The History of SonLight


The Orange County Register
Santa Ana, California

May 29, 1980

Churches In Commercial Zones Must Get Permits, Council Says

ORANGE - The age old struggle between God and Mammon has surfaced in the downtown business district in an apparent clash between church and commercial land uses.

Although 10 of the city's 37 existing churches are in commercially zoned areas, the city council passed a 120-day urgency ordinance March 25 requiring conditional use permits for church and church-related activities in commercial zones.

Prior to the urgency ordinance, commercial zones were the only place in the city where churches weren't subject to special government regulations.

City action on the new ordinance came shortly after the Rev. Joseph Magliato's Son Light Center Church at 172 N. Glassell St. purchased a building in the same block and served eviction notices on two of its retail business lessees.

Magliato said he believes the council action less than 10 days after escrow closed on the church's new building discriminates against the Son Light Center.

He said he opposes the idea of subjecting his church to the conditional use permit procedure because it gives the city a right to say no to something that was legal and proper when the building was purchased.

Son Light Center operates out of a leased former movie theater. There are three other churches within a four-block area of the Son Light Center, although none of the others is within the proposed "Old Towne" historical restoration area.

Magliato said the church intends to move its bookstore into part of the new building and only use the back of it for youth meetings and counseling session activities.

Councilman Jess Perez said the city is more concerned with displacement of retail businesses in the commercial zones than any objection to the Son Light Center itself.

He admitted the proposed Son Light Center expansion sparked the issue and raised concern by the Downtown Merchants Association and Councilman Don Smith, who is one of the prime boosters of the "Old Towne" restoration project.

A staff report resulting from the initial council action pinpoints the economic nature of the issue. However, the city staff recommendation for a permanent ordinance requiring conditional use permits cites only parking, health and safety and promoting "compatible land uses" as issues.

According to the staff study, churches and church-related activities have an adverse impact on the city tax base, particularly the retail sales tax.

Noting that churches are exempt from property, sales and income taxes, the staff report pointed out that sales tax is the largest single source of revenue to the city.

"When churches and church-related non-commercial uses locate in commercial districts, it is at the expense of tax revenue," the report states. "When a church locates in a commercial rather than residential district, there is a comparative diminuation of the tax base."

Less direct economic effects listed in the report include:

- Retail uses involve more rapid circulation of money, resulting in greater levels of economic activity.

- Rapid money circulation from retail trade creates more jobs and produces more income than slower economic transactions of church uses

- Parking problems created by church use tend to drive away retail customers.


Pastors | Ministries | Kids Page | Prayer | Steps to Peace with God | Search
Free Movies | History | Schedule of Services | Map | What We Believe | Contact Us | Home