City takes aim at Lake Merced gun club

There is nothing more unnerving than taking my morning jog around Lake Merced and then suddenly hearing a clay target shatter as it is blown to bits by a bullet.

Forget that I’ve lived close to the lake for six years. Those bullet-on-target sounds that echo from the Pacific Rod & Gun Club still startle me.

Or, at least they will for little while longer, since this Lake Merced staple now has less than 30 days to evacuate the premises.

No more gun shooting noises? Hard to believe, especially since the Pacific Rod and Gun Club has been at its lakeside location since 1928.

But contention has grown between the club and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission since the early 1990s.  The SF Examiner reports that disputes over who — the club or The City — should be responsible for cleaning up lead bullets and clay targets that pollute the 14-acre plot.

Yes, for nearly 20 years, nobody has cleaned up these environmentally-hazardous materials.

That doesn’t even cover the issue of the month-to-month lease that the club has maintained for 78 years. Assistant general manager of water for the SF PUC Steve Ritchie tells the Examiner that the club has:

“a lease for fish and firearms. . . But if they’re all of a sudden hosting baseball games, charging for it and keeping the revenue, some of that revenue should be shared.”

This revenue includes $50,000 the club pocketed from parking for the U.S. Open, which was held across the street at the San Francisco Olympic Club in June. None of this money has been shared with the city of San Francisco.

In addition, The City wants the club to provide insurance and abide by anti-discrimination laws.

The gun club didn’t like any of these propositions. And while gun club lawyer James Arnold said early this week that he’s “optimistic a lease agreement can still be reached,” the club neither re-signed its lease by its deadline, or returned the Ex’s phone calls for comment.

So for all of you — like me — who still jump every time you hear target practice at the gun club, have no fear. Those shots should be silenced as of August 15.