151 comment letters, petition received on Buddhist temple draft MND

The public comment period on the re-circulated draft environmental Mitigated Negative Declaration for the proposed Buddhist temple in Bonsall closed Feb. 11, and the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) received 151 comment letters and one petition.

DPLU received 45 public comment letters critical of the project, 106 letters supportive of the project, and a supportive petition with 804 signatures. DPLU staff will review and respond to all comments, although the response to any comments not related to California Environmental Quality Act issues will be that the comments are outside the purview of the environmental statement.

DPLU staff does not currently have an estimate when the potential Major Use Permit would go to the county’s Planning Commission for a decision. Although the Planning Commission has the authority to issue or deny a Major Use Permit, the decision can be appealed by either side to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The Major Use Permit would legalize the existing religious assembly and group residential uses on the 8.94-acre site with A70 (limited agriculture) agricultural zoning while also approving the future addition of 22,796 square feet of building area to bring the total amount of building area to approximately 33,475 square feet. The conditions of the Major Use Permit would restrict hours of operation, the number of large events, and the maximum number of visitors.

The property in the 6300 block of Camino Del Rey was purchased by the Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Congregation in 2001. Previous uses on the property included horse keeping and horticulture, and the native vegetation has been removed due to the past residential and agricultural activity. Eucalyptus is grown on-site for sale to plant and flower businesses.

An existing one-story house with 2,840 square feet of living space and a three-car garage is currently being used as a rectory, and the proposed Major Use Permit plans to convert that building into a library and study rooms. A converted horse stable measuring approximately 5,151 square feet is approximately 50 feet north of the house and would be converted to a storage facility.

A feed and equipment storage building totaling 2,164 square feet is approximately 30 feet from the converted stables but would be removed to provide parking on the site. A 573 square foot two-bedroom trailer which was once used as a caretaker’s residence is planned to remain in that use. A groundwater well at the southwest corner of the property is used for irrigation of the plants grown on the property, and the conditions of the Major Use Permit include the destruction of that well.

The site’s current uses include quiet meditation during the weekdays and religious assembly on the weekends during which between 100 and 300 people visit the facility. There are no formal parking facilities other than those which were provided for the existing single-family residence, and access to the site is provided by an existing driveway off of Camino Del Rey.

The 22,796 square feet of new building facilities would consist of a 6,196 square foot main worship hall, a 7,664 square foot meditation hall, and an 8,936 square foot monk residence hall. The two-story residence hall would include 12 double-occupancy bedrooms, a communal bathroom on each story, a laundry room, a locker room, three multi-purpose rooms totaling approximately 900 square feet, an isolation bedroom with a private bathroom, a library, a 325 square foot kitchen connected to a 1,055 square foot dining room, and a 450 square foot office and reception area.

The accommodations would provide for approximately 30 monks at any time. The residence hall would have a maximum height of 33 feet, 2 inches.

The meditation hall would be a partial two-story building with architectural features creating a height of up to 29 feet. A large main room would have an altar at the east end for congregational assembly and meditation, and approximately 1,725 square feet would be used for a multi-purpose room which would also serve as a weekend food warming kitchen and weekend dining hall. The second floor would include a conference room measuring approximately 2,430 square feet. Both stories would have restrooms.

The main worship hall building would be 35 feet in height, and a steeple over the altar area would extend the height to 40 feet. In addition to a large room for congregational assemblies, the main worship hall would include daily administrative use office space and restrooms on both stories, and the second story would have approximately 1,440 square feet of study and private meditation area.

The grading of 14,400 cubic yards of cut and 13,400 cubic yards of fill would create an export of 1,000 cubic yards, and the relocation of the driveway to meet County of San Diego sight distance requirements would involve movement of 3,400 cubic yards of cut and 4,900 cubic yards of fill.

A 24-foot-wide paved driveway from Camino del Rey would serve as the main access while emergency access would be provided from Wrightwood Way at the site’s northern boundary. The 81 parking spaces would include six handicapped spaces, and a permanent overflow parking area would have a capacity of an additional 41 parking spaces.

The monks do not drive cars, and no visitors would be allowed after 5 p.m. The center would operate between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and Buddhist holidays; normal weekend meditation activity would occur approximately 45 times a year and would attract up to 300 people. Four special religious events each year, based on Buddhist holidays, are expected to attract between 300 and 600 people, and three annual events associated with Buddhist holidays or a visit from the Headmaster would attract up to 1,000 people.

Amplified sound would be used in the interior of the buildings, but not in any exterior areas, during special events. In order to monitor and control the number of visitors and parking spaces, the Dai Dang Meditation Center would set up a Website and require that all who attend the special events pre-register on-line.

The Website would not only register the total number of people for each event but would also assign parking spaces to the visitors. All guests would be required to print out a parking pass or permit prior to arriving at the site, and no visitors would be allowed to enter the site by automobile without such a pass or permit.

If the number of guests is projected to exceed 300 people, privately-contracted passenger busses would be utilized and staged at the parking lot of the Bonsall Union School District, which is approximately 1.75 miles west of the site. The facility would not have a gift shop or other retail sales.

The existing on-site septic system would be upgraded to 7,000 gallons to support 100 guests, 30 full-time residents, and four volunteers. The Major Use Permit would require portable toilets for any event attended by more than 100 people. The new construction would also include two stormwater detention basins.

The original application for the Dai Dang Meditation Center was submitted on April 2, 2004. Three drafts of initial studies preceded the first draft environmental Negative Declaration, which was advertised for public review in October 2007. The response to public comments on that draft Negative Declaration was completed in May 2008, and the public review was followed by submittal of a visual study and submittal of the first draft of extended initial studies following the public review. The first draft of initial studies following the public review was submitted in November 2009, and subsequent draft initial studies led to the recirculation of the draft Mitigated Negative Declaration.

33 Responses to "151 comment letters, petition received on Buddhist temple draft MND"

  1. joemamma42   February 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Wow…they have been working on this for 7 years and still haven’t even broken ground. And why do they have to give up their well? Water isn’t getting any cheaper, don’t they still maintain a grove?

  2. observant   February 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I’m concerned this temple could become a base for Buddhist Extremists determined to spread peace and contentment in the western world.

    Our society is a land of consumerism, high loan to value ratios, and general ignorance on a scale unknown in the history of the world. This is no place for a Buddhist Temple.

  3. Good one Observant   February 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    We’ll file your post with the one of every three Cambodians slaughtered by Buddhists, won’t even get into what they have done in Vietnam.

  4. fallbrook mama   February 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I vote for this temple. A step up from the moral majority who profess saintliness, yet contradict themselves and their beliefs on a daily basis.

  5. Robert   February 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    The immediate infrastructure does not support such a facility in this area . The driveway is precariously situated, the roads already clogged here.

  6. BonsallGayGuy   February 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    As residents of the immediate area we too are strongly against this project. It has nothing to do with religion but is about a simple land use decision. When we purchased our property some years ago we knew exactly what it was zoned for and what it was not. We had really hoped to put in an additional bedroom or perhaps a stand alone 1 bedrrom guest cottage and bath. During escrow we were told by the County that the property did not support an expansion of our existing septic system to allow for that type of addition to our tentative plans. At that time we could have ended escrow and continue to look for property that met our needs or purchase this property and content ourselves with development permissible under code and zoning. The temple had the same decision to make when they purchased 10 years ago.

    PS-And to ‘fallbrook mama’, where do you live? Of all people my spouse and I don’t lecture need a lecture from you about the so-called moral majority as it has no relevance here. Thank You!

  7. Ryan   February 21, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Same thing Happened in Hacienda Heights in the 80’s. But, Bonsall isn’t Hacienda Heights.

  8. Bodhipaksa   February 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Good one Observant: Saying that the population of Cambodia was slaughtered by Buddhists is like saying that the population of Russia under Stalin was killed by the Orthodox Church. The Khmer Rouge were virulently anti religion of any kind, Pol Pot believed Buddhism to be "a decadent affectation," and their intent was to wipe out the Buddhist religion in Cambodia. Buddhist monks were singled out for persecution and execution. Nice attempt at a smear, but your comment merely highlights your prejudice.

  9. Oh wow   February 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I think we should check the zoning again. It probably says somewhere that Buddhists aren’t even allowed in our neighborhood. LOL.

  10. fallbrook mama   February 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    BonsallGayGuy: Well, I live in Fallbrook..hence the handle "Fallbrook Mama". All I can say is, people that oppose are opposing it because they don’t want it in "their backyard". If you really wanted a property that could hold more square footage, then you should have ended escrow. My husband and I decided to shop until we found a property that met our needs. It is a free world. If I decide to make a comment about religious freedom, then I can. That is the great thing about America, my friend.

  11. observant   February 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    To BonsallGayGuy: The septic system requirements are based on simple math. You either have the room for additional leach lines or you don’t. You either have land that percolates or you don’t.

    If you still want to add an addition, it may be worthwhile investigating again because the rules and types of systems allowed change over the years. For example they now allow pumping uphill to a leach field and 20 years ago they didn’t. You should check it out and build that addition so you can stimulate the economy. As a bonus, you’d have some of us hardbodied construction workers at your house.

  12. SB   February 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I hadn’t heard about this. I’d welcome a Buddhist temple in the area. I can’t think of a more peaceful addition to a community.

  13. 1st Air Cav   February 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Does anyone know if the Bonsall Union School District has given permission for the Temple to use the school parking lot as a "staging area" for busses when there are overflow people attempting to reach the Temple grounds? Where will the people park when they have to ride the buses to the Temple grounds?

  14. Lotus   February 22, 2011 at 5:09 am

    A Buddhist meditation center would be an invaluable resource and cultural addition to our community. It would be in keeping with Fallbrook’s tradition of freedom of all religions, as exemplified by all of the places of worship along Stagecoach Dr.

    I welcome and support this meditation center.

  15. BonsalGayGuy   February 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    To Fallbrook Mama #10-Yes you’re absolutely correct that you have every right to make any statement you may wish about religious freedoms and I would have it no other way. You’re even free to make such statements out of context that would seem to unfairly imply that those of us who oppose the applicant do so on religious grounds. Why bring up "moral majority" in this debate at all? Again this is a land use issue, nothing more. Furthermore you are correct, we and the neighbors do oppose this because it is near our homes. We do have legitimate concerns regarding 140 parking spaces being built on an adjacent parcel. We do have legitimate concerns about caravans of buses bringing between 300 to a 1,000 participants to events that will happen every weekend from now on in our neighborhood. And this being America, we’re going to continue to make our concerns known!

    To observant: You state in your post #11 " As a bonus, you’d have some of us hardbodied construction workers at your house."

    During our construction project the only hard bodied construction workers in evidence were the two lesbian electricians that did the pre-wire for the burglar alarm. Perhaps we’re due for a refund? LOL!

  16. IBAM   February 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Didn’t know we had so many Buddhist around the area. Hey, our constitution states it, freedom of religion.

  17. Enough is enough   February 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Dai Dang = Lousy Neighbors. No expansion please!

  18. JP   February 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    It does appear that the budhist church is being excessive in their request. I know I wouldn’t be to happy if this was being proposed near me.

  19. Robert   February 25, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I am a resident right across the street, and i must say this is a land use issue. This has nothing to do with the professed faith of the applicants. Absolutely nothing, if they were atheists or Muslims it would make no difference. The surrounding roads can’t take 300 to 1000 visitors coming through here. The zoning here and the immediate surrounding area does not allow, for very good reasons, for such land use.

  20. Yvonne sez...   February 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

    300 would be too many people. 1000, thats just plain ridiculous (unless it’s zoned commercial or something)

  21. kma   February 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    PPL r forgetting this IS a RESIDENTIAL property! Rules r for all…and BonsallGayGuy- the rules have changed in a major way on septic systems…have u thought about turning one of ur existing bedrooms into an office or other non-bedroom use. Fed law allows every property to build a "granny flat," every property. Environmental Health Dept in SD has some of the most uneducated employees around, especially when it comes to their own field!

  22. MalloryMel   February 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I am surprised at the positive comments, Bravo people! I expected
    disturbing negativity as usual from the ignorance norm of christian community, in this geographical location. This issue is not a land use
    problem, having everything to do with religion. If this were another christian domination church in a rural area, we would not have herd a thing, until the grand opening. At least the citizens of Riverside
    county aren’t hiding behind lies, regarding the hatred they rant toward the Muslim center’s building, at county planning meetings.
    Hundreds are waiting in line to vent their rage, anger, and fear.
    Telling it like it is,
    Hillbillies are proud of their loathing, not blaming land use.
    I just wish the Dai Dang Monastery was my neighbor!

  23. Diane, another neighbor   February 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    to MalloryMel: What a particularly charming response. Thank you for dispelling my errors. Up until this point I was under the misconception that I was a Reformed Jew but I’m glad you’ve set me straight! Clearly you know much more about this than I do. We neighbors should really learn our place and shut up. Clearly you’re ever so more enlightened than we possibly could be! I don’t even know why the county officials keep sending us all this paperwork as the poor little hayseed that I am could never possibly understand it all! wink,wink!!

  24. local resident   February 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Why is it that when people address land use issues in their community someone like MalloryMel comes along and screams bigotry? Is the idea that if you yell bigot loud enough and often enough people will just be cowered into silence? I hope not.

  25. DTOM   February 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Good one Diane…touche’ Never ceases to amaze me how some clowns deem themselves the "open minded types…the "smart ones"…all the while displaying the very same traits they accuse the rest of us ignorant types of having.

  26. and yet another neighbor   February 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Thats right Di, only fundamentalist Christians live in Bonsall because after all NOBODY could possibly have anything negative to say about the center unless they were a fundamentalist Christian motivated by hate. Say hi to Gary for us!!!!!

  27. and yet another neighbor   February 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

    PS-and if anybody in county government is listening WE DON’T WANT A CONVENTION CENTER IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! And to the Dai Dang folks-We really resent what you’re trying to do to our quiet rural neighborhood and respectfully ask that you submit plans in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. Thank You.

  28. newguyintown   February 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Wow, I just moved here and it looks like I’m in the center of a controversial area. Based on the stats in this newspaper article it looks like the "cons" are outmumbered 2:1 by the "pros" in terms of the number of letters sent to the county about this project. Does anyone know if the "pros" are from people who live in the area, or from people who want the monastery bescause they want a peaceful place to come on the weekends. Maybe they really live elsewhere and just want to use our little town, or should I say, ruin our quiet little town. With up to 1,000 peole coming to Bonsall whether it’s 3, 4, or 52 weeks a year, peaceful Bionsall will no longer be peaceful. Then, I guess, the moanstery will need to re-locate to another rural place that is peaceful.

  29. BonsallGayGuy   February 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    According to the applicant’s own paperwork, they are now stating that there will be 50 full time resident monks. The size and scope of this proposal just seems to get larger with each passing day!

  30. BonsallMom   March 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    From someone who personally looked at the 151 letters received by the county:
    "I have looked at all of the 151 letters received by the county.
    Around 5-6 of the "pro" letters came from the Bonsall/Fallbrook. 41 came from
    LA, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties and 4 came from out of
    state (Colo. WA, Oh. and Ct). Also, 90%+ were identical form letters with
    a "blank" filled in for the address and signatures. The letter said they frequently come on weekends to dai dang, including the ones from out of
    state! Most of the 45 "con" letters came from Bonsall/Fallbrook residents,
    and most commented on specific aspects of the MND."

  31. Bonsall Dad   March 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    All that say they want a huge convention center on their backyard have at it. My family is Buddhist and i still do not want this traffic inducing commotion that will surely occur every week. We moved here to get away from traffic and not live in the OC. But who am i but a long time resident who welcomes the center as it stands now? No one in the area has any issue with center as it stands, but the 33k sq feet is a justifiable concern.

  32. Brian   March 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Mr. Expert,

    Are you going to have a follow up post or article about this anytime soon? 🙂


  33. Winter   March 2, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Many people are having trouble finding a meditation retreat center near them. After seeing Dai Dang still waiting after eight years I started to see why. I hope they will overcome this obstacle.


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