"We've produced a video about a mega-church invasion," said Bonnie Mann from the dais at Tuesday morning's city council meeting. Ms. Mann is a member of Concerned Citizens of Point Loma. The Point Loma resident then played the 90-second clip for the council.
Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all, played the tune to opening scenes shot at Liberty Station in Point Loma. The next frame showed the large sign for the Rock Church and Academy located at the center of the mixed-use community in Loma Portal.
"In July 2007, everything changed," said the narrator on the video. "The Rock Church came to our community, not as a friendly neighborhood church but a mega-church of over 15,000 people. Cars and people everywhere."
The video played scenes of churchgoers dressed in their Sunday suits flooding out of the church, filling the sidewalks on Rosecrans Street, and stuck in traffic throughout Liberty Station's parking lots.
The narrator preached concerns about traffic, noise from car alarms, and litter brought by the 12,000-strong throng of parishioners "5 times a Sunday, 52 times a year."
Since relocating to Point Loma from Serra Mesa, after obtaining a conditional-use permit for a K-12 private school and church in 2004, the Rock Church has grown in size and in mass to what is now 212,000 square feet. Many Point Loma residents believe church officials misrepresented the actual size of the facility and it's congregation. They also believe that the city failed to address their grievances.
When the video concluded, Liberty Station resident and former candidate for city council Greg Finley addressed the council. While Finley didn't mention the Rock Church by name, he proselytized about "an organization that obtained a conditional-use permit through subterfuge and misstatement."
Finley urged councilmembers to watch an August 2004 Planning Commission hearing, at which commissioners attempted to mitigate traffic around the Rock Church by limiting the number of cars to 4020 trips per day during the week. The language never mentioned the size of the congregation, nor did it address impacts during the weekend.
"View this video and invalidate...the existing conditional-use permit and reconvene a new series of hearings with owners and residents of Liberty Station," said Finley. "Reconstruct a document that is based on reality."