Citing residents’ concerns about gun proliferation, the Daly City City Council voted 3-2 Monday to prevent a gun shop from moving into town.
The shop’s owner says he might respond by suing the city.
After his South San Francisco landlord announced plans to convert his previous storefront into a restaurant, Todd Settergren had hoped to move his firearms repair and sales business, SetterArms, to a 7345 Mission St. space.
He gained unanimous approval this year from the city’s planning commission. But when the matter came before the City Council in August, Councilman David Canepa called for a continuance and the creation of a subcommittee to study the issue. The subcommittee consisted of Canepa and Vice Mayor Sal Torres.
After sometimes heated testimony, the council voted 3-2 to deny Settergren’s permit application. Voting against the gun store were Canepa, Torres and Mayor Ray Buenaventura. Mike Guingona and Judith Christensen voted in favor of approving Settergren’s application.
Over 30 Daly City and Bay Area residents spoke Monday on both sides of the issue.
After the meeting, Settergren said his likely lawsuit against the city would be based partially on his claim the council had no legal justification for denying his application.
Guingona said he voted in favor of approving the permit because denying the application would leave the city vulnerable to a potential lawsuit.
“The city has no legal authority to prevent this applicant from opening his business based on land use policy,” Guingona said.
In a Sept. 9 letter to city officials, Settergren’s lawyer, W. Lee Smith, said he was writing on behalf of the National Rifle Association and the California Rifle and Pistol Association, also his clients, to urge approval of Settergren’s application.
Smith claimed denying the application would be unlawful because the city’s municipal code doesn’t forbid gun shops in commercial districts, and specifically allows similar businesses, like pawn shops, that buy and sell guns. Smith also claimed the city has allowed two national retail chains, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Big 5 Sporting Goods, to sell guns without specifically obtaining use permits.
Doing so implies gun sales are an approved use for commercial zones, Smith said, claiming the City Council couldn’t treat Settergren’s business differently without significant justification.
Resident Dana Smith echoed that sentiment during Monday’s council meeting, holding up a print ad from Big 5 Sporting Goods that, in addition to offering various guns, also featured weapons like a Bowie knife and a “tactical” axe. “What I do like is fairness and equal treatment under the law,” Smith said.
Barry Rodriguez spoke in favor of the gun shop, claiming the campaign against Settergren was a “sham” and had “slandered” him. “The tactics that have been used in this campaign are ridiculous; they’ve demonized the guy,” Rodriguez said, “They’re saying he’s getting all this support from the NRA. Where is the NRA?”
A vocal anti-gun contingent made their voices heard during Monday’s meeting. Paulette Brown displayed large photographs of her son’s corpse, explaining that the teenager was shot 30 times when he was murdered nine years ago in San Francisco.
At least two other commenters said they had lost children to gun violence. One of them, Elizabeth Torres, said two of her children had been murdered with “modified” guns.
Hillside Homeowners Improvement Association Vice President Teresa Proano, who opposed the permit application, objected on ideological grounds, saying, “It’s not the gun store, it’s the symbolism.”
Holding up a photo of a rifle that appears on SetterArms’ Yelp page, Proano added, “If your neighbor gets shot with this gun, the bullet is going to go into your home.