Sufi sanctuary construction could start soon

The Sufism Reoriented Sanctuary could be under construction by this week or next, with the building permit for the 66,000-square-foot cluster of white dome-shaped buildings issued by the county Feb. 8.

While some nearby homeowners believed that Sufism Reoriented had to provide off-site parking spaces to meet Contra Costa County's conditions of approval, the building permit was granted before those spaces were secured.

County officials said last week that the building permit wasn't dependent on securing those extra parking spaces.

Parking, safety and landscaping elements of the plan have been contentious issues throughout the approval process for the Sufism center, with nearby homeowners claiming there wasn't enough required parking, relative to the size of the project.

Meher Schools had planned to let the affiliated Sufi sanctuary use a school parking lot to help meet their overflow parking requirement, but Lafayette school officials told county planners district property could not be subleased to a third party.

County Deputy Director of Community Development Aruna Bhat said 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.

Library to host centennial event

The Walnut Creek Library downtown will host a Feb. 20 event celebrating the Contra Costa Library's centennial, as part of the library's ongoing "Bringing People and Ideas Together" events throughout the year.

This event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Oak View Room of the new library, 1644 N. Broadway in Walnut Creek. Enjoy a glass of sparkling apple cider and the music of the Celtic and bluegrass group Extended Roots, an acoustic band comprising 13 women who play traditional music from the roots of America.

The event is free, but registration is required -- call 925-977-3340.

Contra Costa County's first library opened in 1913 in Walnut Creek. For a complete list of "Bringing People and Ideas Together" events, visit http://guides.ccclib.org/100thbirthday.

Next 'Spotlight' event highlights corp yard

Walnut Creek's next "Second Saturday Spotlight" program is March 9, "Keeping Things Running Smoothly," a behind-the-scenes look at the city's Public Services Maintenance Corp Yard.

It's the third in a planned series of "Spotlight" events that will also allow the public to go to the nerve center of the Lesher Center for the Arts and see what goes on at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

The "Spotlight" series in Mayor Cindy Silva's primary outreach program to Walnut Creek's residents, said Gayle Vassar, Walnut Creek's communications and outreach manager.

"This is the mayor's way to connect with the community for the year," Vassar said.

Future scheduled "Spotlight" programs and April 13, "Walnut Creek's Legacy of Open Space," led by the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation

The city encourages people to register for each "Spotlight" ahead of time, so the city can best accommodate those who want to come. The online registration system is on the Spotlight web page. That said, drop-ins are welcome, too.

All "Spotlights" will take place the second Saturday of the month from 9 to 10:30 a.m., and will be very informal tours of a community/city gems. To register or for more information, go online to www.ci.walnut-creek.ca.us/spotlight. or call Vassar at 925-943-5895 or email her at vassar@walnut-creek.org

Grand jury applicants sought

The Contra Costa grand jury is seeking applicants for the 2013-14 fiscal year to oversee city and county governments, and school and special districts.

Grand jury members must be 18 years or older, US citizens and have resided in Contra Costa County for at least one year before selection. They can't hold any elected positions within the county and must be able to be released from their jobs to perform jury duties, among other requirements.

Sixty applicants will be selected to be interviewed by the grand jury Selection Committee. A final panel of 19 will be chosen by random drawing on June 14.

Interested applicants should contact the Office of the Civil grand jury at 925-957-5638 or visit www.cc-courts.org/grand jury.

Rajan gives campaign money to school foundations

Former Walnut Creek City Councilman current director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (or GO-Biz) Kish Rajan delivered a $3,500 check to the Walnut Creek Education Foundation. That check, plus an earlier $3,500 donation check to the PEAK Education Foundation, will help benefit education in Walnut Creek schools.

"I am very proud to be making these sizable donations to support Walnut Creek's schools," said Rajan. "As a Walnut Creek native, resident and parent, I cannot think of a more important investment than in our kids."

In September when Rajan was appointed by Gov. Brown to lead the GO-Biz office, and decided to end his campaign for re-election to the Walnut Creek City Council, he made a pledge to donate 100 percent of the net proceeds of the campaign to Walnut Creek's two main education foundations.

Looking for love at the Lindsay museum

Love is in the air at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum from Valentine's Day through President's Day, with "Wild Valentines," a special, family-friendly presentation that explores how wild animals find mates, raise families and "love."

"Wild Valentines" will be presented today (Feb. 14) and Friday, Feb. 15 from noon to 5 p.m.; Feb.16 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

These presentations are free with the cost of standard Lindsay admission: $7 for adults and $5 for children (free for museum members). The museum is at 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek, near Larkey Park. For more information, call 925-935 1978.

Paint collection sites established

Several paint collection sites have been set up as part of the California Paint Stewardship Program, which requires paint manufacturers to develop a system to retrieve leftover paint from household and commercial consumers.

The program will be funded by a "recovery fee" attached to the purchase price of paint sold in California. That money will go to PaintCare, a nonprofit organization created to administer the state paint disposal and recycling programs. These fees go up to $1.60 per one- to -five-gallon container of paint.

Some collection sites include Kelly Moore, 2700 N Main St. in Walnut Creek; Glidden Professional, 2260 Commerce Ave. in Concord; Kelly Moore, 5600 Imhoff Drive in Concord; Sherwin-Williams, 1241 Diamond Way in Concord; Dunn-Edwards, 555 Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill; and Kelly Moore, 1725 Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill.

For more information about the California Paint Stewardship Program visit www.paintcare.org

East Bay Women's Conference is March 4

The 2013 East Bay Women's Conference, with keynote speaker Marlo Thomas and featured speaker Lisa Kristine, takes place March 4, at the San Ramon Marriott.

Both women have had significant impact on the lives of women around the world and continue to act and speak out for positive change.

ABC 7 news anchor Dan Ashley will emcee the conference that blends keynote and featured speaker presentations; breakout sessions focused on contemporary issues; exhibitor booths; a fully stocked bookstore and author signings.

The conference is presented by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Chevron Corporation. The $195 ticket price includes continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon reception.

Tickets for the conference, are available http://www.walnut-creek.com and click on the Women's Conference photo on the face page.

Changes planned for Encina Grande center

A relocation and expansion of the existing Walgreens store, facade improvements throughout the whole shopping center are all proposed for the Encina Grande shopping center, near the intersection of Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove Roads.

The Planning Commission must approve the project, likely sometime in early 2013

-- Compiled by Sam Richards