By the Daily Post staff
A Southern California chain of sporting goods stores has filed a $295,301 claim against the city of San Carlos, alleging officials committed fraud by lying to store executives about their willingness to allow a gun retailer in the city.
Turner’s Outdoorman signed a 10-year lease last year for a space at 1123 Industrial Road near REI. But on Nov. 13, City Council imposed a moratorium on new gun stores after hearing from an overflow crowd of gun opponents.
Turner’s filed a claim March 29 seeking the $295,301 it has spent on the San Carlos location.
The claim, filed by attorneys for the chain of 20 stores, said city officials misled the retailer into thinking it could open a store in San Carlos, and Turner’s followed all of the necessary steps to begin sales in the city.
“Towards the end of the licensing process, some city officials directly misled Turner’s including giving Turner’s permission to begin costly demolition work on the identified retail space while at the same time knowing that other city officials were working to propose a moratorium that would prevent the space’s opening,” the claim said.
City Manager Jeff Maltbie did not return a call from the Post seeking comment on the claim.
If the city denies the claim, Turner’s can sue the city in Superior Court.
The claim states:
• “City officials actively sought out groups that would oppose Turner’s establishing a store in the city.” If true, it might explain the large turnout at the Nov. 13 council meeting.
• City officials were biased against Turner’s and, in order to cover up those biases, “have deleted social media accounts used for communication with the public.” The claim refers to tweets deleted by Councilman Ron Collins.
• The city failed to turn over documents requested by Turner’s attorneys in a public records request.
• City Manager Maltbie reminded council members in an Oct. 23 email that the store had followed all of the steps necessary to open a store.
• That city employees and council members worked in secret to stop the store, deciding to spring the moratorium on gun stores on Turner’s as a surprise.
• But before the moratorium was publicly revealed, city employees stopped the approval process of the store without telling Turner’s.
The claim states, “There is only one word for this level of deceit by city officials: Fraud. Council members and staff committed fraud when they knowingly stopped the process from moving forward before secretly planned official action was taken by the City Council to stop the process. City staff committed fraud when they told Turner’s to keep moving forward on occupancy, and spend money on (the) store opening when they knew a moratorium was being planned.”
Expenses Turner’s put in its claim include $150,000 to restore the leased store space to its original condition after the retailer had made improvements; $33,000 in lease expenses; $79,305 in demolition work, and $5,587 in attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.