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Update: Planned Buddhist Temple in San Jose, California, Wins Approval


The San Jose City Council last week approved construction of the Cambodian community’s planned Buddhist temple. Many of those present at the council meeting, which included about a dozen Buddhist monks, burst into applause. Members of the Buddhist community had been working for years to win approval for the temple, as many local residents had objected to the project.

“It’s just pure joy for the whole community of Cambodians,” said Lyna Lam of A Khmer Buddhist Foundation. (ABC 7 News)

Local residents at the meeting who were opposed to the temple project voiced concerns about traffic and the character of the neighborhood, expressing worries that the large Buddhist temple could bring unwanted noise to the area.

“Our neighborhood is actually very diverse and very accepting, there is no racism, there’s no hate toward a temple or church or anything like that. We actually welcome it,” said Damien Maker, who lives across the street from the site of the proposed temple. “We are a very quiet neighborhood and we just want to maintain that, that’s all we’re looking to do.” (San Jose Spotlight)

Another neighbor compared the temple to a commercial facility, saying: “It’s just not compatible with the area. I know, Mr. Mayor, you ran on a platform of common sense, and it’s just not common sense to have a large, commercial facility in a neighborhood like this.” (ABC 7 News)

According to plans for the temple, regular meetings for meditation and chanting should draw 20–50 visitors. Nevertheless, the temple is allowed to have up to 300 visitors onsite for special events. Eight monks will live on the property.

Council member Domingo Candelas, who represents the district where the temple is being built, noted that the city had placed around 40 conditions on the project to ensure that it remained respectful to the neighborhood. These included traffic control and security measures for larger events, as well as narrowed regular hours of operation, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“It is time we do the right thing after four years of work, input, project changes, community discussions, and give space for the community to worship and heal from the horrific trauma they’ve endured,” Candelas said. (San Jose Spotlight)

The temple will be located in the Evergreen neighborhood in the southeast corner of the city. Once completed, it will be the largest Buddhist temple in the Bay Area, which includes San Francisco and Oakland to the north. It will also provide a community center open to all and a home for the area’s growing Cambodian community.

“It’s not just a religion for us, but it’s a way of life,” said Lam, who helped finance the new temple. (ABC 7 News)

The 1,300-square-meter structure has been planned for four years.

“As you see here, we call this a temple but it’s only a single house because we have no other place,” said monk Saduol Son. He added that the congregation needed more space and that the temple was necessary for the Buddhist monks to conduct their way of life: “Not only a place for holy worship, but capital of education, for our people, custom culture and language.” (KRON 4)

Lam agreed that the Cambodian Buddhist community had outgrown the spaces where they currently gathered. Several of these are converted houses, which cannot provide ample worship space for large gatherings.

“The function of the temple is to preserve, to teach and to practice our religion,” Lam added. (ABC 7 News)

Lam and others associated with the temple assured local residents that they would continue to work closely with everyone in the neighborhood to ensure a harmonious relationship. Further, she and others emphasized that the temple would not only be for existing members of the Cambodian Buddhist community.

“Everyone is welcome. It is like that now and it will be like that then,” Lam said. (ABC 7 News)

See more

San Jose city council greenlights new Buddhist temple after years of neighborhood pushback (ABC 7 News)
San Jose says yes to controversial Buddhist temple (San Jose Spotlight)
San Jose city council approves plans for Buddhist temple (KRON 4)

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