West Sac looks at tightening zoning rules for gun shops

NEWS-LEDGER — JULY 9, 2014 —


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s planning commission on June 19 approved a tightening of the permitted locations for gun shops in the city. But those restrictions were made with the approval of a couple of gun-related local business owners.

As David Tilley, the city’s principal planner, told the commission members:

“We are proposing that they become a ‘conditional use’ in our business park, limited industrial, light industrial and heavy industrial zones, and that we take them out of our community commercial, central business district, waterfront and mixed-use zones.”

(Comments here are taken from the City of West Sacramento’s video of the meeting.)

As a “conditional use” in any of these zones, gun and ammo sales would need city approval on a case-by-case basis.

Lieutenant David Delaini of the West Sacramento Police Department expressed his support for the changes.

One of two people in the local firearms trade to speak at the public hearing was Brent Dawson, who described himself as a disabled veteran and business owner of American Tactical Outfitters. That business was formerly on Northport Drive in an industrial part of West Sacramento.

Dawson said he had used to operate under the rules of a firearms “broker” –  with with no gun inventory on hand. He’s now seeking a larger location that would, in part, sell guns it kept in stock. Dawson said the new zoning seems to give him enough real estate options to find such a location.

State and federal governments already “regulate all aspects” of firearm sales, said Dawson, before voicing his support for the new zoning rules.

Dawson raised concerns that another West Sacramento business – Aim U Nation, in an industrial part of Southport – may not be in compliance with city rules. As a stand-alone retail shop that sells guns, ammo and other things, the business may not qualify as one that sells firearms only as an “accessory use” as listed.

Ken Garrett, an owner of Aim U Nation and the separate All Phase Security business, was on hand at the meeting. He said that he, too, supported the proposed zoning changes. He told the commission that his business “may not be in compliance,” but “we’re willing to take steps now.”

Planner David Tilley said the new zoning rules may clarify things and “provide a path” for Aim U Nation to solve any local licensing trouble.

Several planning commission members had comments on the issue before they voted.

Commissioner Russ Leibig gave an “aside” about Aim U Nation:

“I have a hard time seeing (firearms) as an accessory use today,” he said. “Especially with the ad that’s in even our local paper today, the primary use seems to be firearms sales, ammunition sales, and then training. . . Moving forward, maybe we can get them into this permitting process and in compliance.”

Commission member Jeremy Olsen wondered if the zoning was too strict – never allowing firearms sales as an automatically “permitted” use, and always requiring city approval of a “conditional use” permit:

“There’s no zoning designation here where it’s not ‘conditional,’” said Olsen. “If a Cabela’s or large retailer was looking to site a retail location in our town, I’m afraid they would look at it and get the wrong idea.”

Colleague Charlie Moore talked about Aim U Nation’s possible need to get into city compliance, saying “I’m just trying to make sure we’re not putting somebody out of business.”

Tilley assured Olsen that only the gun-related portion of a Cabala’s store would need a conditional use permit, and told Moore staff was communicating with Aim U Nation and trying to help that business work within the rules.

The commission approved the proposed zoning changes, and the matter will now head to the city council.

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