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Thread: Alder Lake Park OC encounter

  1. #1
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    Alder Lake Park OC encounter

    Hello all, wanted to wait to introduce myself properly in a different way, but thought this would be as good a reason as any. I've been living here in WA since August of last year (Thurston County) and have been OCing since then (split OC/CC about 50/50) without incident. I've been lurking on the site since I got to WA, and finally got around to joining.

    This last weekend I was camping with my family up at Alder Lake Park near Elbe and had my first OC interaction. I was setting up my site on Friday (was OCing) and was approached by a park employee and told that I could not "display" my firearm in the park. I told them open carry was legal in Washington and no license was required. The employee stated it was a "park rule", and I asked if they were familiar with the state pre-emption statue, as I believed the park to be public property (operated by Tacoma Power, a division of the City of Tacoma). They said they were not, but asked if I would conceal. I told them I would not at that time, and they went on their way without further issue. About an hour or so later I was again contacted by an employee of the park, this time the "park manager" and told I had to conceal my firearm or put it away. I explained the same things to the "manager" and he stated the park was "private property" and the rules had to be followed. I asked why the park was "private" if it was run by the City of Tacoma, and he said it was not, it was run by Tacoma Power. I asked who owned Tacoma Power and he said "Tacoma Public Utilities". I asked specifically who signed his paycheck (more on this in a minute) and he would not answer me. He said if I refused to follow the rules, he would call the Pierce County Sheriff to come and "take my gun away" (his words) to which I asked him if he was asking me to leave the property. He stated that he was not asking/telling me to leave, but I needed to put my gun away or conceal it. I welcomed him to return with the Sheriff, and he went on his way. I OCed the rest of the afternoon without incident, until dinner time when I decided to enjoy a few adult beverages, at which point I secured my firearm for the evening. I was not bothered again by any employees, and no LEOs stopped by.

    The next day I OCed for a couple of hours in the park before/after heading up to Paradise without incident. I OCed (GP100) the entire time I was in the National Park without incident, even got a couple of compliments from other people and one Park Ranger. After settling in for the evening, I switched my GP100 out for my LC9 in pocket carry, and got ready to head out for a walk with my family. I noticed the Pierce County Sheriff driving around and watched him drive by my site twice without so much as a second look. While we were out walking, I saw the Sheriff stopped in a public area and I approached him to ask if he knew whether the park was public or private property. He responded he thought it was county property, but was not sure. (Deputy Hoyt was the individual I approached.) I asked if he was approached by the park supervisor about someone open carrying in the park, to which he replied he was not. He stated he was aware of OC, and didn't have a problem with it. He said he was not that familiar with the laws regarding OC, or pre-emption, but would do some research and talk with the park manager. He did not ask for my ID, did not leave his vehicle, and I believe it was an overall positive encounter.

    About an hour later, as I was getting back to my site I saw the Sheriff driving by again, this time with second vehicle with him, which I assumed to be his supervisor. Deputy Hoyt and Deputy Neimann (supervisor?) approached my site and Hoyt said he had talked with the park manager who insisted the park was private property. Neimann stated that he knew what pre-emtion was, and that he knew that OC was legal, and so did the park manager, but stated that the park had "several" complaints about my firearm from other guests. I reiterated that OC was a legal activity and the discomfort of others with firearms was not, in and of itself, "warranting or cause for alarm for the safety of other persons" in accordance with RCW 9.41.270. Neimann stated he was aware of the law, and that there was no problem with my firearm, but asked that I keep the "enjoyment" of the other campers in mind. I asked if he was telling me I needed to conceal (never asked if I had a CPL), and he stated that he was not, just asking that I "be considerate to others". He thanked me, we shook hands, and the deputies went on their way. I was not contacted again by anyone for the remainder of the weekend. I was not asked for my ID, whether or not I had a CPL, or any other identifying information. I am sure the deputies could have gotten my name from the park manager, since they knew my site number, or run my vehicle plates. (did not cover up the front plate, per Gogodogs’ recent experience at a state park) Overall I thought it was a positive interaction and the deputies were only following up with me to appease the park manager, if nothing else.

    I contacted another member here that I had met at the Lacey BBQ (JParks29) about this incident from the campground, since I could not access this site since I had poor connectivity at the park. From what research I have been able to do, the park is operated by Tacoma Power, which is owned by the Tacoma Public Utilities division of the City of Tacoma. The park signage quotes Tacoma City ordinances (not the "no firearms signs”, those are just painted wooden "slats" on the big "rule board"), the signs at the registration office say "Make checks payable to the City of Tacoma Treasurer", and park vehicles are using official "exempt" XMT plates. I asked the park manager who signed his paycheck because I'd be willing to bet it’s the same "City of Tacoma Treasurer" that you make your checks payable to for using the park, meaning the park manager is a city employee. My phone was not working well at the park, so I did not carry it on me and was not able to record any of the interactions. Had the last interaction with the PCSO deputies gone any longer, my wife would've recorded it with her phone, but by the time she went and got it out, the interaction was over.

    So, my question is am I correct in my determination that Alder Lake Park is operated by the City of Tacoma, thru their Public Utilities Division (Tacoma Power) and that pre-emption does apply? I think this was overall a positive encounter, especially with the PCSO deputies. I'd like to re-engage the park manager the next time I'm up there about the park's affiliation with the City of Tacoma and hence the applicability of state pre-emption and their park rules, and wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something first. Thanks in advance for any help you guys can provide.

    TL;DR:
    Camped at Alder Lake Park, told I couldn't OC by the park employees. Had a voluntary contact (positive) with the PCSO, who told me there was no problem with my OC and just to "be considerate of others". Need to know if Alder Park is indeed owned/operated by the City of Tacoma, making pre-emption applicable.

    Thanks,
    Bryan

    ETA: It's a bit of a drive, but that would be a great place to hold an OC picnic in the future, if indeed pre-emption applies. Also, I forgot to bring the pamphlets I picked up from the Lacey picnic with me. Lesson learned!
    Last edited by godsdaddy; 05-31-2012 at 06:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Opt-Out Members BigDave's Avatar
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    I put out a challenge to members last November 2011 on this very issue but either it is still in the works or left by the side of the road.
    Take a look at the link below, as I have listed all the parks that are owned and operated by Tacoma Power, Alder Lake being one of them.

    http://forum.opencarry.org/forums/sh...=1#post1643676

    By the way you did well and hopefully you will take this up and move forward with it.
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  3. #3
    Campaign Veteran gogodawgs's Avatar
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    ABOUT US

    Tacoma Power provides electric service to the city of Tacoma, Fircrest, University Place, Fife, parts of Steilacoom, Lakewood and unincorporated Pierce County in Washington state.
    We have been publicly owned since 1893. We are a division of Tacoma Public Utilities and are governed by a five-member Public Utility Board.
    Tacoma Power also owns Click! Network, which provides telecommunications services such as cable television, broadband, and wholesale internet services.
    Tacoma Power is publicly owned. http://www.mytpu.org/tacomapower/about-us/Default.htm

    Welcome to OCDO, I sure hope you follow up and re iterate state preemption to them.
    Live Free or Die!

  4. #4
    Regular Member decklin's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum!
    Also, good job handling the employee. It seems as though you did just fine.
    It also seems that the leo encounter was a good one.
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  5. #5
    State Researcher Bill Starks's Avatar
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    RCW 9.41.060 - one does NOT need a CPL to conceal a firearm while engaging in a lawful outdoor activity such as (hiking, hunting, fishing, camping...etc..)
    Last edited by Bill Starks; 05-31-2012 at 07:33 PM.

  6. #6
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    Ten years ago I went back and forth with TPU about their (then) blanket banning of guns at that park. They used the "administrative rules" argument, which is now invalid, thanks to Chan.

    Never did get anywhere with them back then.

    Perhaps in the future we can use RCW 9.41.810 against these people.

    "Deputy, would you mind writing a case report and forwarding it to the Pierce County Prosecutor, to see if this park employee's conduct rises to the level of a 9.41.810 violation?"
    Last edited by deanf; 05-31-2012 at 08:03 PM.

  7. #7
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    Guys,

    Thanks for the awesome replies thus far. I am certainly willing to pick this up and follow thru on it. I have initiated email contact with the City of Tacoma thru the generic customer service contact email on their website and am still awaiting a response. Once I get that email chain started, I will post it here, and if I don't get a response from that email I will figure out who specifically within TPU or the City of Tacoma I need to contact. Thanks again for the help, and I look forward to getting resolution on this. (but I'm not holding my breath!)

  8. #8
    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    The official Alder Lake park web page...very bottom right side..."A service of the City Of Tacoma"

    Might want to carry a copy of the Appeals court decision on "Chan" and maybe "Cassad" too.

    Oh, May I add, the only time (in over 40 years of carry) that I talked to a Sheriff's Deputy (Chelan Co). I was hunting...never asked for ID either.
    Last edited by hermannr; 06-01-2012 at 12:36 AM.

  9. #9
    Regular Member jt59's Avatar
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    taidnapam

    I spent last weekend at Taidnapam, a Tacoma Power Park and OC'd the entire time and got into several conversations with various campers at the park with no incident...

    It is interesting the signage that they have at the park there reads:

    • No Hunting
    • No discharge of firearms

    ...both leading me to believe that they are aware of guns in the park and are OK with that....

    My position was that while the power company is "managing" the park for the state (or city or whatever), they do not have the ability to write (re-write) state law (or policy).
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat....Teddy Roosevelt

  10. #10
    State Researcher Bill Starks's Avatar
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    wiki....
    Parks and recreation services in and around Tacoma are governed by Metro Parks Tacoma, a municipal corporation established as a separate entity from the city government in 1907. Metro Parks maintains over fifty parks and open spaces in Tacoma.

    RCW 9.41.290
    Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

  11. #11
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    I addressed this issue for Wa State parks, in 2008. Not specific to any one park, but very specific to ALL Wa State parks.
    http://forumn.opencarry.com/forums/s...in-state-parks
    Notice that any contact made by a ranger would only be to acertain that the firearms was carried in accordance with state law.
    Last edited by Trigger Dr; 06-01-2012 at 01:23 PM.

  12. #12
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    Thumbs up Update!

    Well, after almost two weeks, I recieved a reply from Tacoma Power regarding this issue. After having their legal department review the issue, they are actually going to change their policies, rules, and signs to be in compliance with state law, amending them to say "the unlawful discharge or display of firearms". Since open carry is perfectly "lawful" in Washington State, there should be no further issues with OC in the Tacoma Power parks. I am actually a little surprised that they even responded, let alone in a positive manner. Time will tell if they actually do change the signs, website, etc., but a follow-up visit is in order in the next couple weeks at least to see if the word has made it down to the employees yet.

    I want to say thanks to all the members here who contacted Tacoma Power and The City of Tacoma about this... I know there were several. It's a long, uphill battle to keep our rights from being infringed or taken from us, but we are winning it, slowly but surely. Thanks again guys... great job!

    Here is their response:

    ==============================================
    From: Tofte, Hannah (HTofte@ci.tacoma.wa.us)
    Sent: Fri 6/15/12 3:16 PM EDT
    To: godsdaddy@hotmail.com (godsdaddy@hotmail.com)
    Mr. Bxxxxxxxxxxx,

    I apologize for the delay in responding to you. The law is evolving in this area and therefore we had our legal department review your request.

    Our rules are intended to create safe, fun places for families to enjoy themselves and are not meant to infringe on the rights of anyone. We intend our rules to be consistent with state laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms and prohibiting the display of firearms and other weapons in certain circumstances.

    We are in the process of updating our brochures and promotional materials, as well as signs in the parks themselves, to clarify that it is the discharge and unlawful display of firearms and other weapons that is prohibited in our parks, as opposed to a general prohibition on the legal possession of a firearm.

    Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
    =============================================

  13. #13
    State Researcher Bill Starks's Avatar
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    and prohibiting the display of firearms and other weapons in certain circumstances.
    Good for them BUT..... what if another camper complains and now my open carry is that certain circumstance......
    Last edited by Bill Starks; 06-15-2012 at 08:41 PM.

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    Regular Member Batousaii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Gunr View Post
    Good for them BUT..... what if another camper complains and now my open carry is that certain circumstance......
    - Pretty sure it still falls under pre-emption RCW definitions.
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  15. #15
    State Researcher Bill Starks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batousaii View Post
    - Pretty sure it still falls under pre-emption RCW definitions.
    It always has but now they wrote in that little clause.... "and prohibiting the display of firearms and other weapons in certain circumstances."


  16. #16
    Regular Member cpgrad08's Avatar
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    Just doubling checking, I plan to OC tomorrow at Ft. Steilacoom park. I'm covered under state law since the park is under county control?
    I carry a Para Ordance 1911 .45 ACP.

  17. #17
    Activist Member golddigger14s's Avatar
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    Since "we" jumped on their case for their initial anti response, should we not respond in kind to acknowledge their positive response to show our appreciation for actually responding?

    Here is a response I will send:

    To whom it may concern,
    Most large organizations/companies/governmental entities when confronted with an issue with policies that have been ingrained for a long time usually provide “lip service”, and blow off the complainant with: “yeah we’ll look into it”. You actually took time to look into the issue, get the answer to the question, correct the problem, and respond back. Your actions are highly commendable, and your actions will not go un-recognized by our community which supports 2nd Amendment rights and responsible gun ownership and handling.

    We as a group totally agree that the safety of the all people who are enjoying not only the parks overseen by Tacoma Power, but all public locations in the US is paramount. Not one person I know has a desire to present a loaded weapon upon another human being; we have it available just like a seat belt--just in case. The one time I did not wear a seatbelt I had a pretty bad wreck, where I bent the steering wheel with my face…never again. Again thank you for your time, and consideration.

    I think some professional and well thought out responses will go a long way to win supporters. It's when they receive the off the deep end/radical responses that cause the walls to go up.

    Anyway my 2 cents.
    Last edited by golddigger14s; 06-16-2012 at 12:15 AM.
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    Regular Member jt59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Gunr View Post
    It always has but now they wrote in that little clause.... "and prohibiting the display of firearms and other weapons in certain circumstances."

    I'm sure the would be unable to scope this beyond the "circumstances" described in law.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat....Teddy Roosevelt

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Gunr View Post
    It always has but now they wrote in that little clause.... "and prohibiting the display of firearms and other weapons in certain circumstances."


    I think that is just going to add to the confusion...

  20. #20
    Campaign Veteran gogodawgs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by golddigger14s View Post
    Since "we" jumped on their case for their initial anti response, should we not respond in kind to acknowledge their positive response to show our appreciation for actually responding?

    Here is a response I will send:

    To whom it may concern,
    Most large organizations/companies/governmental entities when confronted with an issue with policies that have been ingrained for a long time usually provide “lip service”, and blow off the complainant with: “yeah we’ll look into it”. You actually took time to look into the issue, get the answer to the question, correct the problem, and respond back. Your actions are highly commendable, and your actions will not go un-recognized by our community which supports 2nd Amendment rights and responsible gun ownership and handling.

    We as a group totally agree that the safety of the all people who are enjoying not only the parks overseen by Tacoma Power, but all public locations in the US is paramount. Not one person I know has a desire to present a loaded weapon upon another human being; we have it available just like a seat belt--just in case. The one time I did not wear a seatbelt I had a pretty bad wreck, where I bent the steering wheel with my face…never again. Again thank you for your time, and consideration.

    I think some professional and well thought out responses will go a long way to win supporters. It's when they receive the off the deep end/radical responses that cause the walls to go up.

    Anyway my 2 cents.
    Yes, you make a very important point. I learned this same technique from Trigger Dr. I have sent several thank you responses to both private entities and LEO.
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  21. #21
    Activist Member golddigger14s's Avatar
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    I totally believe in fighting for our "cause". I think that when they are willing to work with us to recognize their effort to make an effort to comply needs to be recognized. Just like employees/kids/spouses, it's so easy to criticize a mistake/wrong doing, to recognize doing something good goes so much farther.
    "The beauty of the Second Amenment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." Thomas Jefferson
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  22. #22
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    I sent a very similarly worded response to Ms. Tofte, thanking her for responding and for working to correct their rules so as to be in compliance with state law, and not discriminating against law-abiding firearms owners. I will post it up once I get a chance, from my computer. I'm not going to attempt that from my phone. Camping at Rainbow Falls State Park this weekend... hopefully it'll be quiet!

    Carry on gents...

  23. #23
    Regular Member fire suppressor's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum and good job on your first encounter sounds like you really did your homework!

  24. #24
    Regular Member fire suppressor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Gunr View Post
    RCW 9.41.060 - one does NOT need a CPL to conceal a firearm while engaging in a lawful outdoor activity such as (hiking, hunting, fishing, camping...etc..)
    Can you explain that too me? I looked it up but did not see where it says you do not need a cpl

  25. #25
    Regular Member Difdi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Gunr View Post
    It always has but now they wrote in that little clause.... "and prohibiting the display of firearms and other weapons in certain circumstances."

    An unlawful display of a firearm is where you point it at someone without lawful justification. Banning a lawful display trips over state and federal law. Of course, if nobody ever broke the law, we wouldn't have police...

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