Amid national discussions about possible gun control initiatives, gun shows across the Southland have been reporting record traffic, prompting early concerns in Glendale that a similar event scheduled for March could also attract the same attention.
Add to that the fact that the upcoming Glendale Gun Show on the weekend of March 2 could be the last on city-owned property, and city commissioners this week said officials should prepare for the worst.
“We're talking about a doubling [of attendees],” Transportation and Parking Commissioner Aram Sahakian said Monday at a City Hall meeting. “Ontario was a mess. Orange County was a mess.”
At the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa last weekend, about 25,000 people attended the two-day Crossroads of the West Gun Show, some showing up at 3 a.m. on the first day of the show to get in line.
Crowds at the Crossroads show at the Ontario Convention Center the weekend of Jan. 5 doubled from the typical 7,000 attendees.
According to a city report, the Glendale Gun Show usually attracts about 1,500 people daily to the Civic Auditorium, which is situated between Glendale Community College and a quiet, upscale neighborhood.
The potential for higher-than-usual traffic at the March event had some residents worried.
“It's really important that staff has a good planning process underway,” said resident Deborah Dentler.
The Glendale City Council is set to vote on an ordinance permanently banning the gun show from the Civic Auditorium by early March, although the scheduled event on March 2 and 3 will be allowed to take place.
City spokesman Tom Lorenz said the Police Department is working on a traffic control plan, but said a high volume of cars in the area is common because of Glendale Community College.
“Traffic flow for thousands of attendees in the area is not unusual. This is a weekend,” Lorenz said. “The college has 10 times the number of students in the area during the week and we don't have officers directing traffic.”
However, he added that if traffic control and additional resources are required, the organizer would be charged for them. It costs $117 per hour per police officer.
Lorenz said the pre-condition has been included in several event permits in the past — from large parties to boxing events — but the city has never had to invoke it.
Glendale Gun Show organizer Steve Friesen declined to comment on traffic control concerns because city officials have yet to discuss the issues with him.
Friesen has been tight-lipped since the City Council asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance banning his event and others like it from city property.