Off target

Off target

Council wants staff to keep studying deal with Lower Arroyo Archery Range

By André Coleman 09/18/2013

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Efforts to reach an agreement between the city and a local archery range missed the mark Monday night when the City Council decided to send the matter back to staff for more study.  

Council members Jacque Robinson, Margaret McAustin and Gene Masuda favored a new agreement that would have mandated the Pasadena Roving Archers, the nonprofit group that maintains and operates the historic range, to carry a $1 million insurance policy, pay the city up to 40 percent of its quarterly revenue and send members to training courses.
Staff will conduct a survey to determine how many people use the range and its peak business hours. Staff will also study the feasibility of removing lead from the Eaton Canyon shooting range and moving archers to that part of town, a move supported by a group of residents living above the range led by activist Claire Bogaard, wife of Mayor Bill Bogaard, who was in attendance Monday night with a handful of residents who want the archery range closed.

The issue will go back to the Recreations and Parks Commission and come back to council later this year. “This is part of our heritage,” McAustin said just after midnight during the council meeting. “This is one of the things that makes Pasadena a great city and it has been here for 70 years.”

Opponents of the range came to the council meeting with a handful of facts that didn’t seem to jibe with official reports. Councilman Steve Madison continuously referred to conflicts between archers and hikers, despite the fact that Pasadena Police Lt. Tom Delgado pointed out that there were only two police reports on file.

Delgado told the council that he had examined arrows reportedly found on private property and that many of them were broken, oxidized and years old. The arrows appeared to have been recovered from the brush, not private property, as opponents had claimed. Delgado told the council he asked the people who found the arrows why did they not file a report and they did not respond.

Many of these allegations were repeated in an email obtained by the Weekly, which was sent to residents living in the area. The email urged area residents to write to the council to put an end to a “dangerous situation.”

The letter claims that it is unacceptable that a private group has control over half of the usable recreational space in the Lower Arroyo. Local residents, the email said, were afraid of falling arrows and that there have been several incidents in which joggers and pedestrians had just missed being hit by arrows.

According to the city’s Municipal Code, the archery range is a designated single-use space and all activities must take place in designated areas, which would mean that hikers are breaking the law if they enter the archery range. The letter also claims that arrows are shot after dark by archers that are drinking and smoking. The closest homes to the range are 90 yards from the closest target and sit atop a hill that’s 150 feet high.


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An additional point that was overlooked: Repeatedly throughout the evening, several council members made a point of demanding that PRA turn over their membership rolls to the city, and that the entire deal hinges upon that. Each time they did so, they were in violation of Federal law.

The Supreme Court ruled in NAACP v. Alabama (a decision that is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary this year) that no club can be forced to turn over member information to any government body. This is basic first-year law school stuff now. Every attorney knows it.

The Mayor is an attorney. Councilman Steve Madison is an attorney. They both knew they have no legal right to even ask for this information, and tying it to the approval of the contract is clearly illegal, and yet they sat right there and did it, over and over, and insinuated that the PRA had something to hide.

This is your intrusive and abusive government at work, deliberately eroding our civil rights while we watch.

posted by JimMacQ on 9/19/13 @ 03:32 p.m.

The article is pretty fair and balanced and even shows how PRA's detractors seem to miss the mark on many occasions. I imagine that PRA already maintains adequate insurance (likely well in excess of $1MM) and probably trains its instructors as well. Agreements between local governments and organizations that use public lands are commonplace in this country and have been for years. All in all, the article sketches a meeting was largely a win for PRA with its detractors exposed as being prone to exaggeration. All is well, right?

Not so according to Mr. JimMacQ who rambles about an "intrusive and abusive government at work" that is "deliberately eroding our civil rights while we watch." This type of inflammatory language smacks of right-wing Tea Party members. Mr. JimMacQ would do well to realize that California is a Blue State where we treat others equally and do not tolerate bigotry and that organizations that use public lands must not be vehicles of bigotry. Mr. JimMacQ further fans the flames by referencing the landmark NAACP v Alabama case as a way to propel his right-wing hate. This is not only intellectually disingenuous; it is downright disgusting.

I was very sympathetic to PRA's plight after reading the article. Now that I've seen Mr. JimMacQ's response, I am not so sure. I don't want my children surrounded by people of hate. I sincerely hope that Mr. JimMacQ's views are not representative of those of PRA and that the PRA leadership will dismiss him for his extreme views. Organizations that use our pubic lands are subject to government control. We don't need the Tea Party near our children.

posted by BlueState on 9/20/13 @ 09:10 a.m.

I am not by any means a Tea Party member, or even a Republican. This has nothing to do with political parties, and everything to do with a small group of self-appointed elites abusing the law in order to protect "their" park.

posted by JimMacQ on 9/20/13 @ 02:24 p.m.

BlueState would do well to look into the history of Pasadena and recognize that the reason the archery range has been a bone of contention is simply because in 1935, it had no segregation policy; in 1947, when the city fathers decided to shut down the Brookside Plunge rather than let minorities swim in it, people of color were full members of PRA and practicing in the canyon below their homes. When the anti-archery people refer to the archers as "seedy," "rogues," "riff-raff," "barbarians," or "blue-collar @**holes" (all terms that have been used against the archers in public), they are repeating what their predecessors in the neighborhood said, only without the racial epithets.

posted by JimMacQ on 9/20/13 @ 02:29 p.m.

Funny how things change; back in the '60s and '70s, complaints about an abusive and intrusive government were considered left wing hippie talk and proof of one's being a communist.

Considering how many of my long-time acquaintances have blocked me on Facebook because of my virulent condemnation of the Tea Party and Religious Right, I should take these comments as being hilariously ironic.

Let's go back to the facts: The Mayor and at least one city councilman, who are attorneys, knowingly made demands that they knew they could not legally make in an attempt to deliberately derail a plan that has the support and approval of virtually everyone in a position to approve it.

I fail to see how citing the most important pertinent legal case, the one that established the applicable law at hand, a landmark civil rights case that the Tea Party would despise, constitutes either promotes bigotry or "fans the flames." In any case, it directly contradicts the disingenuous allegation that my disgust at our elected leaders is driven by adherence to any political doctrine other than the truth.

How in the world does citing a case that helped to defeat segregation constitute "right wing hate"? Perhaps "BlueState" doesn't know or understand the ruling or what it means. Simply put, the state of Alabama demanded that the NAACP turn over its membership lists, they refused and sued and won, because they knew that if the state had access to those rolls, they would harass and attack the members. The Supreme Court ruled that clubs do not have to turn over membership information to any government body for any reason.

In case you hadn't noticed, "BlueState" (why not use your real name? I do), for the last couple of years the protests about privacy and restraining the intrusive, abusive government are not coming solely from the right; they are coming from all over the political spectrum in the wake of WikiLeaks, Snowden and Manning. Hardcore lefties like Noam Chomsky are saying what I said. People of both parties and all over the political spectrum are outraged by the NSA's domestic spying program and policy of monitoring email and phone calls of millions of ordinary Americans, the TSA's treatment of passengers and the ongoing militarization of police departments as part of the endless "war on drugs." To name but a few. There is a lot of talk online about the erosion of the Bill of Rights, especially the Supreme Court's recent ruling that the Fifth Amendment is an opt-in program. Republicans have been rather silent on most of these issues, since they originate with either the Bush administration's legacy or the Republican-appointed justices.

But it was a nice attempt at trying to dismiss my actual point with a lot of smears and false allegations.

posted by JimMacQ on 9/20/13 @ 03:05 p.m.

@BlueState I didn't take JimMacQ's comment that way and I see nothing he wrote that justifies your conclusions or warrants your contempt for him and the archery group.

If the City Council demanded the club's roster, JimMacQ is not incorrect in writing that the city was acting intrusively and abusively. The archery group has the same rights as the NAACP. That is not a "Blue State" thing or "intellectually disingenuous" but it is the way "we who treat others equally and do not tolerate bigotry" think.

I am in the Lower Arroyo almost daily, sometimes with my dog, and I have never witnessed any problems with the archers. The one's I've met are polite and always quick to say hello or ask me how I am doing. I just don't see a problem there.

posted by HeartfulDodger on 9/20/13 @ 04:28 p.m.

The Roving Archers is a great organization. However, archery is a martial art, and bows and arrows are deadly weapons. There is no way untrained folks should be allowed to shoot arrows on public property outside of a class or supervised instruction. Hopefully any proposed plan makes the possibility of untrained folks, out there on their own, difficult to impossible.

posted by Vivavilla on 9/20/13 @ 05:17 p.m.

I was also at the City Council meeting, and I'm not a member of the PRA. Several council members, Madison in particular, were pressuring/demanding the PRA to turn over their membership roster. I think it's reasonable to ask for the number of members, but what additional information do you need that can only be obtained from having their names?

I do not want my affiliation with organizations I choose to join reported to whatever state agency requests it. In any case, it's a settled precedent. It's illegal to demand it, which I'm sure several council members were aware of.

posted by bmoision on 9/20/13 @ 08:03 p.m.

As far as the safety of the range, there have been 'untrained' folks shooting arrows there for more than 70 years with no injuries. I don't know if you've been to the range, but its location and lay out lends itself to safe use. Especially when there is a track record, rather than speculate, we should look at whether something actually is dangerous or not.

posted by bmoision on 9/20/13 @ 08:10 p.m.


Archery is not a martial art which is defined on Wikipedia as a "codified systems and traditions of combat practices." I have met so many archers I can't count and none that I have met seem to have any interest in combat.

I'd say archery is more like basketball than combat. They "shoot" at a target and, like basketball, the idea is to hit the target.

Perhaps someone who knows more than I will chime in but I believe the archers have a perfect safety record that spans almost 80 years.

If the archers were dangerous, we'd know but nobody is contradicting their safety record. Not the police and not even the people who don't like them. Almost 80 years without an accident. Wow! I think that is impressive.

My dad used to say the proof is in the pudding.

posted by HeartfulDodger on 9/20/13 @ 10:53 p.m.

It seems the whole government intrusion element alleged and discussed ad nauseam above misses even the petticoat. The deal agreed to by the City Council and Pasadena Roving Archers contains a revenue sharing agreement in which Pasadena Roving Archers agreed to pay a certain percentage of their revenue to the city based on how many of its members live, work or go to school in Pasadena (cf, Coleman, Aiming for Answers, 9/11/2013). Thus, the membership rolls are relevant and pertinent to the agreement.

posted by Equitable on 9/22/13 @ 04:31 p.m.

The government intrusion element alleged and discussed ad nauseam above misses even the petticoat. The agreement reached between the City and Pasadena Roving Archers contains a revenue sharing agreement in which the archery club agrees to pay a percentage of its revenue to the city. The percent of their revenues that they pay is determined, per the agreement, by what portion of their members live, work and learn in the Pasadena. Thus the membership rolls are a relevant and pertinent part of the agreement.

posted by Equitable on 9/22/13 @ 04:36 p.m.

The Roving Archers is a great organization, and archery is a great martial art (especially zen archery). Let's deal with reality, though, a bow and arrow is a deadly weapon that actually changed the course of warfare. There may have been no accidents in the Arroyo to date, and that is fortunate and impressive. It does not mean that untrained archers who do not understand the risks or how to control the arrow should be allowed unsupervised, on public property. The financial risk is ultimately on the taxpayer if something goes wrong. This would be deemed "ultrahazardous activity" in the absence of proper control and regulation (and maybe even with it). I support archery as organized activity, but not unsupervised, untrained folks on public property.

posted by Vivavilla on 9/23/13 @ 05:47 a.m.

@equitable You mistakenly refer to the agreement as if it were ratified. The "revenue sharing" was proposed and, even if it had been ratified by the Council, the metrics you mention are demographic and can be determined without turning over the roster.

@vivavilla A weapon is something used to attack or for self defense in combat or war. Look it up. Describing bows and arrows on the range as weapons is akin to saying that a surgeon's scalpel is a weapon because it is a knife. Just about anything, even a pencil, can theoretically be used as a weapon but aren't you being just a bit disingenuous?

As a daily user of the Arroyo, I am as concerned about safety as anyone and I'd rather focus on safety not pejoratives and facts not fancy. That said, I would like to share some information I've found from independent (non-archery) third parties.

According to the City of Pasadena and other sources, the PRA has been in existence for almost 80 years without a single reported archery accident or death. I am not aware of even a single person who denies that.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and and Human Services, and the National Safety Council injury rates for archery are less than those for virtually all other sports including baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, soccer, swimming, and tennis.

Insurance companies charge premiums based upon actual risk of injury or death. According to Sportscover, risk of injury and insurance premiums for archery are among the lowest of all sports and about the same as badminton and bowling.

According to the Pasadena Police Department and signs I've seen in the Arroyo, unsafe use of the archery range is already illegal. Same goes for unsafe equipment.

According to the Staff's recommendation to City Council, the PRA's more stringent safety and conduct rules (including all archers carry proof they have completed a certified safety course) should be incorporated into the code so they can be enforced when the PRA is not supervising the range. The police department agreed with this proposal.

According to the City of Pasadena's Recreation and Parks Dept reports the PRA already carries liability insurance indemnifying the city and this is not a point of contention going forward.

Based on the facts I've gleaned from the City and other non-archery sources, none of the claims that the archery range is putting us at risk of injury or liability hold up under scrutiny.

The agreement proposed and recommended by city staff, Recreation and Parks Commission, and police would actually make all us safer by more clearly defining the boundaries of the range, posting additional signage, and strengthening the laws.

When the City Council "kicked the can down the road" they delayed implementation of safety measures recommended by staff, commission and police. That is what I find truly disconcerting.

posted by HeartfulDodger on 9/23/13 @ 02:28 p.m.

HearfulDodger. I hate to get into a dialog, but by the logic you set forth, a pistol on the pistol range is not a deadly weapon. I think it is still a penal code violation to shoot an arrow anywhere but on a designated range. I personally support the continuation of organized archery, but I worry about: (1) untrained people with a deadly weapon, and (2) folks who do not have respect for what a bow and arrow can do as a deadly weapon. The Roving Archers, I believe, provide a safe outlet, as well as training with and respect for the weapon.

posted by Vivavilla on 9/23/13 @ 03:09 p.m.

@Vivavilla, fists & feet can be used as "deadly weapons' according to the FBI. As a matter of fact more people were killed in California with those two items than the entire number of people killed with long guns in the United States (current FBI stat). So what was your point again? "Untrained people" with "deadly weapons" kill on average 80 people a day on our streets and highways, so what was your point again?? Nothing is a "deadly weapon" until actually used to kill someone, until then it's just an inanimate object (even a pistol on a gun range).

posted by John Whitaker on 9/25/13 @ 12:02 a.m.

@ BlueState - "not only intellectually disingenuous; it is downright disgusting." You can pretty much summarize your entire attack on Jim with that one line of yours. I'm curious though, why are you afraid to use your real name???

posted by John Whitaker on 9/25/13 @ 12:33 a.m.

Everybody commenting seems to be missing a most telling aspect of the article. It is stated:

"Council members Jacque Robinson, Margaret McAustin and Gene Masuda favored a new agreement that would have mandated the Pasadena Roving Archers, the nonprofit group that maintains and operates the historic range, to carry a $1 million insurance policy, pay the city up to 40 PERCENT OF ITS QUARTERLY REVENUE AND SEND MEMBERS TO TRAINING COURSES (emphasis added)."

Mostly, it's a revenue-grab. Whose insurance company would the PRA ultimately be required to purchase from? Would the archery club yet be allowed to train its own members? If I read that emphasized element properly, no. Instead, they'd be required to outsource the training. I imagine that somebody on the council has a perfect, sole-source preference to impose upon any fledgling archers. It's part-and-parcel of Pasadena's revenue-enhancing, bureaucratic-industrial-complex.

Ultimately, this whole recreational activity will be taxed (by way of applied fees, or by whatever other preferred euphamism denoting "legal" government theft) into an unaffordable pastime for any of Pasadena's low-rent rubes.

This council is increasingly treating public property as if its their own, special, revenue-enhancement extravaganza. Nanny-state tyranny, and they love it.

Oh yeah, and Jimmy, how dare you employ logic, reason, and common sense in response to BS (appropriate initials ~). Do you think he got embarrassed? By the boilerplate he was punching out, I'd say that he was paid for that response. Trying to muddy the waters.


posted by DanD on 9/25/13 @ 06:40 p.m.

I agree that the problem is not the archers but the city government. The archers have been there least it seems like it...and, from all accounts, they've been excellent neighbors.

I am disabled and I see this all the time. The city spends a ton of money on consultants who are supposed to help the city council make the city a better place for all of us (including the disabled). They did this to the tune of more than $2 million and I'm talking about the much-ignored lower arroyo master plan.

Then, they do nothing. So why is the council, most notably those who funded and passed the plan, now going rogue?

The only organized activity in the lower arroyo for the disabled is archery. It cost the city (and citizens) nothing and we're not interfering with anyone else.

posted by DisabledNotDead on 9/27/13 @ 11:40 p.m.
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