Neighbors of Grant Elementary in Santa Monica are complaining about increased traffic and noise levels since City of God Church began renting the school’s auditorium.
According to the LA Times, neighbors have been expressed dissatisfaction with the church and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District since January. Six district campuses allow larger churches to rent space when schools aren't in session. A state law allows various organizations to meet at schools. Churches, without a suitable home, can worship on a "one-time or renewable basis..." defined as temporary, according to the law.
City of God’s Reverend Casey Bombacie said that while the church is at Grant, the plan is to invest in the school by adding new chairs, repainting the auditorium and maintain a garden on the school’s grounds.
Despite good intentions, neighbors say they can hear the worship service from their home, and worry about the increased congestion to the neighborhood, which already deals with traffic from the elementary school and nearby local college.
"I don't want anything happening here on Sundays," said Ehsan, a mother of three. "We have so much noise during the week, we just want it to be quiet. They should find a better venue."
One resident was disappointed about the opposition. "Nobody complains when John Adams [Middle School] has football games. I don't hear about people writing letters about what a nuisance that is but suddenly, the church for an hour makes a different noise and the community is in an uproar?" Sidonie Smith asked. "We can't have a double standard about noise in the community."
Bombacie doesn’t expect the church to remain at the school permanently. City of God's permit is up for renewal June 29. Whether the church stays or goes rests with the district.
Publication Date: March 4, 2014.