The Atwater Village Neighborhood Council on Thursday night requested a new traffic study be conducted for a so-called “mega church” proposed behind the Costco shopping center, deeming the previous study to be flawed because it failed to include Sundays, the most frequent day for Christian religious services.
The previous study also took into account travelers using driveways along Verdant Street, which won’t be allowed when and if the New Vision Church begins services begin at the proposed 85,000-square-foot building, according to officials who reviewed the study.
Board member Edward Morrissey, who drafted a letter requesting that the city undertake a new traffic study, also noted that the previous report had assumed that an estimated 602 church goers would drive to and from the church throughout the day. The letter urged the city to factor in the large number of attendees coming all at once to attend services.
“They spread traffic throughout the day as if people were going to a store, not an event with a set start and end time,” remarked attendee Monica Waggoner, who said she had a masters in urban planning with a focus on transportation from UCLA.
The church leaders disputed the attendance numbers, which the city based on the square footage of the property. Church elder Johg Choi said that between 75 to 150 attendees showed up at their services at present
At last month’s meeting, representatives of the church gave varying estimates for the number of attendees, ranging from 200 to 700. Last night the organization’s leaders claim the congregants only show up in the their largest numbers once or twice a year. The supermarket-sized church, athletic facility and sprawling parking lot would be built on a 20-acre parcel now occupied by a tent-like building and other structures that have in the past been used by a church called New Hope Chapel.
Board member Alex Ventura, a supporter of the church’s current plans, proposed an amendment to the letter, which passed, requesting the city allow the church to add their own numbers to the study.
The letter’s opponents critiqued the letter’s conclusions because Edward Morrissey was the sole reader of the study. The document did not pass through the council’s Environmental Land Use Committee.
Opponents of the mega church don’t take issue with a religious organization building on the 20 acre lot, but are concerned about the project’s size and potential impact on traffic.
“We’re inviting Dodger’s Stadium to our neighborhood,” said Jordan Burwick.
Choi pointed out the organization already allows customers at the adjoining big box stores to take spaces in their parking lot. He says the number of seats in the proposed 85,000 square foot building aren’t an issue, and doesn’t see a reason why they shouldn’t build a large church on a 20 acre property.
The leaders of the spiritual organization said the property will contain more than just a “sanctuary.” Nathan Hur, a member of the church, said the grounds will include a gym and wedding chapel.
“There’s a huge parking lot because the land cannot be used for anything else,” he said, a reference to contamination on the lot.