The Sufism Reoriented sanctuary project in unincorporated Walnut Creek is making news again. It turns out the Planning Commission approval of the project last fall was based on false statements made by church officials, according to a letter sent Friday by project opponents to the Board of Supervisors. The letter, sent by a group of residents who live in the vicinity of the proposed building project, asks the Board to decertify and correct the environmental impact report before recirculating it for public comment.
As approved, the Sufism Reoriented project requires 125 parking stalls for the 66,074-square-foot building; however, the plans provide for only 71 stalls on site. To satisfy the 54-stall difference, Sufism Reoriented represented to the county that it had arranged to lease additional off-site parking at the nearby Meher School located on property owned by the Lafayette School District.
In a letter dated February 15, 2012, Lafayette School District Superintendent Fred Brill told Supervisor Gayle Uilkema:
In an e-mail to [church official] Pascal Kaplan dated September 16, 2011 I made clear that [the District is] not authorizing the Meher School to enter into a third-party agreement with Sufism Reoriented, or any other group, regarding the use of fields, facilities or parking lot.
About one week after Brill sent this e-mail to the church, the county issued the final environmental impact report which included the bogus parking lease. It is unknown whether Sufism Reoriented notified county staff or the Planning Commission that the parking lease was invalid, though public testimony before the Commission questioned how Meher School, as a tenant, could legally sublet the parking lot.
Ten opponents of the project have appealed the Commission’s approval of the controversial project. In addition, Sufism Reoriented filed one appeal seeking to increase the numbers of trucks concurrently permissible during construction. A hearing with the Board of Supervisors will begin at 9:00am on Tuesday, February 21st at the Lesher Center’s Hoffman Theatre in Walnut Creek. The county arranged the hearing at this location to accommodate the large numbers of area residents expected to attend.