At its March 1, 2016 meeting, the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) Board of Directors voted to not renew Chabot Gun Club’s (CGC) lease. The action spells the end for a shooting range that has been a beloved destination for hundreds of thousands of gun owners throughout the Bay Area for the past 60 years.
It is estimated that nearly 1,000 people showed up to the Board of Directors meeting–the largest turnout the Board has ever seen. Over 90% of those in attendance supported keeping the range open, many wearing blue (CGC’s color) and carrying signs to show their support. The Board ignored their pleas, and also ignored the pleas of the thousands of range supporters who sent letters and emails to the Board over the past two years. The Board also ignored letters from the NRA and CRPA which offered funds to help solve CGC’s environmental issues, a letter of support from Alameda County District 4 Supervisor Nate Miley, letters submitted by non-profit organizations like the Pink Pistols, and letters of support from surrounding shooting ranges, including Baypoint Rod & Gun Club and Richmond Rod & Gun Club. Those nearby ranges pointed out that they cannot accommodate all the shooters that are going to be displaced from CGC.
The Board didn’t care. Despite more than five hours and over 200 people making comments in favor of keeping the range open, the Board unanimously voted to deny renewal of CGC’s lease. Now CGC must shut down within a year.
The Board’s vote was based almost entirely on a recommendation and biased evaluation presented to the Board in one-sided reports prepared by EBRPD staffers, who have wanted to shut down the range for years. For the past two years CGC has battled EBRPD staff, who were determined all along to close the range. EBRPD staff has repeatedly exaggerated the problems associated with managing lead at the range. EBPRPD staff released a “Draft Informational Report” that drastically misrepresented the extent of the environmental issues at the range, and grossly inflated the costs of managing stormwater run-off.
At the EBRPD Staff’s request, CGC developed a comprehensive environmental management plan and sent multiple impact mitigation proposals for EBRPD staff approval. And when the EBRPD staff arbitrarily raised the environmental standards they wanted to impose to be more stringent than state laws requires, CGC still came up with a way to meet these unnecessarily higher standards. Then the EBRPD staff pulled something akin to a bait and switch, and gave CGC only 60 days to prepare a comprehensive business-plan type proposal, which not only had to address environmental mitigation measures, but also had to show an ability to pay for unnecessary and exorbitant environmental management fees.
CGC rose to that challenge too, but EBRPD staff provided the Board with grossly inflated estimates of what it supposedly would cost to run the range so that the Board would be forced to vote to shut the range without even giving it a chance. EBRPD staff claimed that it would cost $200,000 a year to contain filter stormwater runoff, and $2-$20 million in long-term cleanup costs. These grossly exaggerated cleanup costs were used as the pretext to get rid of the range. Even though CGC did everything to address EBRPD Staff’s concerns, from proposing to raise shooting fees by $6 per user to pay for cleanup costs, to offering to pay for all cleanup costs, to making improvements to the stormwater runoff system so that it complied with state standards, but the EBRPD staff refused to acknowledge the merit of any of it.
We will keep you informed of updates as the range winds down its operations. This a great loss for shooting sports participants and for those who believe in the right to keep and bear arms.
Help Us Help You
Shooting ranges, especially outdoor ranges, are under attack from multiple threats across the country, and particularly in California. The gun ban lobby is trying hard to shut ranges down. Opening a new one requires monumental effort.
Ranges are where people are introduced to firearms, practice firearm safety and proficiency, and support the Second Amendment (that is itself under assault). That’s why the NRA and CRPA have dedicated so much effort to protecting, improving, and developing shooting ranges.
Please help us fight for your right to choose to own a gun for sport, or to defend yourself and your family. The NRA and CRPA work together in California to fight for you, in cities and counties across the state, with regulatory agencies, and in the courts. Even with the generous rates that our team of civil rights attorneys, legislative advocates, experts and consultants grant us, these ongoing efforts are still expensive. You can support our pro-Second Amendment efforts by donating to the NRA and CRPA. All donations will be spent to specifically benefit California gun owners.