County warns landowner about illegal shooting range
Union Tribune (2008-01-31) Anne Krueger
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By Anne Krueger
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
January 31, 2008
ALPINE – County officials say they will issue citations to an Alpine-area man if he continues to allow people to fire guns on his property before obtaining a permit for a shooting range on his remote piece of land.
Pam Elias, the county's division chief of code enforcement, said Marc Halcon, who owns 160 acres off Japatul Road, was ordered in May not to run a commercial shooting operation on his property. Halcon was fined $100 last month when a county staff member visited his property and saw a group of people shooting.
Elias said more citations will be issued if the county receives reports that groups are shooting on the property.
“I'm a bit upset with him,” Elias said. “I think he knows better. He can't do what he's doing.”
Halcon wants to build a training center for law enforcement and the military, to be called Covert Canyon. He is seeking a permit from the county and a waiver on restrictions that keep him from building on the agricultural land.
The Alpine planning group voted 7-3 to allow the shooting range last week, but the vote is not considered an approval because it wasn't supported by a majority of the 15-member group. Five members were absent.
At the meeting, Marcus Custer, a special agent in charge of training for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Halcon agreed to his request to shoot and test new rifle sights Dec. 13 because no other ranges were available.
Halcon, who owns American Shooting Center in Kearny Mesa, said he is allowed to bring people on his property to shoot, but cannot charge them or operate a business without a permit. He said he's frustrated county officials are saying he cannot help friends such as Custer because they work for the Department of Homeland Security.
“If my government calls me up and says, 'I have an urgent and compelling need,' then I have to say no? ” Halcon said.
Elias said target shooting with a couple of friends is allowed, but bringing in government agents is not.
“It doesn't matter whether he collects money or not,” Elias said. “It's not recreational shooting.”
Anne Krueger: (619) 593-4962; firstname.lastname@example.org