

Fact Sheet Regarding the Siting of the Sacramento Gun Club

Posted Date: 10/15/2014

1. The Sacramento Gun Club is an indoor shooting range and firearms related business allowed by right under City, state and federal law. Under the law and the City’s current Zoning Code, no discretionary review of the building permit and business license applications was possible by the City.

2. Once this application was filed with the City, as long as the applicant meets all legal standards for the development, the owners have the right to construct and operate this business. The City has no authority to block its construction and operation or to relocate this business. Only the owner has that opportunity.

3. The indoor gun range is classified as an Indoor Amusement/Entertainment Facility. This use type and the related Indoor Fitness and Sports use cover a broad range of uses that includes climbing gyms, indoor bounce houses and trampolines, indoor party facilities, indoor soccer and basketball venues, go cart racing and many more uses. In recent years the City has had a wide range of activity-oriented uses locate in large format office/light industrial buildings. Under this designation the use must occur entirely within an enclosed building. This use is an allowed-by-right use within the Office Industrial Mixed Use zone, where this site is located.

When the Applicant submitted applications for a business license and building permit, this prompted City Staff to provide an appropriate review which included:

* City staff determination was made that the proposed use is classified as an Indoor Amusement/Entertainment Facility and would be subject to the review and restrictions associated with this use type.

* The property at 3443 Routier is zoned Office Industrial Mixed Use (OIMU) and Indoor Amusement/Entertainment Facility is allowed by right in the OIMU zone. As an allowed use, no City Council review of this project is required or authorized. Public notice is not required.

* Planning Department consulted with internal development team and Police Department regarding regulations applicable to the gun range proposal.

* Following review, business license was issued to Sacramento Gun Club to allow: Gun Control Education, Shooting Range and Retail Sales.

4. Information on State Laws:

* State law requires anyone transporting a firearm to keep it unloaded and in a locked container. This law would apply to individuals arriving and leaving the shooting range.

* California’s Gun Free School Zone Act generally prohibits guns within 1,000 feet of a school. However, the law contains many exceptions, including exceptions for a business on private property when all other laws related to guns are followed. Therefore this private business may locate near a school so long as all gun safety laws are followed - including those regarding transporting firearms in an unloaded fashion and in a locked container.

* California Civil Code section 3482.1 (pertaining to shooting ranges, the ability of a city to regulate the location of sport shooting ranges, and nuisance actions against shooting ranges) does not apply to indoor shooting ranges meeting certain standards.

5. The Gun Club is fully enclosed, and is being built to strict state standards for safety and full containment of any projectiles and all noise produced. The remodel of the long vacant office building is extensive - amounting to a reported investment of over $6 million. The size of facility is 38,698 square feet. The following sound, environmental and other attenuation measures are being addressed:

* The majority of windows and doors of the existing building are framed in and noise dampening treatments are applied.

* Gun ranges are comprised of masonry block walls (filled with concrete) that extend to within 18 inches of building roof. This is a sort of building within a building for safety purposes.

* Within each gun lane sound dampening material will be placed on the walls and over head

* The top of each gun lane contains noise dampening material sandwiched between a double layer of sheetrock.

* The roof of the building received 4 inch layers of sound dampening acoustical foam on the inside and outside surfaces of the roof.

* A sophisticated HEPA air filter system will protect both customers of the facility and neighbors on nearby properties from hazards associated with gun smoke.

* The facility will include a system that captures all bullets. This system contains hazards associated with lead and allows the metals of the bullets to be recycled.

* Applicants anticipate that low level noise from gun fire will be audible inside the sales/lobby portion of the Gun Club and that no audible noise of gun fire will occur outside of the building.

6. To further delineate the Gun Club from adjacent uses and tenants the landscape plan includes the following:

* The Gun Club will install a solid wood perimeter fence on its southern property line that will face George Washington Carver High School.

* Landscape plantings inside the wooden fence will further screen the building.

* A berm along the Routier frontage will be lowered to enhance site visibility and security, with existing trees being removed and replaced.

7. Access to the Club will included Members and the general public. Visitors will adhere to the same rules and regulations as Gun Club members. Employees of the Gun Club will be trained and expected to follow all applicable laws, rules and regulations. All gun sales will be subject to laws regarding waiting periods and background checks. Many of the club members are expected to be current and retired law enforcement professionals who will use the club facilities to maintain their firearm skills. The Gun Club owners have informed the City that nonmembers who attempt to use the facility will be “vetted” by staff and may not always be permitted to use the facility on the same day.

8. In reviewing land uses within the City, and in neighboring jurisdictions, we have identified several cases of firearm related businesses in close proximity to schools, daycare facilities, senior care and assisted living facilities, coffee shops and recreation facilities. To date, the City has no recorded incidents at any of these sites to suggest a negative impact of firearms related businesses on these nearby uses.

9. The Public has stated that the City Planning Department should have given the school and community an early warning. The City did follow all appropriate noticing procedures as required by local and state laws. However, this project has caused the City to assess its project review practices and to establish procedures for additional review and outreach for uses that, while allowed by right, might generate concerns from the City Council or neighbors to a project.

10. A moratorium in this case would very likely create significant legal risk for the City, given the various state laws regulating the planning and mitigation of gun ranges as well as the California Gun Free School Zone Act, which makes it clear that this type of business may locate near a school so long as gun safety laws are followed. When the state Legislature has passed laws regarding a subject matter, the City's ability to legislate is more limited. The Legislature has passed several laws on gun safety, the transportation of guns, and guns near schools. The City would have a very difficult time defending the required findings for the moratorium -- that this business creates an immediate threat to the public health, safety, and welfare-- given the extensive state laws in existence on this subject. Additionally, the business owner made a substantial investment into this property after receiving a building permit and business license from the City. This also creates significant liability exposure for the City if it were to enact a moratorium on this use.

11. The Gun Club, at its discretion, may wish to offer to adults and children gun safety courses and invite teachers and interested staff and parents to tour the club. The property/facility owner is able to make this decision and the City cannot impose rules and/or requirements that require such to occur. As a good neighbor the City encourages both parties to educate each other on the issues at hand.

12. The Gun Club will be offering the sale of firearms to the general public. The same requirements for firearm sales will apply to the Gun Club as those which are in place under state and federal law for other retailers, such as Big 5 Sporting Goods, the Sportsman’s Warehouse, and other retail establishments which sell firearms to the general public. These include laws related to waiting periods and background checks.

13. The theft of firearms from unattended vehicles can occur regardless of location. Due to the fact that firearms have monetary value it is important that anyone who chooses to transport a firearm in a personal vehicle ensure that it is stored unloaded and in a locked container. Gun club visitors and members are required to follow state laws regarding transporting firearms in a locked container and making sure they are unloaded.

14. In reviewing crime stats within the County, the Sheriff's Department and the City find no evidence of increase in crime in conjunction with any firearms related businesses in Sacramento County.

15. School shootings are horrific, should never occur and should be prevented whenever possible, but there is no evidence that the City is aware of correlating such horrific acts of violence with firearms facilities, such as the one being constructed. The gun range will be a highly regulated and monitored facility, including on site security and extensive video surveillance. All guns outside of the facility must be stored unloaded and in locked cases. It would be much more difficult for a student to gain access to a gun at this facility than through the more typical route of securing a gun from either a friend or a family member.

16. While teachers, parents and students have expressed concern over this facility, the City has also received numerous comments in support of the gun range. Typical reasons for support focus on having a controlled environment for the practice of handling of guns and the offering of gun safety education.

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