Decision on Garden Grove Buddhist temple expected Tuesday

By DEEPA BHARATH, The Orange County Register, September 7, 2006

The Council could accept or deny Temple Quan Am's request to have limited services until their lawsuit against the city is resolved

Garden Grove, CA (USA) -- The City Council will vote behind closed doors Tuesday on an agreement that would determine whether a local Buddhist temple may temporarily hold limited services.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Quan Am temple last month, challenging the constitutionality of the city's zoning code. The temple, which is housed in an office building on Chapman Avenue, has tried and failed to secure a zoning change from office to residential use.

On Aug. 30, a federal court judge in Santa Ana encouraged the two sides to find a compromise that would allow the temple's monks and followers to perform limited services that would not violate municipal health and safety codes.

Failing a compromise, the issue would likely come back before Judge Cormac J. Carney in October, said Lois Bobak, an attorney representing the city.

"We're in the process of negotiating an agreement," she said.

Bobak said representatives from both sides will walk through the property to see what activities would be acceptable to the city.

"Our goal is to get it to the City Council in time for Tuesday's closed session," she said.

ACLU attorney Belinda Helzer said she is optimistic about a compromise.

"The temple has very specific requests of the city," she said. "Our main goal is to have at least the monks practice their rituals.