Garden Grove, Buddhist temple still working on agreement

By DEEPA BHARATH, The Orange County Register, September 13, 2006

A federal court judge encouraged both parties to find a compromise to allow monks, nuns and supporters to practice until the issue of locale is decided.

Garden Grove, CA (USA) -- City Council members on Tuesday did not take any reportable action behind closed doors on whether to allow a Buddhist temple to hold services temporarily.

The Quan Am temple, housed in an office building on Chapman Avenue, sued the city last month through the American Civil Liberties Union, challenging the constitutionality of the city's zoning code.

A federal court judge recently encouraged the temple and the city to arrive at a compromise whereby the temple's monks, nuns and supporters may practice their religion there until the broader issue of whether it's allowed that the temple operate at that location plays out in court.

Lois Bobak, an attorney representing the city, said council members "are still discussing the issues." They are scheduled to meet behind closed doors again on this matter at 5 p.m. Thursday, she said.

ACLU attorney Belinda Helzer said the agreement is going through some fine-tuning.

"The city needs to decide what rituals they will allow, what rooms may be used as well as the occupation limits from a public health and safety point of view," she said.

Helzer said the temple has requested that the monks and nuns practice their rituals during the week and to allow temporary weekend services for lay supporters.