The Shapiro Files

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fighting the Good Fight

Last night, Marcie and I attended a San Jose Planning Commission public hearing in support of our neighbors, who are fighting the illegal expansion of a church in our neighborhood (download the Staff Report for all the boring details). In a similar hearing that took place in 1978, the Planning Commission ruled that the church would be allowed no further expansion. But despite this ruling, for the better part of the last 20 years the church has been illegally purchasing adjacent homes and using them for church business (including day care) without permits. They finally got caught and are now forced to apply for a permit. Receiving such a permit would amount to being rewarded for 20 years of illegal activity. Ridiculous.

Also, though I won't go into it in any great detail, the church has a long history of being a horrible neighbor. They have created very serious traffic, noise, safety, and sanitation issues that they refuse to address other than electing a church member to act as a "community outreach" stooge, who does nothing more than going around and saying "Problems? What problems? Everything is fine."

Neighbor turnout at the hearing was great (one of the commissions said he was "overwhelmed" by our size and the strength of our opposition). Our organizer, Joan, also encouraged everyone to not only show up but to speak at the hearing. So, spoke I did. Although I didn't prepare like I should have, I really enjoyed my allotted two minutes of grandstanding and am proud to say was the first speaker to get applause.

The commission ended up deferring the matter for "a minimum of 90 days" (i.e. probably anywhere from 6 months to a year) to see if the church could make a amends. Of course they won't. This is going to get pretty nasty. Stay tuned.


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