By Jeb Bing
Have churches become too big for Pleasanton neighborhoods?Uploaded: Feb 9, 2007
Here we go again. Another Pleasanton church--Trinity Lutheran- is facing the wrath of homeowners who live nearby and even some who don't because of this city's absolute obsession with traffic. Valley Trails homeowners, represented by their neighborhood association, blocked expansion plans by St. Clare's Episcopal Church for months before the church caved in to pressure from the City Council to make amends, a decision that resulted in few changes but will cost St. Clare's an extra $250,000 due to rapidly-rising construction costs.
Last month, the Catholic Community of Pleasanton finally won approval for its long-planned community gymnasium and new parish center at its St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church complex on Stoneridge Drive. Again, the developmentwhich all officials publicly stated would be good for the community as well as the churchwas delayed by neighbors who complained about traffic. The added cost to the Catholic community because of long delays in its city approval process? An estimated $350,000.
Now it's Trinity's turn. Already nearly a year behind in the approval process, this church, built in 1965 on Hopyard Road between Del Valle Parkway and Golden Road, has a $1-million-plus plan to tear down two portable classroom structures used for pre-school and Sunday school classes and replace them with a one-story classroom building and a second to serve its young parishioners. The fast-growing church needs the extra space to serve its congregation but neighbors, most who moved into their homes long after the church was built, don't want any more traffic or a large parking lot that's proposed so that church-goers and others won't park in front of their homes. The Planning Commission approved the plan 4-0, but the neighborhood's appeal will now force consideration once again to a higher level, the City Council.
It used to be that churches were the cornerstone of small town American neighborhoods, much preferred over corner dry cleaners or apartment houses that seem to dot the landscape in larger municipalities. What do you think? Has our city become too big for value-added amenities in our neighborhoods, such as churches?