On May 28, the San Diego Christian Worship Center in Kearny Mesa filed a lawsuit against the city over zoning changes that will force the church to move from its location east of Interstate 15 on Balboa Avenue.
9561 Ridgehaven Court, Kearny Mesa
The church, located at 9561-9581 Ridgehaven Court, opened its doors in 1995.
Despite having several restrictions such as limiting the number of parishioners, hours of operation, and prohibiting daytime daycare and/or preschool, the church, according to the complaint, poured over $700,000 worth of improvements into the site.
In 2010, the city granted the church a five-year conditional use permit. In 2014, church officials were informed that city planners changed the zoning designation to a "prime industrial zone." The zone does not allow for churches, instructional studios, or entertainment venues.
The city told church officials that nothing could be done and it would have to relocate.
Reads the complaint: "The city made representations that it will deny any application to renew the [conditional use permit]. The city's representations that it would not allow the church to continue using the property were made prior to it granting the limited term of the [conditional use permit], and continued beyond the granting of the [conditional use permit]. Every communication the church has had with the city firmly support a belief that the city fully intends on forcing the church to relocate on approximately September 23, 2015."
The church has essentially been placed in limbo because it lacks the resources to find a new building.
Putting the church in that position, say attorneys for San Diego Worship Center, the city is violating constitutional rights by "imposing any system of prior restraint effecting any area of expression that is within the boundaries of the first amendment, which includes, inter alia, religious speech and free exercise of religion….
"The church estimates that it will likely cost more than $50,000 and could exceed $100,000 to prepare the application for renewal of the [conditional use permit], which requires a complete environmental impact report. The church cannot afford the application for renewal, especially where it is required every five years.
“The term is unreasonably short, which substantially burdens the church and its exercise of its religion. Without court intervention the church will likely be forced to close its doors indefinitely. The complete exclusion of churches has no substantial relationship to the public's health, safety, welfare, or morals. Therefore, the city's prior restraint is constitutionally impermissible."