SANTA CLARA — The city of Santa Clara is looking into the possibility of creating a shooting range or just a shooting area within city limits. The goal would be to funnel all of the current shooting activity west of town into one specific spot.
Currently the desert area west of the residential district of Santa Clara is scattered with several uncontrolled shooting sites. People aren’t cleaning up their sites, and gun activity is occurring close to other land use activities, Santa Clara Public Safety Director Robert Flowers told the City Council Wednesday night. The area has become a hazard, Flowers said.
“It’s a safety issue,” he said, “and it’s a quality of life issue.”
The area west of town is enjoyed by not just gun users but many others, such as hikers and bikers, council member Herb Basso said.
“I don’t think this is an issue between users or among users,” Basso said, “I think that everyone would agree that if we could have some more organization we would all use the land more safely.”
Flowers said that having a lot of land users in an area that’s uncontrolled – with several different gunfire locations – has become too dangerous. Something is going to have to be done, he said.
Flowers and several Santa Clara City staff members have already identified a spot that they believe could possibly become a suitable shooting site. It is isolated, down in a gully about 1 1/2 miles from town. In this gully, there is already an unofficial area where users have been parking and with some improvements, Flowers said, it could make a suitable range site.
Until now, the shooting range idea was just in its discussion phase, but Wednesday night, Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg moved it closer to reality by appointing an ad hoc committee to look into the matter further.
One of the committees tasks is to decide whether the city should create a traditional shooting range or just an area where people can go shoot. There is a difference in the two designations, Flowers said, and either designation would have different requirements.
“We just need an area that’s accessible to the public,” Flowers said.
Another of the committees significant tasks is to enter serious discussions with the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM manages this area of land and, in preliminary talks, has been open to the idea of a shooting range, Flowers said.
Council member Kenneth Sizemore said he also had preliminary conversations with BLM managers in which they brought up a number of possible hurdles for a project like this. Among other things, some of the possible issues of a concentrated shooting site were the possibility of lead contaminating the soil, the difficulty of policing the area, and the task of closing down the other shooting sites around the area.
“There’s still a lot of discussion that needs to happen,” Sizemore said.
The details of the project will be further discussed by the ad hoc Committee and subsequently brought before the Council.
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