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Newsletter No. 15, Oct. 24, 2022

  • Council to hear gun store appeal.

  • Planning meets California deadline.

Jack Brandhorst has set his sights on opening a gun store in Downtown Torrance.


With a 5-to-2 vote, the Planning Commission said no, so he has appealed, and his hearing is tentatively set for the Nov. 15th City Council meeting.


Torrance already has a dozen gun stores in its 21-square-mile area. Many among those in opposition think Torrance should follow Burbank’s lead and place a moratorium on these businesses.


A limit, however, is not the Council’s current concern: It is being asked to decide if Red Rifle Ltd. is compatible with other businesses in Downtown Torrance.


Council members are hearing about its incompatibility, not only from Downtown business owners and residents, but also from people who frequent the area. The visitors’ message is clear: They will no longer consider it a family-friendly area and probably will do business elsewhere if a gun store opens there.


In any other area of town, Brandhorst could have had his business permit without the possibility of objections.


So why would he want to move from his current Carson industrial location to the one area that apparently doesn’t want him? He said he “likes the vibe,” adding, “Absolutely go get your biscuits and gravy from Clutch and Coffee, go get that chicken and waffles from Local Kitchen, go get it, and then come by Red Rifle and pick you up a Glock and some bullets.”


He is like an O. Henry character who fails to understand that his action will destroy what he is trying to achieve. The vibe he likes will disappear.


At the commission meeting, Adam Schwartz, a fourth-generation Torrance business owner who lives in the district, sounded the underlying issue when he said he couldn’t “imagine a less appropriate location.” Schwartz owns a gun but added he doesn’t want a gun store next door to his business on Sartori.


Former Council Member Maureen O’Donnell made a powerful point about the 1986 murder of Police Officer Thomas Kelley by a man who had gone to a Downtown Torrance pawnshop but didn’t buy a weapon there because the store had no bullets. The killer walked to a nearby sporting goods store and took a loaded rifle on display. Police were called, and 25-year-old Keller was killed. Keller’s family sued the shop and won. The shop shut down, and a nearby memorial to Keller is a reminder of what happened.


Downtown Torrance falls in District 4. I don’t know how Sharon Kalani will vote, but in the past, she has shown that she understands her constituents’ concerns. Four votes are needed for the appeal to fail. Mike Griffiths, Asam Sheikh, Bridgett Lewis and Kalani are the most likely no votes.


I hope I am wrong, but my prediction is that Mayor George Chen, Jon Kaji and Aurelio Mattucci will once again be joined at the hip and vote yes. Mattucci has frequently pointed to his NRA membership in his defense of guns.


Last August, the trio placed Ron Riggs on the Planning Commission, and he was one of the two votes that prompted this appeal. Chair Greg Anunson, Vice Chair David Kartsonis, Robert Rudolph, Elizabeth Pino, and Tony Yeh opposed the shop; Mark Choi and Riggs voted for it.


Tune in on Nov. 15th. Will Glocks and bullets be added to Downtown’s menu?


Before I go:


· Hats off to Community Development Director Michelle Ramirez and her staff for meeting the deadline in getting state approval of the City’s Housing Element plan. The city designated areas that could be rezoned for about 5,000 residential units. If Ramirez’s team had failed to meet the deadline, the state could have stepped in on housing decisions. Two-thirds of California cities did not meet the deadline.


· Want to tell the City Council your opinion? Send it to CouncilMeetingPublicComment@TorranceCA.gov before 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting and it will be included in the supplemental material. If you just want to express an opinion on something, email CityCouncil@TorranceCA.gov. If you are discussing an agenda item, however, put Public Comment in the subject line.


Jean Adelsman

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