San Francisco is a City which prides itself on having something for everyone. The Pacific Rod and Gun Club facility is unlike anything else anywhere in San Francisco. It is a public facility with recreational target shooting (outdoors and indoors), a youth fishing program, a special events center, educational class rooms, a banquet facility, and a multi-use parking and event area.
1. Our argument is not with people, but with points of view. We need to change or win over the hearts and minds of the public who oppose our use of the property and then convince the SFPUC that we are the best choice to operate that facility for recreational activities including Target Shooting.
2. The use and maintenance of this property by the Club is being challenged by those who seek more and varied recreational opportunities. The Club provides a variety of recreational opportunities that are not very well known by the public — other than the 18 hours a week that outdoor recreational target shooting occurs.
3. The continued stewardship of this property by the Club is essential to providing the variety of recreational opportunities in a safe and clean environment.
The City needs more recreational space for its citizens.
The Club provides such recreational opportunities for the general public. The stewardship and management of this space by the Club is appropriate for this location, next to a busy street and the San Francisco Police Department’s outdoor and indoor weapons firing range and bomb disposal facility. There is no litter or graffiti, and the public restrooms are maintained and clean. The Club provides facilities for small and large public events, including mass runs (such as the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure), meetings and group celebrations, and large scale events such as staging areas for large international golf tournaments, antique auto swap meets, etc. The outdoor target shooting occurs only on a limited basis, for 18 hours a week.
The Club rents the facilities to civic groups for events.
The terms of the use of the Club of this City land are set by City of San Francisco. The Club built all of the facilities, including the banquet building, the custodian residence, the indoor target range, the cookhouse, the clubhouse, the shot house, the paved multi-use and parking area, and the outdoor trap and skeet areas. The Club maintains and repairs and improves the facilities. The City did not build the facilities, nor does the City contribute money, materials or labor for the repair and maintenance of the facilities. The heavy demand from the public to use the facilities requires charges for such use for repair, maintenance, and improvement. The monthly rent the City receives from the Club’s stewardship is not spent by the City on the facilities at the Club. Nor does the City share or invest in the facility the significant fees the City receives when the paved multi-use and parking area is used for special events.
Investigation of potential contamination is continuing.
In the past, the City has contracted for the dredging of valuable lead shot from the Lake. The proceeds from these events was split between the City and the Club. In the mid-1990s, the State required that outdoor target shooting use steel shot rather than lead shot. The Club complied. Ongoing investigations by the City have not indicated adverse effects from the historical use of lead shot. There are ongoing concerns, of course, about the historical use of lead shot before the mid-1990s, just as there are about continuing runoff into the Lake from streets and highways for decades. The City continues to monitor and investigate the quality of the water, the sediments, and the upland areas of the Lake. The Club has maintained insurance on the property and on its activities. There is no scientific evidence of any conditions that warrant remediation at this time.
Aren’t outdoor clay target sports incompatible with recreational use of the Lake?
The decade long public process known as the Lake Merced Task Force never concluded that the limited outdoor target shooting at the Club’s facility is incompatible with recreational uses of the Lake. The use of the Lake for competitive rowing events, for general recreation, and other purposes is not limited by the 18 hours a week that outdoor target shooting occurs with small shell loads and biodegradable targets. No other public/private venue at Lake Merced is as thriving and in as good a condition, both physically and financially, as the facility of the Club.
How are the Club’s activities compatible with a healthy urban park?
The Club provides choices and the ability of all residents to have recreational activities that are financially viable at a facility which is economically self-sustaining. The Safety and Care with which the Club has operated at this property since 1934 (76 years without a single accident) is remarkable and probably not equaled by any other City recreational facility.
The activities of the Club, with its recreational target shooting, sponsorship and facilities for nature appreciation through its youth fishing program, the Greenwings youth waterfowl habitat program, the adult and youth fly-tying programs, the native American salmon rituals of the Tyee Club, promote nature appreciation. The history of wildlife management and preservation of the environment in the United States is based on the cultural heritage of hunting and fishing. The Club supports an enhanced public appreciation of the natural environment, that is centrally available to the San Francisco community. The Club has been a good steward for many years of a unique recreational destination for many in the San Francisco community. Its self-sustaining activities, particularly in this time of recession, fit with the Vision for Lake Merced expressed in the Draft Report:
The Lake Merced watershed is a jewel in the crown of San Francisco’s open space system. As such, it shall provide a new model for integrated, multi-objective urban open space that provides sustainable natural systems, functional ‘green’ infrastructure, and a unique aquatic and upland recreational destination for the San Francisco community.
Please keep in mind that topics you wish to bring to the attention of the San Francisco Public Utility Commission should be grouped, such as :
Land and Water Use
You should think along the lines of “What the SFPUC Should Know About the Pacific Rod and Gun Club.” The Club needs support from those who share and believe in the role of the Club in a healthy and diverse society.
The issues as to the future of the Club do not include dialogues between pro-gun and anti-gun viewpoints. Instead, the process of public participation which the San Francisco Public Utility Commission is about informing the public about choice and the ability of all residents to have recreational activities that are financially viable at a facility which is economically self-sustaining. None of the ideas in the Draft Report have been shown to have any financial viability.
We encourage the public to consider supporting scenario number 1 on page 163 of the Draft Lake Merced Watershed Report as the highest and best recreational use of the John Muir site.
The Pacific Rod & Gun Club wants to thank the SFPUC for a fair and balanced report that was a very difficult job over a four year period.