SARANAP -- The Sufism Reoriented Sanctuary could be under construction by Valentine's Day, with the building permit for the 66,000-square-foot cluster of white dome-shaped buildings issued Friday.
Some homeowners who believed that Sufism Reoriented had to provide off-site parking spaces to meet Contra Costa County's conditions of approval said they were surprised to find that the building permit was granted before those spaces were secured.
"I didn't know the county could handle the situation in such a cavalier way," said Wendy Lack, a Sufism Reoriented project watchdog.
But last week, county officials said the building permit isn't dependent on securing those extra parking spaces.
"Technically, the overflow parking is a condition of occupancy," said Aruna Bhat, deputy director of community development.
Parking, safety and landscaping were contentious issues throughout the approval process for the Sufism center, with homeowners claiming there wasn't enough required parking, relative to the size of the project.
The nearby Meher Schools, affiliated with Sufism Reoriented, leases Lafayette school district property. Meher Schools had planned to let the Sufis use a school parking lot to help meet their overflow parking requirement.
Though Lafayette schools Superintendent Fred Brill told county planners district property could not be subleased to a third party, county officials accepted the Meher Schools off-site parking as a solution to the Sufis' parking requirement.
Bhat explained that the overflow parking condition will be reviewed by county planners. If that isn't sufficient, Sufism Reoriented will have to provide an alternate site within two miles of the new sanctuary.
The landscape plan is still up for discussion, according to Patricia Perry of the Saranap Homeowners Association. County planners used the California State Model Water Efficiency Ordinance, instead of the county ordinance, for review of the project landscaping and water plan without getting prior approval from the county board of supervisors.
Perry maintains that a more stringent provision of a county's water conservation code was overridden by the state ordinance, which allowed the Sufism Reoriented project to be held to lower standards.
Bhat said certain elements of the county ordinance are more stringent. However, the county is in the process or revising the ordinance in accordance with the state.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-202-9292.