The controversial topic of a new gun store that opened in December wasn't on the agenda, but nearly 20 people were prepared to speak about it at the last Los Gatos Town Council meeting Dec. 17.
Proponents and opponents showed up in equal numbers.
That evening, Los Gatos Mayor Barbara Spector received several speaker cards and noted she and her four colleagues on the Council had received numerous emails about
The opening of the business at 611 University Ave. has been met with strong resistance from a large contingency in Los Gatos, mostly parents with children who fear the store will contribute to the illegal distribution of weapons and gun violence.
The residents are upset that the business was allowed to open in town without a conditional-use permit and they don't like its location being close to a thoroughfare heavily used by youth, across from a ballet studio, 100 yards from Oak Meadow Park and the main path for kids going to and from Daves Avenue Elementary and Fisher Middle schools.
There have been an equal number of Los Gatos residents who support the store and are pleased with its level of professionalism and commitment to firearm safety education. They point out that the store is owned by longtime Los Gatos residents with children in Los Gatos schools and that the shop is serving the hunting, fishing, target sports, and law enforcement communities.
Los Gatos Town manager Greg Larson has explained that retail enterprises are allowed as a matter of legal right under existing zoning at that location, which is not in the central business district (i.e., downtown) nor a residentially zoned property.
"There are no existing requirements in the town code for a conditional-use permit or any other discretionary approval for this retailer at that location. Consequently, there is no existing authority by which town staff, the Planning Commission and/or the Town Council could deny the operation of this retailer at this location. Future retailers could possibly face additional restrictions or processing requirements if the Town Council so amends the town code, but those changes could not be applied retroactively to this existing establishment," Larson said in a statement issued last month.
The Council is planning to hold a special study session at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4 to further discuss the issue and evaluate whether it can change town code to restrict firearms sales in the future.
Los Gatos resident Shannon Susick and two other women organized a protest outside the store Dec. 22.
Another protest is said to have taken place Dec. 29.
A supporter who was outside the small shop Friday afternoon said opponents are reaction out of emotion and fear about the issue of gun sales in town. "People aren't thinking clearly about it. People are very passionate about this topic, but when folks aren't thinking clearly they make bad decisions."
He continued: "The same people that fight bullying in schools feel like it's perfectly OK to bully this business out of existence and that's hypocritical."