Carlsbad City Council begins process to allow gun ranges

Carlsbad City Council begins process to allow gun ranges
Lisa Gunther, owner of Gunther Guns in Carlsbad, at a Planning Commission meeting earlier this year, continues to seek a permit to open and operate a shooting range. File photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — The City Council is looking into allowing indoor shooting ranges in industrial zones and officially started the process at a meeting Tuesday night.

The council unanimously approved initiating an amendment to the zoning ordinances, which City Planner Don Neu said, could take up to six months.

The move came after a controversial decision in May denied Lisa Gunther, owner of Gunther Guns, a Conditional Use Permit to operate a shooting range.

Neu denied the permit because shooting ranges aren’t expressly listed in the city’s regulations, which he interpreted as meaning they were not allowed.

Gunther appealed his denial of the permit to the Planning Commission, which had a tie vote.

The tie vote upheld Neu’s decision, which then went in front of council, which voted to uphold Neu’s decision.

After the meeting in May, the council directed staff to look into changing the ordinances to eventually allow a range in the industrial zones.

Gunther asked the council to speed up the process.

“We realize in the overall schemes of projects in Carlsbad that this may seem to be a rather small issue in the city but as a small business, it’s a big issue for us,” said Gunther.

Mayor Matt Hall agreed and asked staff to speed up the process.

“To me, I would like to see this done much sooner than later,” Hall said.

Neu said it takes time because staff must first draft the amendment and then it needs to undergo a California Environmental Quality Act review, which takes 30 days.

Then, the amendment must go in front of the Planning Commission, which requires a notification process.

One way Neu said staff could speed up the process is by not allowing ranges in the coastal zone because then the amendment change would be required to undergo review from the California Coastal Commission.

The council thanked staff and clarified that the reason the gun range was denied wasn’t a Second Amendment issue.

“It’s clearly not a Second Amendment issue, it’s a land use issue. This is a use we haven’t contemplated in the city and one of the things that makes Carlsbad such a great place to live is that it has been well thought out, the location and placement of residential and commercial uses,” said Councilmember Michael Schumacher.

If shooting ranges are approved in the industrial zone in the city, which is surrounding Palomar Airport Road, companies would still need to apply and get approval for a conditional use permit.

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