San Francisco gun club at Lake Merced could get temporary reprieve 

click to enlarge The SFPUC took over Pacific Rod and Gun Club's lease in May, which is when talks for a cleanup and the club's eviction began. - BOLTRON-/FLICKR (CC)
  • boltron-/Flickr (CC)
  • The SFPUC took over Pacific Rod and Gun Club's lease in May, which is when talks for a cleanup and the club's eviction began.

The cleanup dispute over San Francisco’s lone gun range, at Lake Merced, is likely to result in a compromise Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors, but the conflict is far from finished.

San Francisco moved to evict the 400-member Pacific Rod and Gun Club in July after the two sides reached an impasse over what the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission estimated to be $10.5 million in soil cleanup costs at the site, which the club has occupied for nearly 80 years. The club said the cost was likely much lower, perhaps $5 million.

But during the eviction process, a deal was struck for a month-to-month lease — at least temporarily. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who is sponsoring the board’s settlement agreement, said the compromise could make for a more “orderly departure” in the event of a negotiation breakdown and a situation in which The City would still have sway over the club’s insurance company to pay for the cleanup.

“They could have said, ‘OK, we’re gone,’ and left all their structures and all their work,” Elsbernd said, adding that a public discussion on the best use of the 14-acre plot should now be in order. “This lets there be a process, and lets them be team players.”

Elsbernd said the club would have an incentive to engage in talks over a new, “more modern” lease if its leaders see potential for renewed and more assured rights to use the land — perhaps a smaller piece of the property.

“This ensures that they’re going to play ball with us,” he said.

Mike Miller, the club’s president, could not be reached for comment Friday, but the club’s website described “relatively positive progress with our landlord.”

“We still have a long way to go to secure and ensure our long-term existence at Lake Merced, and need all the help we can get,” Miller said in a statement.

Having been managed by The City’s Recreation and Park Department for decades, the club’s lease was taken over by the SFPUC in May, which is when the cleanup issue was pushed. At last count, the club was paying San Francisco $4,700 per month for use of the land.

SFPUC officials also were perturbed that the club made $50,000 in parking fees during last summer’s U.S. Open golf tournament, but did not give half to The City, as is commonly required of city lessees.

The proposed settlement would allow the month-to-month lease to continue for up to two more years. Both sides would have termination rights, as long as each gives a 90-day notice.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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Dan Schreiber

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