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Buddhist Center Keeps Its Peace; Zoning Decision Allows It to Stay

December 10, 1987|CLAUDIA PUIG | Times Staff Writer

A meditation center for Vietnamese Buddhists will be allowed to remain in a residential Sepulveda neighborhood, despite the opposition of a neighborhood couple.

A Los Angeles zoning administrator's decision to allow the 6-year-old Buddhist Meditation Center to remain at 9250 Columbus Ave. became final Wednesday.

Jon Perica, assistant zoning administrator, said he approved the center's request to remain at its location because center officials "had been acting in good faith." He determined that the center was not having an adverse effect on the neighborhood.

"I think overall there clearly is a justification for that center," Perica said. "The public benefits outweigh any imagined adverse impacts."

Restrictions Imposed

But Perica imposed several restrictions, which he ordered published in the center's newsletter.

He prohibited children from playing in the front yard of the center and ordered that no more than five children under 10 be allowed to play in the backyard while their parents meditate. He prohibited eating of food by visitors on the premises and transportation of visitors to the center by bus.

David and Lois Kaplan, a couple who live across the street from the center, recently mounted a campaign to oust it from the block. The Kaplans contacted the city's Planning Department and alleged that the center had violated its conditional-use permit.

But at a meeting last month, a dozen supporters of the center--which has a giant statue of Buddha in its front yard--attested to its psychological and spiritual benefits for the Southeast-Asian refugee population.

Most of those on hand at the hearing characterized the center's residents--four Zen Buddhist monks and one Zen Buddhist nun--as courteous and quiet. They said the weekly meditation services, which typically attract about 20 meditators, have not caused problems.

The Kaplans were the sole opponents at the hearing. They complained that having the temple in their neighborhood has increased noise and traffic.

Lois Kaplan argued that the center is not strictly a temple for spiritual contemplation. She said it also is a social gathering place. She objected at the hearing to people parking on the street in front of the temple, to people bringing food and offerings and to children playing on the grounds.

However, Kaplan said she does not intend to continue her efforts to oust the center.

"I don't think it'll do any good to appeal the decision," she said. "I think it would be kind of futile at this point. I think Mr. Perica did what he thought was reasonable."

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