San Carlos planning commission approves gun store regulations

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San Carlos moved closer Monday to imposing regulations on how and where gun stores and shooting ranges can operate in their city.

The city’s Planning Commission unanimously recommended that City Council approve new regulations that would require such retailers to obtain a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission to operate; prohibit their location to within 1,000 feet from one another, and from sensitive land uses such as homes, schools, parks and commercial recreation like fitness centers; and require prospective stores to obtain a permit from the Sheriff’s Office. The Planning Commission is also recommending clarifying language to allow for only indoor shooting ranges within those restricted areas.

Under existing city rules, retailers selling firearms and ammunition are permitted to locate within any commercial zoning district in San Carlos, including Laurel Street, portions of San Carlos Avenue, El Camino Real, portions of Old County Road and portions of Industrial Road. The proposed 1,000-foot separation restriction would reduce the ability for such businesses to open within 12 parcels in the city, with many in the same stretch of land along Highway 101.

A desire for increased regulation was sparked in 2017 after community opposition mounted over a plan to open at Turner’s Outdoorsman at 1123 Industrial Road. That led to a moratorium as well as extensions to the moratorium on new firearms retailers, with the latest effective through May 12 this year.

Two existing establishments in San Carlos that sell firearms would be grandfathered in, including Imbert and Smithers at 1144 El Camino Real and Equity Arms, a private seller that works by appointment only at 1100 Industrial Road.

City staff aims to have council vote in a first reading on the proposed regulations on March 11, with a second reading possibly on March 25. If council votes in favor on both occasions, the ordinance would take effect April 25.