Council Votes Unanimously on Retting Property

Many speakers at the council meeting offered facts, exposed their concerns and raised their voices; but Jessica Harwood broke into sobs. The City Council meeting of August 28, 2023 took on an issue of major community concern; the gun store near the grade school. 

It was an agenda item that drew a huge crowd. More than 50 people signed up to speak, and the council voted unanimously to create a sub-committee to work on an ‘urgency’ ordinance that would prevent another gun store from moving in after the closure of Martin Retting. 

The Culver City residents who attended the meeting were talking about the fear of violence, and huge evidence of harm. More than half identified as parents, and almost a third identified as parents of grade schoolers attending La Ballona Elementary.

The Retting gun store is less than a thousand feet away from the school.

Retting announced recently that he would be retiring and closing the shop, but the ‘grandfather rights’ could allow another gun store to move into the same space.  The community push for a way to prevent this from happening, and to keep the sale of firearms away from the school, was wildly popular with speaker after speaker coming to support finding a way to prevent another gun shop from moving in. 

Jessica Harwood began to weep while asking the City Council to support an ‘urgency ordinance’ and then she broke into sobs. “My child is terrified…the nightmares… my own nightmares… please don’t let this become another gun store.” 

 Action Item A-2, to create an urgency ordinance on “transfers of all legal non-conforming uses or transfer of non conforming firearms uses” saw broad support from the entire council. With the almost daily reports of mass shootings – Orange County last Wednesday, Jacksonville on Saturday, University of North Carolina on Monday just before the start of the meeting- no one discounted the community’s pleas for a measure of safety.  

How soon the ordinance will return to the agenda is still open, but City Attorney Heather Baker said that the community speakers had “offered a number of possible legal avenues that the city can research.” 

Judith Martin-Straw

Corrections – Since 2005, Culver City has a *local distance ordinance* that requires gun sellers operate outside of 1000 ft of schools, parks and playgrounds. The previous version of this article inaccurately attributed this to the state of California. 

The Retting store was grandfathered in from this local law, because they were there before the ordinance existed. The grandfather rights would be transferable to another gun store if they moved in within a year of the original store’s closure in the same space/lot.

The purchase of the store, which was voted on at the Sept. 12, 2023 meeting, allows the city to repurpose the building and/or the property.

This article was updated and corrected Sept. 16, 2023. 

 

 

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