County Gives Sufi Sanctuary Permit to Build

Planning officials accepted the sanctuary's proposal to use parking at nearby schools.

County officials issued a building permit Friday to a Sufi sanctuary slated for unincorporated land between Lafayette and Walnut Creek. The move surprised opponents of the project who thought that parking issues remained an obstacle to construction.

The Sufi Reoriented sanctuary will use parking from nearby schools associated with the group, according to the Contra Costa Times, which reported that shovels could go into the ground as early as Friday.

Read more Patch coverage of the Sanctuary:

County Board Approves Sufi Project

Saranap Residents Divided By Sanctuary Plan

County Planning Commission OKs Sufism Reoriented Facility


Christina G. February 11, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Good! It will be a tremendous improvement to the neighborhood. They are great neighbors and deserve the right to build their church on their land.
lovelafayette February 11, 2013 at 07:42 PM
The Lafayette School District has had recent discussions about returning White Pony School to public use. I wonder if the county knows this?
michael frederick February 11, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Lovelafayette, I seriously wonder whether supervisors who reduce parking requirements due to the proximity of a bus stop, shortly before removing it, care. Ditto for the entire notion of remote parking to justify under-parked development -- would you park 1/2 mile away and take a bus, or simply park in front of a neighboring property? Parking codes prescribe X number of spaces per sq ft built, for any given use. When we start to see Supervisors attack such by wading in with Bus Proximity, Bart Proximity, Applicant Studies and Applicant Promises to walk to services, Remote Parking Off-sets, etc. to synergistally attack parking code requirements -- at politician's discretion -- there is no joy in Mudville. That's the tragedy, here. If the Sufis violated all of the 100+ conditions for approval that supervisors used for political cover -- there would obviously be no consequence... I don't see where a body that renders 11,000 sq ft "too massive" a decade earlier and comes back to approve 66,000 sq ft, has any interest in holding the Sufi's feet to the fire or maintaining public confidence. The point is, it's up to the Sufis to do whatever they want -- there is no credible governing authority in Martinez. Regarding the shoveling commentary, can someone notify the Times that the digging phase is complete.
Joseph David Dacus February 19, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Ah, the tired "Sufis can do whatever they want" myth. If this was even partially true, they'd already have occupied and be worshiping for years in their new sanctuary, and we'd not be having this conversation. They spent four years seven months of county processing/hearings/approvals, and seven prior months from when they showed their plans to the Saranap Community Association in fall 2007. This is lost on some. That thousand of pages of documentation, EIR, outside consultant reports on every CEQA category, and there were approvals at every level along the way (always appealed by the same quite small core of opposition), and they continue to harangue elected and appointed officials after it has been approved, like unruly pups nipping at the heels of long suffering staff, is sad indeed. The applicant has done everything asked of them by law, code & statute. Every condition of approval will need to be met to achieve their occupancy permit and move in, every inspection along the way must be passed, and every ordinance must be maintained on a daily basis. Saranap neighbors may sleep safely in their beds. The horse was dead years ago, but they never stop kicking. It desiccates and disappears into a long gone Saranap past. You can't argue there was a rush to judgement after more than five years. Now they just want to build their approved building in peace. And yet the dead horse continues to be kicked~
michael frederick February 19, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Sufi Joe, A decade ago 11,000 = "too massive" Today = 66,000 approved I think that tells most intelligent people everything they need to know about County oversight, or the lack of it. I think that presents the idiotic "proximate" arguments for things like bus stop and remote parking offsets into the proper light.
Born and Raised February 19, 2013 at 10:47 PM
@michael, I'm not trying to minimize the impact of your statement but 2/3 of that 66,000 square feet of that area is under ground. Local and county planning is full of historical "blind eye" decisions. Look how the City of Lafayette is trying to allow the recent spat of apartment buildings to go forward. That being said, this particular project has been more above board than most (and yes, I've been following it's progress) and yet the opposition continues long past the expiration date of being effective. Like it or not, what's done is done.
michael frederick February 20, 2013 at 06:59 AM
Born and Raised, Sorry, two times "too massive" doesn't rise to reasonable. Further, when considering neighborhood impacts, beyond visual, the whole 66,000 counts -- particularly for parking impacts. I can't think of one "blind eye" in Saranap over 50 years: Can you? It's too politically and, potentially, legally expensive to shoot from the hip, as you suggest is routine. If you followed this project and are as knowledgeable as you imply, you wouldn't have a problem making the connection between SUFI bus stop and off-site parking, Sufi parking on 8,000 sq ft vs 66,000, LAFAYETTE apartments, WC Bart proximate apartments, Neiman Marcus, etc. Mr. Smart Growth, Don Blubaugh: "Valet parking is an innovative parking solution"; this was worth $8M in defered parking. There's a war on parking, delivered as "smart" -- this project does a great job of debunking that and laying motives bare. The points made here pertain to my property in West Downtown, on Main, and my residential neighborhood. That you present this as a one-off affair that everyone should put behind them speaks to either your experience or interest. There are some things, like the senile planning commissioner who chastised opponents, that need to be addressed. This guy equated the impacts from a COMMERCIAL storage facility, against the fwy, with this RESIDENTIAL location. You may present that you are comfortable having senile preside over your neighborhood, I'm not and I'd like to publicize it.
Born and Raised February 20, 2013 at 07:49 PM
@michael, While I understand your frustration, trying to demean myself or my opinions while pontificating in such a negative manner will get you nowhere with me and quite possibly it is alienating anyone else that you converse with about this subject. Are you looking to gain allies or change the mind of someone who has the authority to stop this project? If so, you're definitely going about it the wrong way. You took my three sentence reply and made all kinds of allegations about how I view not only this particular project but other political/municipal problems that apparently have you upset as well. I went back to other posts on this subject and see that you've done the same thing to anybody else who disagrees with you. If this is the way you represent yourself in public, I can see why no one will listen to you or even attemp to understand your argument unless they are like minded already. How's it working for you so far?
WC-Independent February 20, 2013 at 08:20 PM
The utopian view of society provided by ABAG has everyone living in high density housing using public transportation. People won't have cars, so parking will not be an issue...
michael frederick February 20, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Born and Raised, You obviously participate here to make e-friends, anonymously. I'm just into addressing the issue at hand, with whatever substantiation and reason I can. If you want to make friends, one-on-one, pick up the phone or write a letter -- don't post in a public forum, particularly on serious matters people care about. Your assumption that people should care more about not bruising anonymous guy's ego over issues impacting their neighborhood might be mistaken. Asking for elaboration on public assertions is "demeaning"? We have a lot of guys on commissions downtown that express the same view, publicly! My sense is, if those assertions had any substantiation or reason behind them, they shouldn't be.
Born and Raised February 22, 2013 at 06:15 PM
OK michael, then let's talk about your ego for a second. Do you really think that your opinion about this project and how you view being railroaded by the Walnut Creek's planning comission is the only imminent one? You go on and on about it as if it's your crusade and that's fine but you're inability to see anything beyond your own anger blinds you to getting anywhere but maybe acting like a blowhard on a less than large press venue (being Patch). Your acting as a three year old screaming a yelling about not getting your way and that's about it. If you had any true validity in your arguments then the project would not have gone forward, correct? In a way I'm glad the project continues, if for no other reason than to give you an outlet for your anger because it seems that you had more than enough before this project was even conceived. You make thinly veiled insults as if you believe you're superior in some way and that it somehow blosters your argument. Again I'll ask, how's that working out for you so far?
lovelafayette February 22, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Is it true that the Sufi's orchestrated a takeover of the Saranap Homeowners Association by having droves of sufi members join (NOT all from Saranap, from as far away as SoCal) so that they held a supermajority, and they presented the project to the supervisors as being "approved" by this decades old group. And that the actual homeowners lost control of the $9000 in the organizations bank account? And that the real home owners formed a new group with restrictions about residency? All legal because of the way the original bylaws were written to encourage membership by area businesses, but in My Book morally, ethically and spiritually wrong. Do sufi's believe in the golden rule?
michael frederick February 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM
lovelafayette, Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and apparently not. The "honorable" Sufi Joe, above, is the HOA prez! Most "religions" include a moral component that has been stabbed, beaten, and left in a ditch by this group. The county rewarding such would be my major complaint. Through most of the group's lobbying I was indifferent, even supportive: It's your land, build what you want (under the assumption there was county oversight). My grandparents, then I, had lived at 1343 Blvd Way for many years. Whatever this group did over forty years at the Holy Ghost Hall was of no concern, as it didn't impact anyone. There was no religious persecution, just indifference. In early 2000, Congress passed RLUIPA which conveyed upon religions land use protections against discrimination. After forty years of operation in the area, guess who became a religion? Religious persecution and the threat of costly litigation became the RLUIPA leverage used to steam-roll a weak-minded and broke county. Also timely, after forty years, Sufis decided to take over the HOA, to act as its spokesman! What initially caught my eye was Dacus condemning "NIMBYs" on the JCC, NEVER mentioning that his religion had a pending project up the street, hinging upon addressing neighbor concerns. This is "good" -- he's the Prez! As B&R mentioned, this is probably a done deal. However, it's important that ridiculous tactics and methodology be recognized for precedent's sake.
Joseph David Dacus February 26, 2013 at 09:37 PM
If the majority of a board opposes a project, and there is an election, and they are STILL the majority afterwards, explain how a minority "took over" the group? I'm fair at math. Walk me through how they were taken over? These repeated falsehoods about a takeover are bogus. There was no takeover. They QUIT! Sensible people in the Saranap recognize this, but you can't. Of 11 board members, 8 opposed the project BEFORE it had even been submitted for review. That prompted me, and one other person, to run in 2008. I professionally perform design reviews for all kinds of projects. The coercion of neighbors came from those OPPOSED going door to door spreading fearful false rumors about a project they had not even been sent to review by the County (they had done it before). The SCA leaders ran vetted opposition candidates. Some didn't even live in the Saranap! THIS was the rush to judgment, and caused 2 other candidates to run who also saw the unfairness of these tactics. Your statements are just more spreading of old tired false rumors, filled with purposely vague innuendos of wrongdoing that were ALL repeatedly shown untrue, and discounted on the facts. I was elected board president in 2012, AFTER the project was approved. RLUIPA is a protection if approvals are not secured, but they were, on the projects many merits! www.SaranapOnline.org


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