Los Gatos Town Council to Consider Future Gun Sales Moratorium

Council also authorizes staff to consider a voluntary operating agreement with Templar Sports in response to community concerns about new business.

A temporary emergency moratorium on future gun sales in town will be brought back to the Los Gatos Town Council for consideration at its March 4 meeting.

By a unanimous vote, the Council Monday evening also asked staff to research through the end of this year a potential ordinance and policy changes to:

  • Designate which land-use zones may be appropriate for sale of firearms and ammunition;
  • Require a conditional-use permit for the sale of firearms and ammunition;
  • Restrict home occupation permits for sale of firearms and ammunition;
  • Establish a police permit requirement for dealers of firearms and ammunition;
  • Require identification checks for the sale of ammunition; and /or
  • Require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms

The moratorium, if approved, would be similar to that adopted by the Council related to medical marijuana dispensaries, said Los Gatos Town Attorney Judith Propp.

The prohibition would be in effect to allow staff to study land-use controls based on documented health, safety and welfare concerns, Propp said.

The moratorium would only apply to any new firearm retailers that would seek to do business in Los Gatos.

Vice Mayor Steven Leonardis expressed concern about the issuance of gun retailer Templar Sports' business license Aug. 29, 2012 prior to the shop receiving its federal firearms permit.

The business opened last December at 611 University Ave. It's been met with what has seemed as equal support and opposition to gun sales from area residents.

Leonardis said the law stated such a license can't be granted prior to the business receiving its federal firearms license and other documents.

"Just wondering in what jurisdiction did we act to issue that license?" he asked.

Propp said town staff followed the law for a business tax, or business license, sticking to the ministerial process established by town code. Templar Sports filled out the necessary paperwork and paid the tax to the town. Once that happened, the town had the obligation to issue the license, she said.

The Council also authorized staff to consider a voluntary operating agreement with Templar Sports in response to community concerns about the new business.

The moratorium, which would require a four-fifths vote, would be vetted in a public hearing. Once approved, the prohibition would go into effect immediately. The town has 45 days during which staff could bring back additional information to the Council. At the most, the moratorium could be in place for two years, Propp said.

The Council's vote came after more than one hour of additional testimony about the issue of gun sales from Los Gatos and Bay Area residents. On Feb. 4, more than 120 people had signed speaker cards to address the legislative body to speak about the controversial issue.

Monday's meeting was a continuation of last Feb. 4 meeting, which had Templar Sports owner Robert Chang speaking about the issue. Following that meeting, he reported to San Jose Police that he had received a death threat.

Extra police officers were assigned to Monday evening's meeting as a precaution due to the threat against Chang and due to the highly charged nature of the discussion about gun sales in Los Gatos.

Armed officers controlled the large crowd, which once again spilled into the Council Chamber's lobby and adjacent old library. As they did last Monday, supporters held orange signs that read "We support Templar Sports," and opponents held green signs that read, "Accountability & Transparency."

Los Gatos Mayor Barbara Spector called to the podium more than 10 residents who had signed up to speak last week, but they weren't present during the meeting last night.

Los Gatos resident Sue Farwell said she had never felt town staff, Planning Commission or Council had acted with disingenuous intentions and noted that it wasn't up to the staff or the Council to arbitrarily demand a public hearing for a permitted use, "even if this is polarizing and controversial."

"I take offense that there's been accusations against the planning staff and the chief of police by members of our community," she said.

Richard Martinez, of Santa Cruz, said he had come to the meeting to support Chang and the gun store. "I don't think they [Templar Sports] intend to hurt anybody in Los Gatos."

Edmundo Alire, of Livermore, reminded the public that the gun store's opening was not related to recent gun violence in the country and that horrific events such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut are perpetrated by those afflicted with mental illness and other societal ills such as broken homes.

C. Jeffrey Stanley, owner of Bad Boys Bail Bonds in San Jose, said he and Templar Sports had Constitutional rights to operate. "Templar Sports allows access to a right. Taking away rights or restricting any of our rights will adversely affect us as a free society," he said.

Los Gatos resident Patricia Ernstrom called the issue of gun sales emotional and divisive. "This isn't about the Second Amendment. This isn't about the right to bear arms. No one is saying that the people of Los Gatos do not have the right to gun ownership if they so choose. The issue is whether or not this is the right type of business that belongs in Los Gatos."

Unfortunately, she said, the lack of process showed a complete disregard to  citizens for and against gun sales. "If someone is filling out a business license application to sell sporting goods, when in fact they're not, that should be grounds for review," Ernstrom said. "Sporting goods, but no bats, no balls, no skis, no socks, no helmets, no rackets, no clubs and no shoes. Sporting goods, but not a single item to buy for any sports program offered at any school or recreational activity that the town offers."

—See video of Templar Sports' attorney reacting to Council's vote Monday night by clicking here.

—For comprehensive coverage of Los Gatos gun retailer Templar Sports' opening in town, please see our topic page by clicking here.

Jess B. Guy February 13, 2013 at 12:59 AM
Sheila, I'll contact you via e-mail. Let's try and make it happen.
Tia February 13, 2013 at 01:08 AM
I agree with you AR and Michael Silva , The Town council is showing a lot of grace under pressure and should continue to do so. Having to take on the task of a city/ county council which I’m sure they did not have in mind when they signed up.
Markene Smith February 13, 2013 at 01:14 AM
"Responsible gun owners" who spoke at the Town Council meetings appeared to fetishize firearms—at the expense of residents who actually live in Los Gatos. The very term "responsible gun owner" proves to be an oxymoron when—God forbid— an individual's legally purchased guns are stolen, he is shot with his own weapon, a friend or family member goes berserk, a toddler pulls the trigger, a teenager and his friends find the key to the gun closet, a family member is mistaken for a burglar as he creeps into the house late at night, the "normal guy" loses his job and decides to take revenge on remaining colleagues, his spouse's divorce lawyer negotiates a seemingly unjust settlement, he attempts to settle a neighbor dispute "once and for all," a child takes the guns for protection, or to eliminate bullies... or like "responsible gun owner" Dick Cheney, he mistakes his hunting buddy for quail.
Tia February 13, 2013 at 01:51 AM
As suspect it is worrisome how it stands and came to be. It is Scary that with all these code complications, employee oversight, the possibility that Los Gatos which tries to control what it suspects as improper advertising could end up with a possible light gun manufacturing unit in its backyard ( not just controlled small retail) if the residents did not make such a hue and cry about it. The current owners may not do it now but with passage of time and complications of oversight like in this case itself, who is to say what would/ could happen. We chose and I know a lot of people who like to visit Los Gatos as it has been able to maintain a unique identity/look than other towns. Looks like residents again felt intimidated by an overwhelming number of out –of- towners.
Roberta February 13, 2013 at 03:39 AM
Markene this is an over-reaction which is typical for many. Shame on you for demonizing honest people who own firearms ( and store and transport them responsibly) when so many MORE frequent tragedies occur from those who drive/drink/text/ use cell phones/allow kids to watch violent video games/ keep unsocialized dogs irresponsibly.
Roberta February 13, 2013 at 03:48 AM
Jess and Sheila: thx for publicly showing willingness to discuss/learn what is real about the core issue ( we all know if a gelato shop or clothing store had opened on University Ave this controversy likely would not be happening ) Hoping others will follow the lead and learn rather than spout fearful ignorance or rabid espousement. Sane people are not to be feared.
Bob Rosenthal February 13, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Except for a period of about 15 years I have lived in Los Gatos. I graduated from University Ave school (now Old Town), in 1953. Graduated from Los Gatos High School , 1957. I had a BB gun when I was 10, a .22 single shot rifle when I was 12. Never had a problem. Went into the Army Reserves when I was 17. Trained on the M1 Garand. Bought my first Ruger .22 single action revolver in 1960. From the Wildcat Sport Shop, 133 N. Santa Cruz Ave. Never a problem in town. The Wildcat Sport Shop moved to 111 E. Main Street where summit Bicycles is now located and was called Kerricks Wildcat Sport Shop (this can be verified by anyone taking the time to visit the library, as I did).about a block from the High School. Again, no problems. So what has changed?
Bob Rosenthal February 13, 2013 at 04:07 AM
Well said. Maybe we should request proof of residence and allow only Los Gatos residences entry to the businesses in Los Gatos. Show "outsiders" just how elitist Los Gatos is. Shucks, build a wall around the town and become a completely Isolationist community.
Phillip Salfen February 13, 2013 at 05:34 AM
Sandy, Why does anyone, from outside Los Gatos, even go there? What shops does LG have that other communities don't? Why would someone, from outside LG, go there and pay inflated prices for the same item they could get "outside" of Los Gatos, for less $?
Phillip Salfen February 13, 2013 at 05:46 AM
Oh. And the President pulled the "child safety" card out in tonights SOTU speech. It's pathetic how ANY politician uses a tragedy, such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, to sway the emotionally unstable for political gain. But then they all do it, and have all done it.
Tia February 13, 2013 at 06:22 AM
Markene very well describe the dangers of a gun (whose sole purpose is for mortal harm) in civil life. Protecting your house can be done with utility items like knife and sticks etc. too. Death due to other activities like driving etc cannot be equated to guns which have no secondary usage in civil life besides hunting and sports. Guns if well stored will as it is not come handy in case of an emergency. GUNS just as other sources, traditionally considered vices like drugs and alcohol HAVE NEVER BEEN STOPPED AND NEVER WILL BE STOPPED. THEY ENJOY MORE ACCEPTANCE TODAY THAN THEY HAVE FOR A LONG TIME IN MODERN CIVILIZED SOCIETY. Speaking of armed revolutions if a society decides it will achieve it any way possible. An individual not matter how well trained in the art of war cannot bring about a revolution alone. Why are we as a society becoming more fearful, less courageous? What happened to good old fist fight to settle issues, difference of opinion? They felt scary enough. We should come together for a sensible acceptable level for civil society. Those who live out in the wilderness have more reasonable cause for weapons than for city dweller who can have some fire power if they so choose.
Doug Hamilton February 13, 2013 at 06:53 AM
Hey Sheila, according to your version of what Patricia Ernstrom said (and I quote from what you wrote above "this isn't about the right to bare arms"). Does this mean I can't wear short sleeve shirts! This sucks!!! I need to tell this to Michelle Obama.
Media Monitor February 13, 2013 at 08:24 AM
AR - when you say established legal precedent, are you referring to "separate but equal"? What makes this a 'simple' municipal zoning issue? Templar Sports has opened for business in a location designated for it's type of business, a sporting goods retail store with on-site repair. What is the zoning issue?
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Smile ... thanks for catching that! It's bear arms! What I had originally, which I changed back, given the lateness of the hour ... thanks for being my copy editor! Need all the extra set of eyes out there to keep my copy clean. thank you.
Mckenna Smith February 13, 2013 at 02:58 PM
put this to a vote of the people!
Markene Smith February 14, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Yes, we should be able to vote on this issue! The California Business Code allows towns to prohibit sales of liquor—those municipalities choose to be "dry." Given the number of popular bars and restaurants in LG that serve alcohol, wouldn't it be reasonable to protect public health and safety—to prohibit retail gun sales within town limits?
Scott Savage February 14, 2013 at 03:32 AM
I had the opportunity to attend the first meeting and I thought that the presentation by staff and by the Town Manager were to be commended. While there's no question that this is a polarizing issue, the staff report was objective, impartial, and informative as to the state of policy and the law. They provided a detailed report of the planning process in place at the time, the actions taken by staff and by the store, and a comprehensive overview of options available. I have had the opportunity to go into Templar, see the operation first hand, speak with the owners and, as a resident, I am extremely comfortable with having them as a business in our Town.
Larry Cargnoni February 17, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Stores in any town serve the greater community. While it's quaint that LG residents want to be the primary influencers of their board, board members are paid to be stewards of the city and understand that LG is just one cog in the fabric of the south bay. Feedback from outside LG is a least expected and at most invited. On the flip side,the board also should not be swayed by a vocal few that have a lot of time and money on their hands to push any number of personal agenda/messages through media sources.
Florian Andrade February 18, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Hey look, Communism! Communists love it when a populace is disarmed; 25 million Ukrainians can't disagree (they're dead). Also didn't George Bernard Shaw buy into that whole eugenics thing too?
Florian Andrade February 18, 2013 at 09:44 PM
I would love to participate in one of these discussions. I think that the pro 2A and pro Templar Sports contingent are being misrepresented.
Don Wolf February 19, 2013 at 10:15 PM
I have been around for a long time; 5 children through Los Gatos schools and grandchildren currently in Los Gatos schoosl. I was happy to see so many of my friends and neighbors attending the two sessions of the council. During the second hearing, I saw that about 90% of us carried, "We support Templar Sports". I am happy to see that most of us would like our children and grandchildren protected from criminals and insane people instead of having them imprisoned in schools that are advertised as "gun free", where they can be killed without any defense. That "gun free" group should be held responsible for the mass killings where no defense was allowed. Negligent homicide is what they should be charged with! We should train our children and grandchildren in the responsible and save use of guns so they do not have the insane fear of guns some people have. I welcome Templar Sports and their safe gun training along with the sales of ammunition and guns. Contrary to some of the people on this thread, I consider defending myself and my family a legitimate and honorable RESPONSIBILITY!
Roberta February 20, 2013 at 05:39 AM
Don Wolf: thank you for being another voice of sanity in the face of all the fear and prejudice. If Los Gatos wants to keep itself threat -free best to close down Sur Le Table where they sell very large sharp knives or Ace Hardware where chainsaws can be purchased by anybody without benefit of a waiting period or background check or need to show a current safety certificate as is necessary to purchase a handgun here in CA. As an individual who has been certified as a EMT I have seen firsthand the effects of bad decisions on the human body and have also been present when use of firearms against a threat to a family stopped the threat.
Dennis McCarney February 20, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Templar Sports is a legitimate business that has followed all the rules and does not present any threat to anyone. This is all more of a knee jerk reaction to Sandy Hook tragedy. Some floated the idea that we should put this to a referendum, this is just plain dumb. If every business had to get a "political referendum." voted on before they could apply for permits, new businesses would not come to LG. It seems people in LG think everything is political and they should have to approve it, we don't run the town or the country by mob rule but by law. Templar Sports followed the law and their procedures were approved by the LG police dept. before opening. I support Templar Sports as a legitimate business and say welcome to them.
KMD February 20, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Did I miss something? Serving/drinking alcohol is a constitutional right?
Florian Andrade February 20, 2013 at 08:41 PM
...Ah, but the town does not exist in a vacuum. Its decisions could have affects on the surrounding communities.
Cynthia Howard February 21, 2013 at 01:40 AM
C.H. Wow, as a Town who prides itself as "open minded," and eager for new types of stores in town, we sure rush to quell a group of law abiding citizens that open up a new, and should I say legal business. My family has been in Los Gatos since the 1930's. There have been many different kinds of businesses in this town for the past hundred years, not just nail salons, bars and antique stores. My husband and I are more afraid of LGCRC "progressive" than anyone of the people who visit Templar Sports. In fact his thoughts are way more dangerous to our nation. And to all you "law" abiding citizens, STOP vandalizing our town; even if the business doesn't follow your uninformed views. It is also my understanding that our own Vice Mayor has a conflict of interest against one of the owners of Templar Sports, which when asked during the second council meeting he did not respond. Maybe we can focus energies into making our town an honest, transparent community.
Hans Johsens February 21, 2013 at 05:48 AM
Sandy, I have lived nearly all of my life in the Santa Cruz Mountains above LG, while I have a Los Gatos address, I am not within the Town borders so I am technically from "out of town". I do spend a heck of a lot of my income in Los Gatos though. I also know that many of the businesses that operate within town limits are owned by out-of-towners. Should their opinions not be heard? Your position is one of discrimination and elitism. Please be more tolerant of people who are not like you.
Roberta February 21, 2013 at 05:57 AM
There are more LG residents than obvious who have lived in the area ( which includes the mountains ) for many, many years. check the facts: LG extends all the way up to Summit Road..not simply the Yoga/Ballet Moms or those who have always lead a charmed life whose biggest challenge was likely getting in line first for a Latte.
Hans Johsens February 21, 2013 at 06:22 AM
@ Roberta: Those of us in the 95033 are not Los Gatos residents. We cannot vote in town elections, do not pay property tax in town, etc., etc., It has long been a "joke" of sorts that the Mountain Residents are the "red-headed step-children of Los Gatos", and as distasteful as this image is (one of an abused step-child) it is quite true I am afraid.
Phillip Salfen February 21, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Hans Johsens, It was that way ("red-headed step-children of Los Gatos") when my parents purchased their mountain property in 1944. Good (?) to see nothing has changed!


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